Sea Turtles and SpaceX must share Boca Chica Beach!
Last week, the first Texas nests of the endangered Kemp's ridley sea turtles were found on South Padre Island beaches. One of those nests was located at Boca Chica Beach, the proposed site of rocket launches by the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation or SpaceX.
Earth Day 2013 is an excellent opportunity for SpaceX to pledge that it will avoid the South Texas beaches for several months each year when sea turtles are migrating to the nesting beaches to lay eggs and then until it is certain that hatchlings from undiscovered nests have emerged.
Local businessmen as well as state officials are excited by t he possibility of SpaceX helping the economy and bringing tourists to South Texas.
"The sea turtles were there first and that presence must be respected," said Carole Allen, Gulf of Mexico Director for the Sea Turtle Restoration Project. "The Endangered Species Act assures them a place to nest and SpaceX is responsible for protecting them."
There is also concern for other endangered species including the piping plover, northern aplomado falcon, jaguarundi and ocelot. A project leader for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who oversees the area describes it as a "narrow string of more than 100 separate tracks with 5700 refuge acres within three miles of the proposed launch site."
"The FAA has released a draft environmental impact statement and everyone concerned with endangered species needs to speak up," Allen said. "We have until June 3 to make these critical comments."
The draft may be read at <http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ast/environmental/nepa_docs/review/documents_progress/spacex_texas_launch_site_environmental_impact_statement/> . Comments or questions regarding the Draft EIS can be submitted to Ms. Stacey M. Zee, FAA Environmental Specialist, SpaceX EIS c/o Cardno TEC Inc., 275 West Street, Suite 110, Annapolis, MD 21401. Comments may also be submitted via email to email@example.com or by fax to (410) 990-0455.