The Oceano Dunes - A Commons We All Share

The Oceano dunes lie within the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Complex which contains several distinct regions, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area [ODSVRA] is one controversial region. Conservation vs. Recreation gets top billing, but jobs-money, endangered speices and pollution play a role. Everything is a matter of perspective. A tourist has one, a local, a conservationist, an ATV rider have others. The ODSVRA is a Rorschach test through which we can catch a glimpse of our culturally pre-conditioned worldview.

Believing is seeing, one my favorite topics. Some, like me, believe we’re all [flora, fauna, microbes,minerals, forces and faeries] equal partners and that any arrogant destruction by us of 'others' is actually suicide. That none has dominion over another, that it's a self serving delusion to believe humans have a 'special' relationship with the divine or that everything was created as a resource for us, the rogue primate.

Being a tourist my perspective can afford to be long on ideals, whereas if my job or my family's dinner were on the line i fear those ideals would have far less leverage. Plus, being a human, i am a polluter, we all are. We all draw our line in the sand differently, we all do our best [however we each define it], but as a 'sinner' myself i find it hard to throw stones at other people's recreational choices.

Solutions to some of the more contentious problems seem clear. Driving through the creek is stupid, it's a drive through an undercarriage car wash, it seems obvious this should be stopped immediately. From my perspective, so should driving on the beach period. From a conservation perspective, allowing uninterrupted access to and from the tidal flats and stopping the endless belching of the metal monsters would be a huge step. From a local residents' perspective, the picnics might be more pleasant, the beach walks safer and the noise less deafening.

From a recreation perspective, the dunes could still be reached from the rear staging area. Yes, a backdoor is still access-still pollution, but getting gas guzzlers off the beach, even if the ATVs were still in their designated area, would be an upgrade for the creek and the whole beach's ecosphere.

The future of the ODSVRA is uncertain. The future of the eco-tourist business is huge. The Pismo-Grover-Oceano area would attract other types of tourists to its natural beauty if the metal monsters were silenced on the beaches. Parks are a modern commons. Commons is an old word meaning 'what we share'. Anyone can use the commons, so long as there is enough left for everyone else, it offers hope for a saner, safer, more enjoyable future for us all.