Sierra Club asks TPWD to delay vote on SpaceX land swap at Boca Chica

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The tracts in green show the land that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would provide to SpaceX in proposed land swap. The land in orange is Boca Chica State Park. (Courtesy: TPWD)

The Sierra Club is urging the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to delay a vote Thursday on a proposed land swap SpaceX has requested involving its Starbase production and testing complex at Boca Chica.

The company wants 43 acres of Boca Chica State Park to “expand its operational footprint around its launch facilities” in exchange for giving TPWD 477 acres SpaceX owns near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. TPWD has recommended approving the swap internally, and a resolution approving the land transfer is on the agenda for TPWD’s meeting in Austin tomorrow.

The resolution says the transfer would “provide increased public recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, water recreation, and wildlife viewing, and allow for greater conservation of sensitive habitats for wintering and migratory birds.”

The tracts in yellow show the land SpaceX would provide the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in a proposed land swap. (Courtesy: TPWD)

The Sierra Club is urging TPWD to delay the vote, Conservation Director Cyrus Reed citing in a letter what he characterized as a “rushed and non-inclusive process” leading up to the vote, preceded by a public comment period ending today at 5 p.m.

“We have serious concerns about the proposed transfer, and we don’t believe TPWD followed code in the way it provided the public with notice about this controversial proposal,” he said. “The agency also, as far as we know, failed to provide public notice in Spanish and in Spanish-language news outlets. This is an important decision involving state lands, and the public deserves the right to know and provide input before a decision is rushed through on behalf of a private developer like SpaceX.”

Brownsville field organizer Emma Guevara said TPWD did not engage the community regarding the proposed swap and that “we were all blindsided.”

“With the rushed public notices, and that these were not available in Spanish, we suspect the agency wants to speed this along,” she said. “We know that TPWD can include the community in decisions when it wants to — it did this with oyster harvesting — so we urge it to delay the meeting and truly provide the people with a chance to participate and respond.”

Public feedback on the proposed transfer can be sent via email until 5 p.m. today to Trey Vick, TPWD project manager, at [email protected], or through TPWD’s website.