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New 48-acre closure at the Oceano Dunes could cut camping in half

Nathalie Vera/
The Coastal Commission approved an emergency permit to fence off 48-acres of campground at the Oceano Dunes.

OCEANO, Calif. - Holidays at the Oceano Dunes will look a little different this year.

California State Parks is fencing off 48 acres of the foredunes area to meet air pollution requirements.

“They just fenced it off right before Christmas and New Year's, which in my opinion is a bunch of crap," said Danny Hensley, a long time off-roader and member of the group Friends of Oceano Dunes.

48 acres of sand are now unavailable to campers, though State Parks says it won't impact sold-out reservations for Christmas and New Year's Eve weekends.

A spokesman explains the closure is between Post 4 and Post 6. Holiday campers will be able to camp south of Post 6, an area blocked off during the summer for bird season.

But Hensley is skeptical about these accommodations.

“This right here represents the biggest area of camping. So on a normal big weekend, sold out, you will see nothing but campers and off-road equipment out here," he said. “They don't give a crap about us.”

Back in November, the Air Pollution Control District Hearing Board asked State Parks to fence off that area by January 1.

“Health goes before recreation," said Lucia Casalinuovo of the Oceano Beach Community Association. “State Parks has to follow the law, like everyone else.”

The California Coastal Commission recently approved an emergency permit to move forward with the plan.

Friends of Oceano Dunes submitted a letter protesting the new limitations. Members like Hensley say the science behind these measures is inaccurate, adding that more restrictions will only hurt tourism.

“The economy of this town is going to shrivel up to nothing," he said.

Casalinuovo disagrees.

“We have thousands of visitors who come here and they don't want to drive, they just wanna walk on the beach," she said.

She says ATV riding should be phased out.

“That's not enough -- 48 acres is just like the 11 percent of the driving area," she said. “The more we shrink the riding area, the more we also should shrink the number of people allowed to drive on the area because they become very crowded, and it's very dangerous for them.”

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County
oceano dunes

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Nathalie Vera


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