Are These Dunes in DANGER?

For decades, Oceano Dunes in SLO County California has been a cherished OHV area for many in the off-road community. Countless stories can be told about the memories shared on those hallowed grounds, including the release of Honda’s first ATC model.  Residents who live near the Oceano Dunes OHV area in San Luis Obispo, CA have been in at arms for years over the “serious health concerns” caused by the dust from the recreation enthusiasts. The SLO County Air Pollution District has recently proposed to initiate a short”dust-migration plan” that calls for taking away land used by off-highway vehicles over the next five years.

Parts of the plan call for:

  • Taking away 20 acres of OHV land per year to plant native vegetation
  • Setting aside 40 acres for seasonal dust control measures
  • Planting trees on the Nipomo Mesa

This band-aid plan has already caused commotion among loyal riders of the SLO county dunes. Until the commission’s approval of the plan, temporary dust mitigation measures at the dunes had been enacted under an emergency permit but were not effective, according to APCD officials. The passage of the plan left some residents of the nearby Nipomo Mesa cautiously optimistic; but according to an article by The Sierra Club, the Coastal Commission has plans “to cure (this time, they promise!) the decades of the ODSVRA’s non-compliance with and violations of state and federal environmental laws not involving dust control.”

Nick Lalanne, a regular rider at Oceano Dunes stated, “There’s no doubt about it, this will hurt the industry. It will hurt the off-road economy because as it gets smaller, less people can enjoy it, less people want to to have fun with it.”  He fears that if State Parks keeps chipping away at the 1,500 acres they are currently allowed to ride on, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area may one day be no more.

“I think it’s just grounds to slowly close off more and more area. The slower you do it, the less you are going to upset the people that do enjoy and eventually they’ll be no park to enjoy,” however, California State Parks claims that they have no intentions of the closing the OHV area altogether for recreational use.

The California Coastal Commission is still searching for a more permanent plan. The passage of the temporary plan left some residents of the nearby Nipomo Mesa cautiously optimistic. Those residents have long raised concerns about impacts of dust from the dunes on their health.

For riders like us, we face problems of limitation more frequently each year. Many place across the country have faced noise, dust, and nature conservancy complaints for years and continually fight hard to keep the sport alive. The Dirt Wheels Crew frequents these dunes for testing and we have to say we would be quite disappointed if we were to lose them. The off road world is always changing but we have to do our part to be respectful “anti” off-roaders while still fighting to keep our lifestyle from being extinguished.

To see the full five year plan Click Here



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