A section of the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Wildlife Refuge -- which is normally off limits -- opened Friday for a nature hike.
The wildlife preserve is just south of the popular Oceano Dunes, but its only access is via the beach, which is miles away.
This pristine stretch encompasses nearly 20,000 acres and is home to 144 species of plants and animals, including rabbits, feral pigs, and the occasional black bear and mountain lion.
Yellow poppies, not the ubiquitous orange variety, and lupine dot the crude sand trails that run for miles along the mountain dunes.
It is a liquid landscape that is in perpetual motion, in part, because of constant shifting winds which can gust up to 40 mph and higher.
However, an invasive grass known as "veldt" is the preserve's biggest threat -- not gale force winds.
Stewards of the refuge are working on a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, or CCP, which is a 15 year plan for the area.
Public input is wanted.
If interested, contact the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes Center at (805) 343-2455.