County supervisors Tuesday will take up the sometimes emotional and controversial issue of dust blowing off Oceano Dunes when they hear an appeal of plans to install five wind monitoring towers there.
Officials with State Parks say the 33-foot-tall stations are needed as they begin implementing dust control pilot programs at the Dunes.
Critics of the plan say the data the towers will collect will be used to undermine a recent scientific study that linked off-highway vehicle riding in the Dunes to high particulate levels downwind on the Nipomo Mesa.
Approval of the project on Dec. 3 by a county planning department hearing officer was appealed by Nipomo Mesa resident Katrina Dolinsky and Terry Sweetland of Oceano.
On the surface, the issue is a simple land use decision. But distrust of State Park officials and their commitment to a multiagency effort to find a way to reduce dust blowing off Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area is also a stated component.
“Rather than collaborating or collecting needed data with a constructive purpose, State Parks is attempting to take over the process with intent to sabotage genuine mitigation or the acceptance of such mitigation,” Dolinsky wrote in her appeal.
Larry Allen, county air pollution control officer, has praised State Parks’ collaboration in the effort.
However, parks officials dispute the conclusion of the dust study and installation of the wind towers is not recommended by the County Air Pollution Control District.
This spring, parks officials and hired consultants will begin experimenting with hay bales and replant-ing as ways to reduce blowing sand particles.
The towers will be installed in the areas where the pilot programs are planned, said Ronnie Glick, Oceano Dunes environmental scientist.
“It is our goal to have a better understanding of wind patterns on the dune sheet,” he said. “These towers will be used to inform us as we develop these projects.”
Each tower would be equipped with three wind-speed and direction measuring devices and other associated equipment. They would be in place for two years.
One tower has already been installed in the park riding area. Another will be installed at another location in the riding area. Two will be in the adjacent Oso Flaco dune area and the fifth will be at the Cal Fire station along Highway 1.
The project is also appealable to the California Coastal Commission.
Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.