Reduced beach access is part of battle between South Texas community and SpaceX

Boca Chica Beach, at the southern end of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, neighbors the launch site of SpaceX, the private space exploration company of Tesla founder Elon Musk. SpaceX intends to one day send its rockets to Mars. In the meantime, however, he has challenges closer to home.

One such challenge comes from residents of Brownsville who say SpaceX not only pollutes the area from multiple explosions during rocket testing, but also limits people’s access to local public beaches that many them use for fishing and recreation.

Gus Bova explored the clash between SpaceX and the residents of Brownsville in his latest story for the Texas Observer, “The Final Frontera. In it, Bova explains how residents have had dramatically reduced access over the past year due to the SpaceX activities that shut down the road to shore, often on short notice.

“Boca Chica Beach is really a beach for people primarily from Brownsville,” Bova told the Texas Standard. “For decades, it has traditionally been open 24/7, free of charge. People can come and fish if they want, they can come and camp for days if they want.

Boca Chica is definitely a place for locals. It doesn’t get the same tourist appeal as neighboring South Padre Island, for example.

“It was that type of beach where local families who didn’t want all the hustle and bustle of the island, who didn’t want to pay admission to the island park who didn’t want all the condos, etc. – it was a real beach for the locals and the community,” Bova said.

Now, he says, it’s still a destination for locals, but not as often as it used to because of SpaceX-related road closures.

Hear more about Boca Chica Beach and SpaceX in an interview featured in the audio player above.

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