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Oceano Dunes closure extension leaves campers frustrated

Oceano Dunes closure extension leaves campers frustrated
Posted at 9:45 AM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-01 12:45:20-04

The closure of the Oceano Dunes has been extended.

Camping at the dunes was set to open this week but campers are finding out that’s not the case.

In cancellation emails, Reserve California is blaming COVID-19 and now extending the closure through Oct. 18.

“What’s kind of irritating is they let everybody reserve and then they wait until the last week right before your reservation and then they cancel,” said Kirk Rutherford.

The long-time visitor had reservations for this Thursday but on Monday, he received an email saying they were canceled. He’s had two other reservations canceled since March.

“I don’t know why we can't reopen the SRVA,” Rutherford said.

Jose Reveles of Oxnard says the last-minute cancellation is an inconvenience.

“You use your vacation time or whatever time you have available,” he explained. “You're buying food. You're buying fuel. You're buying a bunch of stuff to plan for the weekend because you just don't do it from one day to another.”

Not far away, the North Beach and Oceano campgrounds reopened 167 sites a little over a week ago.

“And yet, Oceano Dunes is the one park where people can actually socially distance out, so it makes no sense that they've delayed it again,” said another long-time visitor, Ginger Schenk.

San Luis Obispo County is in the red COVID-19 tier, meaning campgrounds and outdoor recreation can open in some form.

“We're all very, very confused and angry,” Schenk said.

In July, the California Coastal Commission said the dunes would have to stay closed until the beginning of October to protect the nesting snowy plover.

Now that we’re almost to October, that closure has been extended.

“I just really feel that State Parks needs to communicate with the users of this park on when they're going to open, how they're going to open. It's not fair to give families three days notice on their camping,” Schenk added.

A Freedom Flag Rally was planned at the dunes for Oct.10 but the park will still be closed at that time.

Campers have been receiving full refunds after their reservations are canceled. KSBY reached out to State Parks for comment but have not yet heard back.