Feds ban recreational vehicles on Boca Chica beach

    (Image Source: MGN Online)

    Boca Chica beach and the immediate area is now closed to recreational vehicles, the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge announced Tuesday.

    The Boca Chica area, including dunes, tidal flats and beach, will be closed to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road vehicles (ORVs) effective immediately.

    The new regulations approved by national, state and county agencies comes after an increased wildlife mortality and habitat degradation caused by the vehicles, according to the news release. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says several threatened and endangered species, as well as plant communities, depend on the area for survival.

    Officials say an additional justification for the changes is the need to improve vehicle/visitor management in the Boca Chica area in anticipation of Space-X launches, scheduled to begin in 2019.

    The following changes are also expected:

    • ATV and ORV users will be required to find alternative sites to operate off-road vehicles.
    • Access for wade fishing and kayaking in South Bay will be accessible only from the south Jetty of the Brownsville Navigation District ship channel.
    • Other routes previously used by the public will no longer be allowed, particularly behind the dunes and through the wash over sites (gaps between the dunes), as these areas are the most highly productive nesting sites used annually by migratory birds.

    State and federal law enforcement officials say they will strictly enforce the new regulations, adding that violators will be subject to fine and equipment forfeiture.

    For more information regarding the changes, contact 956-784-7521.

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