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Oceano Dunes Restoration

A large transgressive dune system near Pismo Beach, CA where dune restoration efforts include revegetation as a means for foredune re-establishment.

The Oceano Dunes is part of a large transgressive dune system that extends up to 5 km inland and hosts a state park that has been managed for off-highway vehicle recreation since 1982, although vehicle activity has existed in the dunes for almost 90 years. As a result, foredunes have been largely obliterated and sand surfaces in vehicle use areas are highly emissive of dust-sized particles, causing frequent exceedances of state air quality standards.

In early summer 2018, the Oceano Dunes State Park and the San Luis Obispo Air Pollution Control District came to an agreement that established a five-year plan to improve air quality on the Nipomo Mesa.
In an effort to reduce dust emissions from the dunes, a foredune restoration strategy was developed in 2019. The restoration plan employed a nature-based approach using native foredune seeds and plants to initiate the development of a new foredune from a relatively flat sand sheet that was devoid of vegetation.

A nature-based foredune restoration strategy using five different treatments over a 20-ha site was implemented in February 2020. These results will inform an adaptive management process that could entail further modifications to enhance foredune development. Based on this experience, and with reference to other types of restoration projects, we refine existing criteria used to assess the performance of “dynamic” dune restoration efforts to include settings that involve revegetation (vs. devegetation) as a means for foredune re-establishment.

Project Partners: California Department of Parks and Recreation, University of California Santa Barbara
Department of Geography, Arizona State University School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, California State Parks, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, American Conservation Experience, California Conservation Corps

Project Status


Point of Contact

Dr. Ian Walker -

Project Website



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