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Port A beach crosses raise environmental concerns

Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-29 23:49:34-05

PORT ARANSAS, TEXAS — There’s a new addition to the beach in Port Aransas which has caused some concern for residents and environmentalists.

Three wooden crosses appeared overnight in the middle of December. People in Port Aransas say it’s not the symbolism of the crosses that have them concerned, it’s that these are protected dunes.

The crosses went up under the cover of darkness December 18th, their construction streamed live on facebook.

“Doing what these folks evidently did, putting a structure into the critical dune line and then cementing it in, that’s a big no-no,” said Nieces County Coastal Parks Director Scott Cross.

The dunes are covered by the Dune Protection Act under the Texas Natural Resource Code giving the Texas General Land Office jurisdiction.

“Any damage to the dune or dune vegetation is a violation of the Dune Protection Act without explicit permission from the General Land Office, who delegates that authority to the city,” said Port Aransas Building Manager Rick Adams.

Under the Dune Protection Act, any kind of construction in the dunes is a violation without the GLO’s consent.

“We don’t want to encourage this,” said Cross, who says the crosses aren’t just potentially bad for the dunes, they could also have an adverse effect on beach wildlife.

“It doesn’t always happen, but it has an ability for these raptors to have a place to perch and prey on our shoreline birds,” said Cross.

There’s also the question of whose land it is. In this case, the dune line is part of the Palmilla Beach Resort.

“When you get up there, even though the dunes are protected under the Dune Protection Act, you’re on private property,” said Cross.

The people who built the crosses here didn’t have permission from the GLO or from Palmilla Beach. That leaves the resort to foot the bill to remove them.

“The landowner is going to remove them himself, that’s going to be the end of it with us,” said Adams.

KRIS Communications spoke with Palmilla Beach’s general manager, who said the crosses will be coming to to comply with GLO and City of Port Aransas regulations. He added the resort will not be seeking any legal remedy against the people who put them here.

KRIS Communications also tried contacting the group who built the crosses, but have not received a response.