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For Immediate Release, April 14, 2008

Contact: Andrew Orahoske, Center for Biological Diversity, (406) 529-7591

Settlement at Oceano Dunes a Win for Endangered Species:
Motorized Races Shut Down to Protect a
Natural Treasure on California’s Central Coast

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement in its lawsuit against the California Department of Parks and Recreation that requires the agency to rescind its multi-year approval of an off-road vehicle race and jet-ski competition at the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

Oceano Dunes are part of a biologically diverse coastal ecosystem on the central California coast that suffers abuse from off-road vehicles mismanaged by the Parks Department. During last October’s racing events, the department allowed thousands of dirt bikes and off-road vehicles to run rampant on the dunes while simultaneously giving scores of jet skis free reign over the water, all without any environmental review.

“The motorized circus at Oceano Dunes is a real disgrace. Continuing the onslaught of racing events would be a disaster for this fragile ecosystem. That’s no way to treat a natural treasure,” said Andrew Orahoske, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity.

Under the settlement, the department agreed to withdraw its multi-year approval for the event, and conduct a full analysis of environmental impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act prior to approving future race proposals.

“This spectacular place is essential habitat for many imperiled species, and provides a refuge for people to escape the madness and peacefully reflect on the natural world. State parks belong to all Californians, and the Parks Department should not be sacrificing these crown jewels to off-road vehicles,” said Orahoske.

Threatened and endangered species at Oceano Dunes include the Nipomo Mesa lupine, marsh sandwort, Gambel’s watercress, La Graciosa thistle, surf thistle, Pismo clarkia, beach spectacle pod, red-legged frog, steelhead trout, tidewater goby, western snowy plover, and California least tern.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 40,000 members dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and habitat.

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