Boca Chica Beach at the southernmost tip of Texas’ Rio Grande Valley is neighbor to the launch site for SpaceX, Tesla founder Elon Musk’s private space exploration company. SpaceX intends to send its rockets to Mars one day. In the mean time though, it has challenges closer to home.
One of those challenges comes from Brownsville residents who say SpaceX not only pollutes the area because of the several explosions during rocket tests, but it also limits people’s access to local public beaches many of them use for fishing and recreation.
Gus Bova explored the clash between SpaceX and Brownsville locals in his latest story for the Texas Observer, “The Final Frontera. In it, Bova explains how residents have had significantly reduced access just in the past year because of SpaceX activities that closed down the road leading to the shore, often on short notice.
“Boca Chica Beach is really a beach for locals primarily from Brownsville,” Bova told Texas Standard. “It has traditionally, for decades, been open 24/7, free of charge. People can come and fish if they wanted, they could come and camp out for days if they wanted.”
Boca Chica is definitely a place for locals. It doesn’t get the same tourist draw like nearby South Padre Island, for example.
“It was this type of the beach where local families who didn’t want all the hustle and bustle of the island, who didn’t want to pay for entry to the park on the island who didn’t want all the condos, etc. – this was a real beach for locals and the community,” Bova said.
Now, he says its still a destination for locals, but not as often as it used to be because of SpaceX-related road closures.
Listen to more about Boca Chica Beach and SpaceX in an interview featured in the audio player above.