Oceano air quality hearing disappointing

I attended SLO Air Pollution Control District (APCD) Oceano Dunes SVRA hearing in Arroyo Grande yesterday and came away very disappointed in the way California State Parks just rolled over and gave the local APCD everything they wanted.

As I said at the Cal4Wheel board meeting, I believe State Parks had already given up on Oceano Dunes SVRA quite a while ago. The lack of maintenance, staffing issues and not filling the Park Superintendent position all pointed to that conclusion.

The park is listed at 1,500 acres but is really around 1,100 acres with all mitigation work for the dust and the Snowy Plover. The new plan will remove another 400 acres from the riding area to reduce the dust emissions from the SVRA in the next three years.

Part of that plan is the addition of a 50-acre foredune; this foredune will have a devastating impact to continued camping and recreation in the SVRA. Lisa Mangat, Director of State Parks, estimated that this new development would require an estimated 50% reduction of the SVRA’s campsites.

The Oceano Dunes SVRA provides a $244-million-dollar economic benefit to South SLO County, and to an area that is economically challenged compared to surrounding areas. $221 million of those dollars come from people who stay the night in the Oceano Dunes SVRA. That means that an 50% reduction in camping at the SVRA will cause an immediate $110 million-dollar negative impact to the local economies and as the popularity of the SVRA diminishes the negative economic impacts to the local economies will continue to increase.

The Friends of Oceano Dunes currently have seven lawsuits going and they are considering more after yesterday's decision. This isn’t the outcome we wanted but we will continue to fight for access to our public lands.

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Jeff Blewett

Jeff Blewett

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