One topic is missing from the Oceano Dunes off-roading debate

I would like to comment on Adam Verdin’s letter (“Is it time we all shift our thinking on Oceano?” Aug. 10). He seems desirous of compromise about driving on local beaches and Oceano Dunes. Of his many points, I will address one and an unmentioned other.

As a former economist, the economic study Verdin refers to is a rehash of an older flawed State Parks study using invalid methodologies. Both conflate various activities across coastal multiple use areas to inflate the total. 

The sum is not greater but less than the actual parts. An accurate economic study analyzes impacts of each activity within its defined area and its population to understand accurate economic impacts. Also necessary would be analysis of the impact of populations not wanting to visit because of vehicle beach use and off-road dune activities; that is to say, included in the study would be a contrasting element for the impact of green tourism. Such a study requires diligent survey work and thus significant monetary investment. Peer review is a requirement.

The glaring missing topic is compromised respiratory systems. It is well known that areas of the Nipomo Mesa are subject to serious particulate matter pollution too often violating state standards. This is caused by off-road activities in the dunes. The symptoms range from discomfort to runny noses, itchy eyes, constant coughing, need of an inhaler during serious impact hours, and in tragic cases, death. 

The numbers are hidden; the public no longer has access to health statistics by ZIP code. That children must remain in home or school during high risk hours goes unmentioned. Those denying this may share the view that cigarettes do not cause various illnesses, even death. 

Also, rarely mentioned are compromised respiratory systems of pets and wildlife, endangered and not.

Karl Kempton

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