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Environment and Energy

Extra dust control measures temporarily on pause at Oceano Dunes

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Randol White - KCBX News
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Extra dust control measures there are on hold at the Oceano Dunes after the San Luis Obispo Superior Court temporarily prohibited them Thursday.

A temporary restraining order is keeping more than 130 acres of dust control measures from being installed at the State Park.

The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Oceano Dunes asked for the pause. The group is in an ongoing battle to protect off-highway vehicle (OHV) use and camping on the dunes. They’re calling this ruling a win.

“We believe that the dust mitigations out at the Oceano Dunes are an excess of what needs to be done,” said Friends of Oceano Dunes President Jim Suty.

The group argued the California Coastal Commission and State Parks and Recreation Department did not get the required approval from the county to move forward with this project.

The temporary pause holds until March 30, when a hearing will determine whether the dust control efforts will be allowed to move forward. Suty said they’re hoping for a full stop.

“That permanent decision might be that the judge tells them to go and implement this and we hope that’s not the case,” Suty said.

New research from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego may suggest off-highway vehicle use on the dunes isn’t entirely to blame for high levels of particulates in the air, although local Air Pollution Control District officials are skeptical about the findings.

The Coastal Commission and State Parks agree — OHV use causes negative environmental impacts to dune habitat and air quality.

Suty acknowledged that OHVs play a role in air quality but says phasing them out entirely isn’t fair.

“We contribute to the dust. We contribute to the atmosphere in our recreation and our sport," Suty said. "So we should be accountable for our contribution. But we should not be accountable for all of the contribution.”

In a statement to KCBX News, State Parks said it’s reviewing the court’s ruling and the department remains committed to dust mitigation efforts at the Oceano Dunes.

The Friends of Oceano Dunes is actively moving forward with 16 lawsuits aimed at protecting vehicle recreation and camping at the dunes.

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