Update on the fight for Oceano


Well-Known Member
Apr 1, 2001
Update on Oceano Dunes

May 6, 2002

Showing support for State Parks and Recreation efforts to keep the Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) open, Assemblyman Mike Briggs - (R) Fresno, Russ Brooks from Pacific Legal Foundation, Jim Suty, President of Friends of Oceano Dunes and others today held a press conference announcing a lawsuit, filed by Pacific Legal Foundation, "charging the federal government with illegally designating habitat for the (threatened) Western Snowy Plover by failing to adequately assess economic impacts."

OHV lobbyists, Pete Conaty and Terry McHale, were instrumental in developing both of the attached letters and collecting signatures from the 40 legislators who signed the letter to the Coastal Commission.

In conjunction with the press conference, Friends of Oceano Dunes, delivered over 17,000 signatures to the Governor's office requesting the dunes remain open to the public.

The California Coastal Commission (CCC) will vote on extending the ODSVRA operating permit on Wednesday, May 8th, at their meeting in Santa Rosa. The CCC staff is recommending that the commission close 1/2 of the remaining off road area and to disregard the scientific recommendation that State Parks conduct a predator removal plan to remove the Shrike, which is killing the Western Snowy Plover.

Jim Suty, President, Friends of Oceano Dunes, will be leading the charge at the Coastal Commission meeting on May 8th.

Below are two letters, the first to the California Coastal Commission, signed by 40 Legislators, requesting the Dunes remain open. This is a bipartisan effort on behalf of the legislature.

April 30, 2002
California Coastal Commission
45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000
San Francisco, CA 94105-2219


Dear Coastal Commission:

We respectively request that the Coastal Commission reject the staff recommendation to reconstitute the makeup and objectives of the Technical Review Team (TRT) and, instead, allow the stakeholder group to complete its important data-gathering and review functions that were outlined just last year.

We also request that no additional closures to the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation site (OHMVR) at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area be imposed by the Coastal Commission.

Even from a distance, it is clear that the Department of Parks and Recreation is correct that any action regarding new closures is capricious at best and, at worst, politically motivated. It is wrong to expect the off-highway vehicle community, after giving up 85% of the land where they have been allowed to ride over the past 20 years, to be asked, without any scientific justification, to give up more property. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that we are waiting for an independent scientific study to be submitted on Oceano Dunes.

Let’s be clear, the approach taken by those who are fundamentally opposed to off road activity under any condition should not be awarded the victory of incrementally removing more off road recreational area.

Oceano Dunes has been a popular site for working class families to camp and to drive their automobiles since the turn of the century. The incremental enclosures being proposed are premature and would have significant negative consequences to the area. More than 1.2 million people each year go to Oceano Dunes to not only ride off-highway vehicles, but also to ride horses, fish, walk the beaches and camp. It is one of the last economical vacations available at the ocean in California. Not surprisingly, approximately one-half of the visitors to Oceano Dunes are working class families from the Central Valley.

The OHV community has been lauded in the past for their efforts to be environmentally aware. Ironically, the total focus of the opposition seems to be claiming the 1,500 remaining acres, rather than focusing on the environmental concerns within the 13,500 acres they have already taken over during the past two decades.


Assemblyman Dean Florez
Assemblyman Roy Ashburn
Senator Dick Monteith
Senator Pete Knight
Senator Jim Brulte
Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes
Assembly Ken Maddox
Assemblyman Bill Campbell
Assemblyman Dick Dickerson
Senator Boll Morrow
Senator Dick Ackerman
Senator James Battin
Senator Bob Margett
Assemblyman Dennis Hollingsworth
Assemblyman Mike Briggs
Assemblyman Anthony Pescetti
Assemblyman Dave Cox
Assemblyman Russ Bogh
Assemblyman Tom Harman
Assemblyman Dave Cogdill
Assemblyman Keith Richman
Assemblyman Dave Kelley
Assemblyman Bill Leonard
Assemblyman Ed Chavez
Assemblyman Joseph Canciamilla
Assemblyman Juan Vargas
Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy
Assemblyman Sam Aanestad
Assemblyman Jay La Suer
Assemblymwoman Patricia Bates
Assemblyman John Campbell
Assembly woman Lynne Leach
Senator Jim Costa
Senator Charles Poochigian
Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza
Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews
Assemblyman Tony Strickland
Assemblyman Mark Wyland
Assemblyman Robert Pacheco

The second letter is a letter to Governor Gray Davis, thanking him for his support of off-road recreation in California and presenting the 17,000 signatures.

Friends of Oceano Dunes
P. O. Box 398
Oceano, CA 93445

April 3, 2002

The Honorable Gray Davis
Office of the Governor
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Davis;

The off road enthusiast and business organizations in California, especially the Friends of Oceano Dunes, are grateful for the support your Administration has offered in our efforts to ensure that Oceano Dunes State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) remains open to the hard working, middle-class families it hosts each year.

Under your leadership, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has expressed an understanding that while 14,400 acres have been lost to off-roaders in the past twenty years, the remaining 1500 acres are being used to recreate responsibly. It would be unconscionable to allow any board, commission, bureaucrat or extremist group to tell almost one million visitors to Oceano Dunes SVRA each year that in spite of their preservation efforts and responsible behavior this last available section of California beach is being taken away from them.

It is interesting to note that most of the visitors to Oceano Dunes are working families from the central valley. We are attaching, as a cursory reflection of their feelings, more than 17,000 signatures collected by the Friends of Oceano Dunes, that were recently gathered when it was mentioned that Oceano Dunes might be closed to their form of responsible recreation. They are justifiably outraged that the elitist homeowners who would benefit financially by the closure, and others who refuse to believe that any behavior other than their own is acceptable, would rally support from your Coastal Commission in a biased, demagogic and ill-advised move to deny families access to Oceano Dunes.

Governor Davis, we believe that inclusion and balance are the hallmark of your Administration. We have done everything possible to be both cooperative and pro-active so that Oceano Dunes SVRA can remain an example of how off-road vehicle recreation should be maintained. We are asking for your personal support when the issue of whether or not these five miles of coastline should remain open goes before the Coastal Commission May 7-10 for a renewal of its permit.

Friends of Oceano Dunes is a 501(c)(3) California Not-for-Profit Public Benefit Corporation, comprised of over 17,000 members. We represent businesses, environmentalists, equestrians, campers, fishermen, families and off-road enthusiasts who enjoy the benefits of Public Access through Responsible Recreation at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area (ODSVRA). We want to maintain Access For All!

Again, thank you for your willingness to listen to the off-road community during your first term as governor. We would love to take you on a ride at Oceano Dunes to show you first-hand how respectful we are of this area where we want to continue taking our families.


Friends of Oceano Dunes
Jim Suty, President

American Motorcyclist Association, District 36
Bill Dart, Legislative Chairman, President

American Motorcyclist Association, District 37, Off Road
Jim Geddes, President

American Motorcyclist Association, District 37, Dual Sports
Dave Tonkiss, President

American Motorcyclist Association, National
Nick Harris, Western Regional Director

American Sand Association
Jerry Seaver, President

California Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, Inc.
Don Klusman, Legislative Chairman

California League of Off Road Voters
Michelle Cassella, President

California-Nevada Snowmobile Association
Ron Rawlings, Legislative Director

California Off Road Vehicle Association
Ed Waldheim, President

Coalition of Off Road Desert Racers
Paige Donahoe, President

Coalition for Public Access
Jack Raudy, Executive Director

Los Pretot’s Desert Club
Harold Soens, Vice President

Off Road Business Association
Roy Denner, President

San Diego Off Road Coalition
Jim McGarvie, President

cc: Mary Nichols, Secretary, Resources Agency
Ruth Coleman, Acting Director, Department of Parks and Recreation
David Widell, Deputy Director, Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division
Sara Wan, Chairperson, California Coastal Commission
Honorable Members, California Legislature

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