Luke Deal | Mustang News

Several environmental groups filed a motion to back the California Coastal Commission’s decision to prohibit off-roading at Oceano Dunes, the Center for Biological Diversity nonprofit announced Wednesday.

Among the groups included are the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Oceano Beach Community Association, Sierra Club, San Luis Obispo Coastkeeper and Surfrider Foundation.

Previously, the California Coastal Commission made amendments to California State Parks’ coastal development permit for the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area and Pismo State Beach. Within these amendments was the decision to end off-road vehicle use by 2024. 

The amendment also includes the gradual prevention of off-roading at the dunes and restricting street legal vehicles to a one-mile boundary of the beach north of Pier Avenue.

“These sensitive dunes have been damaged by off-road vehicles for far too long, and now this important coastal habitat should get a chance to recover,” Center for Biological Diversity conservation advocate Jeff Miller said in a press release.

This takes place after lawsuits on behalf of off-road users argue this amendment would violate their rights as well as guidelines in the California Coastal Act and California Environmental Quality Act.

Vehicles have essentially turned the land into its own playground, threatening endangered species and the overall unique economy of the dunes, according to the Center for Biological Diversity press release. The land has become a defeated terrain and many local residents are concerned about the lack of preservation or restoration.

Questions of justice and ethics are also brought into light when considering this land is sacred to the Indigenous Northern Chumash tribe. 

“Chumash peoples have been stewards of the Oceano Dunes for thousands of years,” Northern Chumash Tribal Council Chairwoman Violet Sage Walker said in the press release. “Together with my father, the late Chief Fred Collins, we fought for many years to protect this sacred place from the destruction caused by vehicles. The Coastal Commission’s decision last year to phase them out must stand, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that it does and that these lands are once again protected.”

Jeff Miller | Courtesy

The California Coastal Commission’s amendment intends to protect the land and endangered species, reduce the effects of climate change and preserve the landmark of Oceano Dunes.

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