SLO County APCD staff has received several inquiries by the community regarding air quality downwind of the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area (Oceano Dunes), SLO County APCD has developed a Frequently Asked Questions Guide (FAQ Guide) to help answer questions and help the public understand what immediate and long-term impacts may be realized from the COVID-19 related temporary closure of the Oceano Dunes.
At the May 29 APCD Board Meeting the Scientific Advisory Group provided a presentation on the Oceano Dunes mitigation efforts. The presentation is linked below in PDF format.
As mentioned in our April 1 update, the Governor ordered the full closure of California State Parks to all recreational vehicular traffic effective March 29, 2020. Currently, recreational access to the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreational Area (Oceano Dunes) is limited to non-campground and non-vehicular uses of outdoor areas. The sole motivation for these temporary changes is the need to reduce crowding and disease transmission to address the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency.
SLO County APCD staff has received several inquiries as to what immediate and long-term impacts may be realized from the temporary closure of the Oceano Dunes.
The SAG has developed a formal letter and guidance on this topic, and it can be found here.
In response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and statewide restrictions on non-essential activities, the APCD has closed its office to walk-in traffic and most staff are working remotely. The District's network of permanent air quality monitors continues to operate without interruption, including the CDF, Mesa2, NRP, and Oso Flaco stations near the Oceano Dunes Off Highway Vehicle (OHV) Park. In addition, all of the District's temporary monitors on the Nipomo Mesa continue to operate. The real-time data is still available on our website (www.slocleanair.org), www.airnow.gov, and through all the usual sites and apps that the public uses. AirAware blowing dust alerts will continue.
During the temporary closure of the OHV Park, the extensive network of monitors on the dunes and behind them are well suited to obtain emissions data. Although we are hopeful to see some immediate reductions in particulate emissions, we don’t expect the effects of long-term activity will disappear in a few weeks or months.
In addition, all mitigation and monitoring projects that State Parks committed to implement in 2020 are still on track. State Parks has already fenced off and the planted the 48-acre foredune project, which is a key element of November's Stipulated Order of Abatement (SOA). They have also completed the 40 acres of temporary dust controls and the 4.2 acres of straw treatment in the back dune area, as required by the SOA. These 90+ acres of new controls are in addition to the existing controls that have been in place since 2018. Sand flux monitors, which measure how much sand is moving during wind events, have already been installed in these mitigation areas, and 15 temporary meteorology stations within the OHV Park are currently being installed. While upcoming in-person meetings have been cancelled, the SAG is continuing its work.
Interested in seeing all the steps that have been taken to reduce particulate matter on the NIpomo Mesa? We have developed a comprehensive flow-chart to help! Click here to see.
The SLO County APCD has approved the 2020 Dust Control Projects based on the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) recommendations. In addition, the SAG has also approved changes to 2019 Annual Report and Work Plan per the requirement included under the Modified Stipulated Order of Abatement approved by the Hearing Board on November 18, 2019 . Foredune project plantings and other 2020 mitigations are currently in process.
2020 Dust Control Project Approval - SOA 17-01
2020 Dust Control Projects
2020 Dust Control Projects - SAG Final Comments
2019 Annual Report and Work Plan - SAG Final Comments
2019 Annual Report and Work Plan
In November, the APCD Hearing Board held a hearing with the SLO County APCD and State Parks Directors. The meeting provided a venue and opportunity for the public to provide comment on the most recent Modified Stipulated Order of Abatement in relation to the Oceano Dunes OHV area.
Since the meeting, State Parks has worked to comply with several requirements in the Order including:
State Parks Initial Proposal for 2020 Dust Control Projects
State Parks Revised Annual Report & Work Plan (ARWP)
Transmittal Letter for the ARWP
Scientific Advisory Group Response to 2020 Dust Control Projects
SLO County APCD January 21, 2020 Response
The Hearing Board has provided notice that it will conduct a public hearing on Monday, November 18, 2019 at 9:00am. The location of the hearing board will be the South County Regional Center at 800 West Branch Street in Arroyo Grande. Those interested are welcome to attend and the public will be provided the opportunity to provide public comment. The links below provide additional information on this upcoming meeting.
On October 15, 2019, State Parks provided another iteration of the 2019 Annuarl Report & Work Plan for APCD and the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) review. Following that submittal, the SAG provided an extensive response letter, which is posted below. A tentative Hearing Board date has been set for November 18, 2019 at 9:00 a.m. at the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande. The petition of the APCD Hearing Board to consider Order of Abatement 17-01 is being finalized and will be posted to the website soon - when it is available, all documents will available as another update on this page. APCD and the SAG continue to work collaboratively with State Parks to find common ground for a joint proposal that the APCD Hearing Board can consider in November.
APCD & the Scientific Advisory Group have reviewed the second draft of the 2019 Annual Report & Work Plan (ARWP) that was submitted by State Parks. State Parks' Second Draft 2019 ARWP, APCD's response to the Plan, as well as the Plan's transmittal letter are all posted below. A SAG-approved ARWP is due by October 25, 2019. If APCD's review finds the ARWP is approvable, a workshop will be rescheduled for early December. If we cannot find the plan approvable, a hearing on SOA 17-01 by the SLO County APCD's Hearing Board will be held, most likely in early December.
State Parks has completed the first draft of their 2019 Annual Report & Work Plan (ARWP) and has submitted it to the APCD and Scientific Advisory Group for their comments. State Parks is now currently working on a revision to the first draft of the 2019 ARWP that will incorporate the Scientific Advisory Groups requested changes when they are discussed the beginning of September. A final workshop version of the 2019 ARWP releasd on September 16, 2019; 16 days prior to the October 1, 2019 workshop. Below are the recent and upcoming milestones for this project:
August 1: 1st Draft of the 2019 Annual Report & Work Plan received from State Parks
September 16: Workshop version of the 2019 ARWP will be released
October 1: 2019 ARWP Public Workshop at the South County Regional Center in Arroyo Grande at 6:00pm
October - November: APCO approval of the 2019 Annual Report & Work Plan
Winter 2019/2020: Permitting & mitigation installation of the projects specified in the 2019 ARWP
The SLO County APCD and the Scientific Advisory Group have both submitted comment letters on State Park's Notice of Preparation of a Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Public Scoping Meeting. State Park's documents can be seen by clicking here.
As part of the ongoing implementation of the Stipulated Order of Abatement Number 17-01, State Parks has submitted an updated Particulate Matter Reduction Plan in June 2019. This plan is not a “project” as defined by CEQA, however a process that will outline an approach to development of the annual Workplan, which is due on August 1, 2019. A public workshop for the workplan will be held in Fall 2019 to allow the public an opportunity to review the workplan and provide comments.
The SLO County APCD has issued an approval of the June 10, 2019 Particulate Reduction Plan to State Parks. The approval is subject to the multiple qualifications and conditions as set forth in the Draft Particulate Matter Reduction Plan (DPMRP), and should not be considered as an approve of "definite course of action" as defined by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guideline 15352.
Although the PMRP is identified as an initial, conceptual, and preliminary plan, it is approved as is defines what a proposed project should and could include.
Upcoming Milestone Dates:
June 30, 2019: Temporary track-out devices to be installed on Grand & Pier Avenue entrances.
July 2019 - November 2019: State Park's project environmental review process
August 1, 2019: Draft 2019 Annual Work Plan due from State Parks
September / October 2019: Public Workshop to be held on the 2019 Annual Workplan
October / November 2019: 2019 Annual Plan approval
Winder 2019/2020: mitigation installation of projects in the 2019 Annual Workplan
On May 1, 2019, SLO County APCD, State Parks and the Scientific Advisory Group conducted a public workshop at the South County Regional Center to present the Oceano Dunes Draft Particulate Matter Reduction Plan. Below are links to the presentations that were presented at that workshop, as well as all of the comments received in person at the workshop. Also below is a link to the public comments received via email@example.com. This document will be updated regularly to reflect new comments received up until the May 15, 2019 closing date.
Stipulated Order of Abatement Number 17-01 California Department of Parks and Recreation
In response to the Stipulated Order of Abatement (SOA) #17-01 with the SLO County APCD, California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) submitted the Revised Oceano Dunes SVRA Concept Draft Particulate Matter Reduction Plan (DPMRP) on March 28, 2019, which was updated based on comments from SLO County APCD and the Scientific Advisory Group’s (SAG) preliminary review of the initial February draft plan.
Stipulated Order of Abatement Number 17-01 California Department of Parks and Recreation
In response to the Stipulated Order of Abatement Number 17-01 (SOA #17-01) condition 2.g, California Department of Parks and Recreation (State Parks) has submitted the Oceano Dunes SVRA Concept Draft Particulate Matter Reduction Plan (DPMRP) on February 1, 2019 and a revised DPMRP on February 21, 2019.
The SLO County APCD’s preliminary review letter was prepared without the benefit of reviewing the comments of the appointed Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) and further SLO County APCD comments will be forthcoming after review of those comments with State Parks and the SAG itself.
In order to give the public an adequate chance to review a more refined PMRP that meets requirements of the SOA #17-01, before the public workshop required by SOA#17-01, the changes requested by the SAG and the SLO County APCD will be addressed by March 22, 2019. The SLO County APCD intends to post and circulate a revised draft PMRP at least 30 days prior to the public workshop. The workshop is scheduled for May 1, 2019 at 6:00pm at the South County Regional Center, 800 West Branch Street in Arroyo Grande.
Over the past 10 years, both the Air Pollution Control District and the OHV Division of State Parks have performed numerous scientific studies to determine the nature, cause and extent of the high particulate matter (PM) concentrations impacting air quality and public health on the Nipomo Mesa. In April 2018, a Stipulated Abatement Order was approved by the APCD Hearing Board. For more information on the numerous studies and all related documents, please click here.
Efforts to reduce particulate matter on the Nipomo Mesa are underway through Stipulated Abatement Order 17-01 entered between the San Luis Obispo County APCD and California Department of Parks and Recreation Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (State Parks). The Order was approved by the APCD Hearing Board on April 30, 2018. This stipulated abatement order calls out specific actions to ensure significant reductions in particulate matter are achieved on the Nipomo Mesa over a five-year period. These actions include:
An annual Report and Work Plan will be prepared with assistance from the SAG for each year of the five-year term of the Particulate Matter Reduction Plan for the Air Pollution Control Officer’s (APCO) approval. Each report will fulfill the following requirements:
The APCO will determine approvability of the Annual Reports and Work Plans (Reports) through the following process: