Controversies continue over the use of Oceano Dunes park

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An ATV rider enjoys some sand racing at Oceano Dunes. This year, six people have died at the park with many others wounded. Photo credit: Pablo Peña

The Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area, outside of the quiet beach town of Oceano, has been making headlines this summer following six deaths at the park this year.

But the park remains very popular among the all-terrain vehicle crowd that enjoys weekend camping and driving. It’s the last beach on the California coast that allows motor vehicles.

For years, local residents have been complaining that the park creates noise and pollution. Others worry about the sensitive ecology of the dunes and the wildlife that lives there.

The string of deaths at the park has also brought its use into question with authorities, leaving everyone to ask who – or what – deserves greater access to the beach.