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Sierra Club loses ruling over riding on Dunes land in San Luis Obispo County

The local chapter of the Sierra Club says it plans to appeal a recent Superior Court ruling that maintains the status quo for off-highway vehicle riding at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

The Santa Lucia chapter of the club has sued California State Parks in an effort to force it to comply with a county coastal planning policy that bans riding in a 584-acre chunk of county-owned land in the park known as the La Grande tract.

The management plan for the Oceano Dunes allows riding in the La Grande tract and the county has turned management of the land over to State Parks under an operating agreement. In a recent ruling, Judge Charles Crandall concluded that State Parks is not required to revise its park management plan to bring it into compliance with county planning rules.

This means that riding will be allowed in the tract for the foreseeable future, said Andrew Christie, Sierra Club chapter director.

“We’ve been waiting 25 years and now the judge has said we will have to wait another undetermined amount of time,” he said.

In his ruling, Crandall acknowledged that the inconsistency between the park’s management plan and the county’s coastal land management plan eventually needs to be addressed.

“This conclusion does not in any way minimize the importance of the substantive issues presented in the litigation,” he wrote.

State Parks officials say that uncertainties about the La Grande tract put the future of the park in limbo. They have proposed settling the matter permanently by buying the land for $4.8 million.

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