Opinion » Letters

Keep Oso Flaco special


Please help to save Oso Flaco Lake from being developed into a campground and staging area for OHVs (off-highway vehicles, aka dune buggies)! This is in State Parks' Oceano Dunes District's plans for this area.

I've been making audio recordings of bird sounds at Oso Flaco Lake since 1995. Last summer I created a CD album, Bird Sounds of Oso Flaco Lake. Needless to say, this would not have been possible if this area had been a staging area for OHVs with access to the dunes. I recall hearing the dune buggies far in the distance during my recording sessions, but only the low-frequency sounds reached my microphones; they're fairly easy to edit out with a high-pass filter. When vehicles are close, the noise includes all the frequencies, overlapping with the birdcalls and songs, making it impossible to filter out. Too bad for me, but even worse for the birds; many species will likely be driven away by the noise pollution that will be introduced to this quiet birding hot spot.

Clinton Francis, an assistant professor in biological sciences at Cal Poly, spoke to the Morro Coast Audubon Society a couple of years ago about the effects of sound on bird species. He discussed a study in which a forested area was set up with a virtual highway by placing loud speakers along a path, playing traffic noise. The area was surveyed before, during, and after, and, of course, some species were driven away by the noise. Other studies indicated that the frequency of the sound determined which birds left the area. If Oso Flaco Lake is developed, it is likely that the species that remain would be the typical urban birds that tolerate noise. Please keep Oso Flaco Lake special!

I dropped off some of my CDs (for free!) at Café Andreini in Arroyo Grande, Nan's Pre-Owned Books in Grover Beach, and Peet's Coffee and Phoenix Books in San Luis Obispo. I did this to raise awareness of this issue and so you could listen to the birds. Information about how to voice your opinion about this issue is included with the CDs.

Thomas G. Graves


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