Time to act
The Off Highway Vehicle Division is trying to make an end run past the public so they can acquire the La Grande Tract adjoining the Oceano Dunes State Recreation Vehicle Area from the county behind closed doors. The Off Highway Vehicle Division is financed by your gasoline tax dollar to the tune of $60 million per year.
Off-roading poses many problems for local residents, both human and animal, who must live with their effects long after visitors go home, including particulate matter. Health problems associated with increased particulate matter are significant and well documented: tachycardia, arrhythmias, plus pulmonary and systemic oxidative stress.
Dirt bikes, ATVs, and quads don’t have to comply with smog regulation and put out up to 30 times as many emissions as cars. The Off Highway Vehicle Division should be scaling down activity, not increasing it, to comply with the mandate to eliminate pollution in our parks.
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If you are as concerned as I am, please submit your letters to the county no later than Oct. 30.
Better yet, attend the local hearing about the proposed environmental impact report tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Ramona Garden Park Center in Grover Beach. Now is the time to act!
The 584 acres in question at Oceano Dunes should remain reserved for off-highway vehicle (OHV) use.
The 2008 Forest Service Recreation and the Environment Survey reports 4.8 million Californians are OHV participants, averaging 137,000 people per OHV district. Fully 27 percent of OHV users are college grads or post-grads. This is the image of users and the need for managed OHV use not conveyed by those desiring to end this activity.
The Sierra Club claims OHV use in this area is illegal, yet the California Public Resources Code identifies and validates “Pismo Dunes State Recreational Vehicular Area” by name and states the area is approved as a “state park unit.”
It takes only a moment to learn of six-month waits to camp at Oceano. The number of overnight and daily users is limited, yet Oceano is ranked among one of the most visited parks in the system. Noise, safety and travel regulations are strictly enforced. Environmental issues are monitored and attended to.
The presence of park personnel protects sensitive areas from vehicles and from the admitted damage caused by local foot traffic and pets to an extent perhaps greater than any other dune nesting area in the state.
Of 1,264 miles of coastline, Oceano represents three miles reserved for 4.8 million California OHV recreational users. Given the environmental importance of managed OHV recreation, I believe expanding the area is logical.