California Beach Campsite Bans Visitors Due to Excessive 'Human Waste'

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Overnight camping at a beach along California's central coast is prohibited due to excess “human waste,” officials said this week.

The California Coastal Commission announced Thursday that overnight camping and campfires will be banned on San Carpoforo Beach for the next two years.

Beachgoers walk along the shoreline as a campfire burns at San Carpoforo Creek Beach on California Highway 1 near Ragged Point on Saturday, May 1, 2021 in Big Sur, California.

Beachgoers walk along the shoreline as a campfire burns at San Carpoforo Creek Beach on California Highway 1 near Ragged Point on Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Big Sur, California. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

San Carpoforo, or “San Carpo”, is located off Highway 1 in northern San Luis Obispo County, about a four-hour drive south of San Francisco. It’s the only free beach camping in the Big Sur area – a little-known fact until recently.

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The Commission detailed the deterioration in beach quality in a recently made available report. The report notes that more visitors frequented the campsite once word spread that it was free. The U.S. Forest Service's lack of resources to monitor the site and lack of trash cans, toilets and fire pits led to increased levels of trash and debris, the report said.

“The beach has no restrooms, very limited parking, no drinking water, and no trash cans or collection,” the Commission wrote in the staff report.

The area is home to a number of endangered animals, such as the snowy plover, which have been negatively affected by deteriorating beach conditions.

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While the ban is in effect, the U.S. Forest Service will develop a “reset” plan and find a way to allow camping in the future. Day use of the beach is still available to visitors.

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