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Litigation and conservation campaigns cost money!
Make your TAX-DEDUCTIBLE check out to "Sierra Club Foundation," write
 "SLO Land Preservation Fund" in the memo section
and mail to:

Sierra Club
P.O. Box 15755
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406



Sierra Club Sues to Protect County Land at Oceano Dunes

April 14, 2008

The Sierra Club filed suit today to compel the California Department of
Parks and Recreation to abide by the land use policy that designates
approximately one-third of the present Oceano Dunes State Vehicular
Recreation Area (ODSVRA) as off-limits to vehicles.

"Twenty-five years ago, the Local Coastal Program crafted by the County and
certified by the California Coastal Commission expressed the clear intent of
preserving this sensitive area of the Oceano Dunes for nature study, hiking
and other passive recreation," said Karen Merriam, chair of the Santa Lucia
Chapter of the Sierra Club. "Today we are taking action to end the lengthy
delay in making that policy into reality."

In its Feb. 28 response to Sierra Club's notice of intent to sue, State
Parks declined to amend its General Development Plan to conform to the
buffer designation given the 584 acres of County land in the ODSVRA known as
the La Grande tract. In 1984, the Land Use Plan of the County's Local
Coastal Program declared that the entire property was to be a buffer between
the riding area and the dunes preserve.

State Parks is offering $4.8 million for the County parcel, which it
currently leases from the County via an operating agreement, at a time when
the Governor is proposing to close 48 state parks statewide or impose steep
admission fees due to lack of funds. State Parks' 25-year lease on the La
Grande tract expires June 20.

"We think very few people at this point would deny the need to scale back
the escalating impacts and intensity of use at the dunes," said Merriam. "An
exclusive focus on revenues generated by the ODSVRA takes no account of the
costs, which include a rising tally of deaths and injuries, vehicles
wreaking havoc on the habitat of state and federally protected species,
particulate matter air pollution downwind of the dunes significantly in
excess of safe levels, and riders dumping sewage and oil into the sand."

The Oceano Dunes are recognized by scientists, conservationists and
government agencies as the finest and most extensive coastal dunes complex
remaining in California, but it is also the only place on the California
coast where visitors can drive their trucks and other off-road vehicles
across beaches and dunes. The continued forfeiture of San Luis Obispo
County's coastal dunes for off-road vehicle use is causing harm to coastal
dune habitat, inconsistent with the county's Local Coastal Plan. The Sierra
Club intends to reclaim that portion of the habitat owned by the County and
insure that its state-mandated land use policy is finally put into effect.

Read the full text here (PDF, 8.5MB)

Oceano Dunes Preservation


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Explore, Enjoy and Protect - Santa Lucia Chapter hike in Machesna Wilderness
Machesna Wilderness hike
April 2002
Photo by Gary Felsman