The central coast is home to Montana de Oro State Park, abundant with trails, eucalyptus trees, and ocean wildlife. There you can admire the ocean waves splintering on sea caves and creating luminous rainbows reflecting off the mist. Children exercise their curiosity in tide pools that support sea anemones, crabs, snails and barnacles.
Although its name translates to Mountain of Gold due to the vast amounts of yellow flowers blanketing the hills, there’s something else of great value hidden in this park. Miguelito Shale is the predominant rock in MDO, formed 5 to 6 million years ago. This mudstone was previously ancient seafloor, but is now composed of plankton, dirt, microorganisms, and exoskeletons when they drifted to the bottom of the sea, mixing with silt and sand. The compression of these organisms creates shale oil, which is very valuable to oil companies.
To retrieve this oil, companies will drill down as far as two miles and use high-pressured water to release the oil from the fragmented shale. Oil fracking is controversial due to its excessive use of natural resources, the risk of triggering earthquakes and causing unknown effects on water contamination.
Local environmentalists and leaders have made strong opposition to oil fracking and drilling on the central coast. The city of San Luis Obispo made a climate action plan to be fossil fuel-free by 2035. However, the Bureau of Land Management is planning on opening 1,222 acres of federally-owned mineral estate within Montana de Oro State Park.
Oil fracking increases the potential for oil spills, which can harm surrounding vegetation, soil and ocean wildlife. Many sea stars, abalone, and sea otters are already endangered in MDO. As the November 2020 general elections inch closer, ask local and federal elected leaders how they will stop these polluting impacts on the central coast.
At MDO, you can still enjoy the beautiful view of the marine terrace, while most others were leveled to develop houses. You can still find Nuttall’s milkvetch and locoweed that lines the Bluffs Trail. Next time you spot a sea otter by the glistening tide pools of Coralina Cove, remember that conservation is necessary for future generations to enjoy the same view. CCSPA is passionate about ensuring the conservation, recreation, and education legacy of California State Parks to remain for generations.
“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”Robert Swan
Photo Courtesy of docentjoyce on Flickr.