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San Luis Obispo County

Oceano Dunes decision could cut number of campers in battle to reduce air pollution

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - A decision regarding air pollution control at the Oceano Dunes could restrict visitors to the popular camping and recreation area.

Monday's decision will restrict parts of the Oceano Dunes to visitors as State Parks struggles to meet air pollution requirements.

It could also reduce the number of campers as part of an effort to cut air pollution.

The San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District says California State Parks was not meeting the requirements of an agreement it made in April 2018.

At a hearing Monday the district approved a work plan aimed at getting things back on track. State Parks says this could include reducing camping by 50 percent.

The Air Pollution Control District approved changes to an order of abatement for the Oceano Dunes.

"We had a stipulated order that both parks and the air district agreed to, which was great because they were working together," said Yarrow Nelson the Air Pollution Control District chair.

Nelson says State Parks had fallen off track this year.

"State Parks were not meeting the requirements of the scientific advisory group," Nelson said.

Among other things, the scientific advisory group requested more personnel and a project manager they could communicate with.

"The original plan that was proposed by the scientific advisory group was to fence off part of the foredunes, and it's where the dust originates from."

The plan requires fencing on 48 acres of the foredunes area. State Parks says this could reduce camping by half.

"I don't know if that's gonna impact the total visitors to the park or not," Nelson said.

The controversial topic was met with pushback from both sides.

"Where's my voice, where's my breath, what's happening with the neighborhood kids, what's happening with my animals who can't breathe right either," asked Jacky johnson, a Nipomo mesa resident.

"They should go back to the drawing board, they should forget about the stipulated order of abatement because it was based on fake science," said Amy Granat of the California Off-road Vehicle Association.

The decision to ban riding in a 48-acre area of the fourdunes is contingent on approval by the coastal commission. The air pollution control district asked state parks to expedite this process.

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Nathalie Vera

Nathalie Vera is a reporter at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.