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County supervisors want to work with state on Oceano Dunes

County supervisors Tuesday promised a cooperative approach to reducing particulate pollution on the Nipomo Mesa.

The board unanimously voted to send a letter to the state Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division urging that agency to work with county officials to find ways to reduce the amount of particulates blowing to the Mesa from the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

Supervisor Adam Hill said he met recently with officials from the county Air Pollution Control District, State Parks and the County Counsel’s Office to discuss how the county and state can work together to deal with the problem. Supervisor Bruce Gibson said the county will move decisively to protect the health of Mesa residents.

Dr. Penny Borenstein, county health officer, told supervisors she found the study linking high particulate levels on the Mesa with the OHV park to be credible. She is working with air board staff to come up with a system by which Mesa residents can be notified of high dust conditions on windy days.

More details of how the county will respond to the particulate study are expected when the air board meets May 19, Gibson said.

Meanwhile, public opinion remains divided over the study. Released earlier this year, the air study concluded that riding in the Oceano Dunes worsens air pollution on the Mesa by destabilizing the sand dunes and stripping them of vegetation, making it easier for sand particles to become airborne.

Several people at Tuesday’s hearing complained about the high dust levels on the Mesa and asked that a more strongly worded letter be sent. Some Mesa residents have asked that the county declare a moratorium on riding in the Dunes as a way to protect public health.

Others question the validity of the particulate study. State Parks has identified what it considers seven flaws in the study. Most of these flaws concern the study’s methodology.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

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