Journal archives for February 2021

February 27, 2021

Oppose New Development at Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area, Comments due March 18

Hello friends in conservation of biodiversity and habitat!
The draft Oceano Dunes Public Works Plan and Environmental Impact Report is out.
The plan is BAD NEWS for the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area!

Please email your comments now to the California Coastal Commission and State Parks by March 18: AND

State Parks wants to put in a HUGE campground next to Oso Flaco Lake, bringing an impact on water tables, water quality, trash, and the introduction of dog waste to the area. For example, in their "future" plan, it includes:

"3.3.7 Oso Flaco (Future) Improvement Project
Up to 200 RV campsites with 12 combination (restroom and shower) buildings."

See Appendix A1. -

This good word from Kara at Friends Of Oso Flaco Lake:
"The California Coastal Commission just released its staff report on the State Parks draft PWP/EIR. See that report here:

The report generally rejects the draft PWP/EIR and calls for the five-year phase out of off-highway vehicles at Oceano Dunes. As stated in the FOOFL (Friends Of Oso Flaco Lake) letter, this staff report and its recommendations have been a long time coming; it’s the right answer for the Central Coast, from the perspective of public health, economic vitality for the region, wildlife protection, environmental justice, community fairness, and access to the beach and coast, for all people."

See their great Power Point -

Sample Letter -

Now, to focus on threats to Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area species of concern!

Simply put, the water quality and water table levels are already an issue, especially with Cirsium scariosum var. loncholepis, the La Graciosa thistle.

Out of 23 known occurrences, 2 are extirpated (gone forever from that location), and 12 are presumed extirpated.

QUOTE": "Threatened by development, vehicles, groundwater pumping, and non-native plants. Possibly threatened by grazing."

I disagree with digging a new well for the State Parks proposed PWP that includes flush toilets, and staff offices and housing.

I think we need to instead, A) monitor water quality B) actively use technology to remove nitrates from the water entering the watershed from the agricultural fields.

In Santa Maria, there is a bio-filter that catches farm field runoff before the water enters the Santa Maria River. This greatly reduces nitrates. The microorganisms in the marshy areas of Oso Flaco Lake are the primordial lowest level food chain creatures, and they are sensitive to water quality also.

For decades people have been attempting to restore and protect Little Oso Flaco Lake, Oso Flaco Lake, and Oso Flaco Creek. These are rare dune lakes found in a rare habitat - The Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes.

The Oso Flaco Lake Natural area, is part of this 18 mile dune complex, and is an 800 acre parcel to the immediate north of the existing Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge.

QUOTE from the page:
"Did you know?
There are at least 26 imperiled plants and 118 imperiled animals that can be found on the refuge and surrounding dune habitats."

There was an extensive survey of much of the dune complex (aprox. 8,330 acres) that is eligible to be included in the Refuge, should the existing land owners cooperate. For example, The California Department of Parks and Recreation (aka State Parks) who owns the 800 acre Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area parcel, could, if they chose to do so, grant an easement, donate, or sell the parcel to become part of the existing refuge, and managed as a whole along with the existing land immediately adjacent to the south. The details and the comprehensive plans for conservation, as well as lists of species can be found here:

When land is included in a National Wildlife Refuge, certain passive recreation, that is dependent on the resource, is usually allowed. These may include wildlife photography, hiking, fishing, hunting, and primitive camping. This would not include developed camping.

So, tell State Parks to do the right thing, donate the existing 800 acre parcel to be managed under the existing Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, and don't propose any development that is not in compliance with a National Wildlife Refuge plan.

As I mentioned, some of my main concerns with allowing what State Parks wants to do to the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area include the impact to the La Graciosa thistle (federally listed as endangered). This plant already had populations extirpated in the area from illegal OHV use in the 1970's. Of course the Western Snowy Plover with only about 2,600 individuals left makes a home in the foredunes here.

As I mentioned in this journal post ( in 1976 a joint report from the California Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, named "The natural resources of the Nipomo Dunes and Wetlands" explained that due to unregulated OHV use around Little Oso Flaco Lake, the vegetation was destroyed, and then the once stabilized dunes became active. Once the dunes started to move, scientists noticed excess siltation in Little Oso Flaco Lake (upstream from Oso Flaco Lake). The volume of the lakes was on the decline, and something needed to be done.

For decades after, The Nature Conservancy and volunteers were the ones who worked on the restoration, not State Parks. Then The Nature Conservancy handed over the restoration to State Parks, who promised to continue the work. History is here:

I went to the Santa Maria Library and found the history on conservation, here are some scanned articles:

Some Federal Species of Concern in the Oso Flaco Lake Natural Area are;

Point Conception Jerusalem Cricket, Sandy Beach Tiger Beetle, Rude's Longhorn Beetle, White Sand Bear Scarab Beetle, Globose Dune Beetle, Morro Bay Blue Butterfly, Smith Blue Butterfly, Oso Flaco Patch Checkerspot Butterfly, Oso Flaco Flightless Moth, Oso Flaco Robberfly, California Toad, Western Spadefoot Toad, California Tiger Salamander.

Also, there are many species of year-round and migratory birds who visit the lakes.

California least tern (Sternula antillarum browni) - federally endangered
western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) - federally threatened
American peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) - state fully protected
California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis) - state fully protected

golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) - state fully protected
white-tailed kite (Elanus leucurus) - state fully protected
northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) - state fully protected

I have also seen the Salmon running in the lake! Once entire parts of the lake were splashing with them a couple of years ago!

The report from 1976 mentioned that the invertebrates of the Oso Flaco Lake area are among the least studied organisms of the area.

So, before allowing developers to change the area forever, let us instead conserve it AS IS, and study it further.

Kara said:
"The California Coastal Commission hearing on the draft PWP/EIR is March 18, 2021, and it will be historic. Don’t miss it – for more details, visit:

check out this SLO Tribune article, hot off the press:"

Thanks so much for helping save this international treasure,

Leif Behrmann

P.S. Again...

Power Point -

Sample Letter -

Posted on February 27, 2021 06:53 PM by leafybye leafybye | 31 observations | 19 comments | Leave a comment