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PINS hosting meetings asking for input on the future of the park

Residents attend PINS Open House to share opinions for beach management plan
Posted at 9:42 PM, Feb 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-22 23:20:14-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For years, conversations about Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) have been very emotional for people. The federal park means something different to everyone. Now officials at PINS are trying to colLect ideas from the public about the future of the park.

They are gathering opinions for a potential Beach Management Plan.

“We haven’t had one in the past and it’s time for one,” said Kelly Taylor, public information officer for the park.

PINS has been around since 1968 and has never had plans in place to address topics like sand management, hurricane recovery, marine debris, beach diving and managing and protecting the species that call the beach home.

Wednesday was the second of three open house meetings. The open house style is unique. Guests can walk around and visit different posters with information on each subject and a PINS employee standing by to listen and answer questions. On the posters are suggestions or ideas for each, just to get the conversation started, they are not the leading options as some may think.

“I think that this format is a little bit different than what people are accustom to, but it’s a way that we are getting the information we need," said Taylor.

From the first meeting on Tuesday, Taylor said it was positive in the sense, PINS employees were able to hear from many people.

The hottest topics involved driving on the beach and the Sea Turtle Science and Recovery program.

Some suggestions for beach driving were creating a road for thru traffic for the first five miles to bypass crowds. Another idea was creating vehicle free areas.

Several people were against any prohibition of driving on the beach.

“In all my life and I’m 73 years old, in my life when you take the first step then they take the second step. Next thing you know they’re going to be shutting the whole beach down,” Steve Sutton said, a Corpus Christi resident.

Many believe restricting driving on the beach goes back to trying to protect animals like sea turtles when they nest on the beach from April to July.

“There hasn’t been a turtle ran over in over a decade," Alberto Zertuche, another Corpus Christi resident. "But I know how many turtle sightings I’ve reported. I know how many other fishermen reported hundreds of turtles and did the right thing, use their vehicle to block them off.”

Sutton and Zertuche are avid PINS goers who want things to stay the same.

Some parts of the beach would be hard to access.

They said their main problem is the lack of resources PINS has.

“We’re down beach, we’re asking for help, we can’t even get a hold of anybody when there’s people down there that are really in need of help," Zertuche said. "Oh, you need to call here, you need to call there, six hours later we’re still on the phone.”

Sutton spoke about a time his car broke down, far down the beach.

"Finally, a park service came by and she had to use her satellite phone to talk to the base," said Sutton. "And you know what their answer was? We can't help you. you can call the state police to come get you. You know, come on."

Sutton added he is heading to PINS on Saturday with his Jeep club to clean up debris on the beach, claiming PINS personnel won't do that.

"That’s what they ought to be concentrating on instead of keeping us people who are helping keep the place clean, instead of kicking us out of there.”

PINS has their last open house on Thursday evening at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Taylor said that locationw as chosen because through a contractor they have used in the past. Data collected indicated the most people that travel to PINS come from Nueces and Bexar County.

People are encouraged and can still send in their ideas until March 14 either in person, online or by mail.

PINS is using a contractor to collect and sort through all the submissions to give them in a report. Taylor said after that, they will consult with the regional and Washington D.C. offices to see if a Beach Management Plan is needed.

If a plan moves forward, Taylor said it will be years before anything is set in stone. No immediate changes will come to PINS in this regard.

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