CA Coastal Commission to revoke [ALL] OHV access to Pismo Dunes

rayra

Expedition Leader
While the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District proposed earlier this year to fence off about a third of the 1,500 acres made available to OHVs in response to complaints of excessive dust and particulate matter blowing off the park’s dunes, the CCC report proposes to eliminate all OHV access to the park via a series of measures to address a number of issues.

Those measures include not only the above-mentioned fencing of 500 acres to promote vegetation growth but also the permanent closure of 300 acres currently closed seasonally to protect local snowy plover habitat, a ban on nighttime driving to protect nocturnal wildlife, a prohibition on crossing Arroyo Grande Creek when it connects to the ocean to protect fish populations, limits on the number of vehicles allowed in the park in proportion with the number of acres accessible to vehicles, and the elimination of holiday exceptions to limits on vehicular access to the park.



I can't write here what I think about this and the people doing it.
 

shade

Well-known member
While the San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control District proposed earlier this year to fence off about a third of the 1,500 acres made available to OHVs in response to complaints of excessive dust and particulate matter blowing off the park’s dunes, the CCC report proposes to eliminate all OHV access to the park via a series of measures to address a number of issues.

Those measures include not only the above-mentioned fencing of 500 acres to promote vegetation growth but also the permanent closure of 300 acres currently closed seasonally to protect local snowy plover habitat, a ban on nighttime driving to protect nocturnal wildlife, a prohibition on crossing Arroyo Grande Creek when it connects to the ocean to protect fish populations, limits on the number of vehicles allowed in the park in proportion with the number of acres accessible to vehicles, and the elimination of holiday exceptions to limits on vehicular access to the park.



I can't write here what I think about this and the people doing it.
Thanks for the link. The comments are more interesting than the article.

I'll be surprised if the end result isn't a total ban on all motorized traffic.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
Motorized access to public lands is a privilege, not a right. Out east where there is vastly less public land, its just accepted. In my home state we had a series of tracks near and around levies on the river system and flood plain. They were a fun drive with great access for fishing and some hunting. It was corp land, and they allowed access. They became popular and folks with high powered mud slingers started running through during wet times, tearing up the access trails and the banks of the levies. They proposed a permit system to control access, and a reasonable fee to pay for maintenance. It was shot down because folks believed they had a "right" and "owned it". The damage got to the point where erosion was undercutting the flood control earthworks. So they closed it completely with rocks and "tank traps".

While I will agree that home/land owners may be driving the closure in this case, they may have a legitimate complaint. I know I would be frustrated if my favorite park or beach was inundated with aggressive drivers in big trucks with no mufflers, spewing diesel smoke with cheap beer cans flying out of their beds. I don't know about the dunes in question, but in some areas destruction of the dune stabilizing plants causes them to start drifting into the neighboring areas.

It sounds like the local open-use clubs should propose a permit system with a reasonable fee. This would restrict traffic some, and prevent ill-equipped drivers. The proceeds could be used for maintenance.
 

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DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
The West is different, "we" do own most of the land collectively. It's public land, not private. In some states, such as Nevada, around 75% of the land is publicly owned.

In this case Pismo is a California state park, supported by taxpayers, managed by the state in trust of the People of California. So an OHV using Californian has just as much right to his use as anyone else.

They've already compromised, anyway. Originally when they started driving there they had 15,000 acres of dunes to drive on and that's down to 1,500 acres and have offered to use even less as a concession to have any left. But the bargaining position goal of the opposition is zero acres, total exclusion. By what right do they have to say one user group is less legitimate than another?

The same argument is used to exclude mountain bikes in many places (such as all designated Wilderness). Oh, too much pressure, too many people. But horses do just as much or more damage and as a user group do much less trail work to repair their damage. Same with hikers, the sheer numbers puts tremendous pressure on trails in popular areas. But no one questions their use and implementing permits is very rare.
 
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luthj

Engineer In Residence
I did read some interesting cases with beachfront owners in CA. Essentially billionaires buying all access to the public beach fronting their property, and then trying to close it. Which is apparently against state law.
 

shade

Well-known member
In this case Pismo is a California state park, supported by taxpayers, managed by the state in trust of the People of California. So an OHV using Californian has just as much right to his use as anyone else.
Physical access to the public land? Yes.

Access by any means? No. Access can be regulated by the government, just as it is in other public spaces. Just because it's public land doesn't mean anyone can do whatever they want on it, even if the 9th Circuit thinks that's the way it should be. I'm sure that seemed like a swell ruling, but I doubt they'd hold to it if they had people living on the easement in front of their homes.

The only hope I see of continued access for OHVs will be more structured use, and it'd be smart for OHV proponents to promote plans that reasonably address the concerns of the people against their use. Since air quality is one of the major issues, whatever is proposed should have independent monitoring to demonstrate the efficacy of the plan, with measures to take already in the plan to enact if the air quality fails to improve.

Limiting engine displacement, mandating muffler requirements, permits, and banning camping and/or fires, would all seem to address the complaints, but still allow OHV use. If the OHV community doesn't take an active role in making improvements, they'll have to live with whatever their opponents decide. It seems like the Closers are more numerous and better organized, so telling them to piss off will have predictable results.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Physical access to the public land? Yes.
Access by means someone else is dictating. For the most part the restrictions don't close land permanently just as long as you jump the barriers put up, so the point is agreed that they haven't completely eliminated access.

So I'll make one argument to the point that nuanced details like how you use your public lands is preferential. When roads and trails are made off limits to technology like vehicles you raise the bar for gaining access very high and so defacto you close a great deal of land. What used to take hours to see now will take days and weeks.

Unless you're on a horse or raft. Then you get essentially a private playground at the taxpayer's expense.
Access by any means? No. Access can be regulated by the government, just as it is in other public spaces. Just because it's public land doesn't mean anyone can do whatever they want on it, even if the 9th Circuit thinks that's the way it should be. I'm sure that seemed like a swell ruling, but I doubt they'd hold to it if they had people living on the easement in front of their homes.
So does the government work for us or do we work for them? I was under the belief that our system of government is supposed to implement our desire. That 9th Circuit ruling seems to agree that if The People want to use their collectively owned land (in that case perhaps a public park) in a particular way the government must accommodate it.
The only hope I see of continued access for OHVs will be more structured use, and it'd be smart for OHV proponents to promote plans that reasonably address the concerns of the people against their use. Since air quality is one of the major issues, whatever is proposed should have independent monitoring to demonstrate the efficacy of the plan, with measures to take already in the plan to enact if the air quality fails to improve.

Limiting engine displacement, mandating muffler requirements, permits, and banning camping and/or fires, would all seem to address the complaints, but still allow OHV use. If the OHV community doesn't take an active role in making improvements, they'll have to live with whatever their opponents decide. It seems like the Closers are more numerous and better organized, so telling them to piss off will have predictable results.
They are more organized without a doubt. I also agree that with a right comes responsibility. I don't like jerks any more than the most anti-OHV environmentalist. We do definitely bring on the pain ourselves. I mean that collectively, meaning a yahoo side-by-side must necessarily be inclusive of the most lightest Tread'er, since splintering is politically worse than throwing one user group under the bus. But unfortunately the self policing must do just that. If they can't play nice then what alternative is there?

The problem is that the simple act of being there is offensive. There is no acceptable use low enough impact that will assuage the opponent other than being strictly limited to a few corridors and locations. Yet the dunes have been there for eons and have been driven upon for decades. They were vehicles using the dunes before there were houses around it. So couldn't the argument be having houses is infringing on the users there first?

Of course the argument is the flora and fauna were there before people, so humans being anywhere is a challenge to what was there earlier. But that's a circular existential argument because the ecosystem is always changing, so it must be limited to human interactions with each other, especially in this case because to be logically consistent if vehicles are bad then surely houses, streets, power lines and commuter are worse for the wildlife and environment, right? So shouldn't the opponents using "environment" as justification be tearing down their houses, too? Oh no, we're "enlightened" so the footprints we leave while living are less damaging than yours.

So I don't think we can't keep losing access and I don't see any measured improvement keeping, much less re-opening, anything. Why must we -always- lose access. It's not just OHVs, mountain bikes are more popular than ever yet we're funneled onto fewer trails with predictable results, more wear and damage. At which point the anti-MTB forces highlight the wear and damage as justification for more closures. It's a spiral that will only end when only approved uses (as decided by who?) are permitted. That's what I see as the end goal, hundreds of millions of acres left reserved for only those wealthy enough to afford weeks of off time to spend walking in the woods.
 

shade

Well-known member
Access by means someone else is dictating. For the most part the restrictions don't close land permanently just as long as you jump the barriers put up, so the point is agreed that they haven't completely eliminated access.
Sure. It's an old game used to get the desired result. "We won't ban use on this lake by jet skis, but we do require a $1,000,000 insurance policy for jet ski use."

So I'll make one argument to the point that nuanced details like how you use your public lands is preferential. When roads and trails are made off limits to technology like vehicles you raise the bar for gaining access very high and so defacto you close a great deal of land. What used to take hours to see now will take days and weeks.

Unless you're on a horse or raft. Then you get essentially a private playground at the taxpayer's expense.
True. I think many of the overuse issues should be addressed by permits instead of closures, just like backpacking permits. At some point, an area can't bear the load, but that doesn't mean it's necessary to ban a particular mode of transportation. The sad truth is that it's easier to just say no than it is to develop and implement a usage plan. Horse & raft generally get a pass for now, but that could easily change.

So does the government work for us or do we work for them? I was under the belief that our system of government is supposed to implement our desire. That 9th Circuit ruling seems to agree that if The People want to use their collectively owned land (in that case perhaps a public park) in a particular way the government must accommodate it.
The key aspect of your statement is "our desire". These use issues are rarely one sided, whether it be OHV use of Pismo, or people that live on public sidewalks.

That 9th Circuit ruling is being applied to all public spaces, not just parks, which is why people are being allowed to live on any public property they want. The flip side to that is there are plenty of people that don't want that to occur on the public property that they have rights to access, too. The end result is chaos. Frankly, I can see it being used to justify access to Pismo for OHV use, since it's public land, right?

They are more organized without a doubt. I also agree that with a right comes responsibility. I don't like jerks any more than the most anti-OHV environmentalist. We do definitely bring on the pain ourselves. I mean that collectively, meaning a yahoo side-by-side must necessarily be inclusive of the most lightest Tread'er, since splintering is politically worse than throwing one user group under the bus. But unfortunately the self policing must do just that. If they can't play nice then what alternative is there?
I have no solution for the Jerk Factor in public spaces. At least permits would theoretically limit the overall concentration of jerks at any given moment.

The problem is that the simple act of being there is offensive. There is no acceptable use low enough impact that will assuage the opponent other than being strictly limited to a few corridors and locations. Yet the dunes have been there for eons and have been driven upon for decades. They were vehicles using the dunes before there were houses around it. So couldn't the argument be having houses is infringing on the users there first?
I get that, but as I'm sure you know, it's a losing argument. The people live there now, and they aren't going away just so some sand rails can fly over the dunes.

Of course the argument is the flora and fauna were there before people, so humans being anywhere is a challenge to what was there earlier. But that's a circular existential argument because the ecosystem is always changing, so it must be limited to human interactions with each other, especially in this case because to be logically consistent if vehicles are bad then surely houses, streets, power lines and commuter are worse for the wildlife and environment, right? So shouldn't the opponents using "environment" as justification be tearing down their houses, too? Oh no, we're "enlightened" so the footprints we leave while living are less damaging than yours.

So I don't think we can't keep losing access and I don't see any measured improvement keeping, much less re-opening, anything. Why must we -always- lose access. It's not just OHVs, mountain bikes are more popular than ever yet we're funneled onto fewer trails with predictable results, more wear and damage. At which point the anti-MTB forces highlight the wear and damage as justification for more closures. It's a spiral that will only end when only approved uses (as decided by who?) are permitted. That's what I see as the end goal, hundreds of millions of acres left reserved for only those wealthy enough to afford weeks of off time to spend walking in the woods.
We don't have to, and we shouldn't be losing access at such an alarming rate. You're absolutely right about people not giving an inch on their position on either side, which means that the numbers will always favour the people pushing for closures. That's clearly their goal, and they have the momentum, public support, funding, and political clout to make it happen.

Unfortunately, it's taken decades to get to such a state of polarization, and like other topics, it's hard to reach a point of moderation. I know it feels good for OHVers to trash the opposition and dig into their positions, but that's guaranteed to lose more ground. Better to engage with the opposition and let them expose themselves as the extremists they are than to play into the stereotypes they use to characterize every OHV operator.
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
The important thing is that these lands stay public. There has been an alarming push to sell state public lands, or even federal ones, to private owners. As long as the land is publicly owned, it is possible to restore access. We are currently living in the midst of a population growth phase, where individual wealth is permitting extensive usage of these lands in some areas. While there is an initial pushback, I hope that a happy medium can be found.

Part of the solution is opening up more areas near population centers for recreation of various types. State, and federal governments have resisted this for various reasons. Part of it is the belief by (us) voters that certain things are out of the governments preview, such as extensive park/recreation systems. Part of it is that we have been severely lagging in public works spending for about 30 years now.
 
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rayra

Expedition Leader
Luthj your viewpoint is ahistorical and far too worshipful of the almighty State. Pismo was an off-road recreational site long before it was overtaken by government regulation, usage / access fees or encroached upon by housing decade after decade.
It has been steadily shrunk, access limited, regulation upon regulation imposed. The end goal of the environmentalists is zero motorized access of any so-called Public lands in CA. Most of the ‘public land’ agencies are staffed by such people. There will be no more compromise solutions. 90% of the space has already been compromised away. This is the final act for Pismo.
 

shade

Well-known member
Luthj your viewpoint is ahistorical and far too worshipful of the almighty State. Pismo was an off-road recreational site long before it was overtaken by government regulation, usage / access fees or encroached upon by housing decade after decade.
It has been steadily shrunk, access limited, regulation upon regulation imposed. The end goal of the environmentalists is zero motorized access of any so-called Public lands in CA. Most of the ‘public land’ agencies are staffed by such people. There will be no more compromise solutions. 90% of the space has already been compromised away. This is the final act for Pismo.
Are you saying it's a lost cause at this point? I'm not arguing the point; it looks very bleak.
 

shade

Well-known member
The important thing is that these lands stay public. There has been an alarming push to sell state public lands, or even federal ones, to private owners. As long as the land is publicly owned, it is possible to restore access. We are currently living in the midst of a population growth phase, where individual wealth is permitting extensive usage of these lands in some areas. While there is an initial pushback, I hope that a happy medium can be found.

Part of the solution is opening up more areas near population centers for recreation of various types. State, and federal governments have resisted this for various reasons. Part of it is the belief by (us) voters that certain things are out of the governments preview, such as extensive park/recreation systems. Part of it is that we have been severely lagging in public works spending for about 30 years now.
I'd like to see the public lands managed in a way that accommodates multiple uses better. In a Death Valley discussion, someone mentioned that problems of over/stupid use began to crop up as more effort was put into road maintenance. Allowing a route like the Saline Valley Road to deteriorate would act as a natural barrier to over/stupid use, and it would cost less to implement. To me, that's the kind of smart management that's needed in some areas.

I'm for funding maintenance on existing roads and the like, but I'm hesitant to support any expansion into wild places. No, I don't consider Pismo to be a wild place. It sounds like that hasn't applied to the area for decades.
 

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Mike W.

Well-known member
I've used Pismo dunes for 45 years. I've watched disappear. California has an elected government problem. I just canceled my week at the beach next month..I have thousands of miles of trails and BLM land to my disposal 2 miles from my front door..Utah, Arizona, Nevada all accessible without ever touching pavement..

Good Luck California..One more reason to not miss you..
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
Are you saying it's a lost cause at this point? I'm not arguing the point; it looks very bleak.
I do get the feeling the outcome is pre-determined and the path is kabuki theater.

I came to that thought after seeing what's happened the last couple of years of the San Rafael Swell. It's been a contentious area for years, a push-pull between Sierra Club-backed SUWA (who is based in SLC, not southern Utah unless you count having a PO Box in Moab) and mostly dirt bike clubs in Emery County. There have been lawsuits and injunctions, which was put to rest with an agreement in 2017 between all parties, BLM, SUWA, BlueRibbon Coalition, etc.

Then it all suddenly changed in November 2018 when a very favorable political climate existed suddenly. Amid the government shutdown was crafted legislation (I think it existed all along just waiting) that organized a backroom land swap deal that came with it closing of 660,000 acres (with 75 miles of primitive roads) and about a dozen new Wildernesses laid out. It was basically the pie-in-the-sky wish list of SUWA that they couldn't get through prior, so they sued the BLM to stall and tied it up for decades.

BlueRibbon Coalition and IMBA stood by and didn't really help the local grassroots, the county commissioners gave a one day notice that they were going to vote on whether to approve the land swap. The whole thing was railroaded and the pressure of a huge omnibus Congressional bill (Senate S.47) hinged on what happened in little Emery County.

The commissioners didn't want to hear opposition from their own constituents, much less people from Moab, Grand Junction, SLC, Denver or where ever else.

Oh, and just to make sure the source of real opposition was quiet they did not exclude anyone currently grazing cattle in the new Wildernesses. If there's anything that puts pressure on natural landscapes it would seem running cattle would be on the list.

So yes, I think the political machine is in motion and without real support from the likes of Jeep, Toyota, Kawasaki, Honda to help push back the monied backing from REI, Patagucchi, Columbia, etc. will get through what Sierra Club want to get through.

The problem is public perception and indifference. They hear "wilderness" and think it just means "not a mall." Since most people are not directly involved or bothered it doesn't matter to them and who would be against keeping open space?
 
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