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Good News and Bad on the Environmental Front

Dear sandy feet,
I know that the sea turtle nesting season is winding down for this year. Were any nests found locally? - J.S.

Several government agencies and environmental organizations will continue to patrol local beaches through mid-July in an on-going effort to locate, study, and protect nesting Kemp's ridley turtles and sea turtle nests.

This comes from Donna Shaver at the National Park Service by way of Mike Ellis, editor of the North Padre Island Moon:

   U.S. Geological Survey Biological Technician Toni Torres found her fourth
sea turtle nest for the Texas coast this year on June 30, at 1:00 p.m. Toni
was conducting a turtle patrol on Boca Chica Beach when she found Kemp's
ridley tracks and she thinks that the mother turtle likely slipped back into
the water only minutes earlier. This was the eighth Kemp's ridley nest and
tenth sea turtle nest for the Texas coast this year. We are very proud of
Toni because of her great results this year. She is the only patroller that
has found a sea turtle nest on South Padre Island and Boca Chica Beach during
2001 and is the only patroller that has ever found four sea turtle nests on
the Texas coast in one year.

The eggs from all four nests were transferred to a protective screened area on Boca Chica Beach. Hatchlings from these nests will be released from Boca Chica some time in August.

Dear sandy feet,

I read in the paper that the Navy is going to transfer the bombing tests from Vieques, Puerto Rico to Padre Island. Can this possibly be correct? - H.S.

As I understand it, that idea has indeed been proposed and an environmental impact study has been ordered. While the area being discussed is actually about 100 miles north of here, the media's inability to distinguish between the north and south ends of the Island would ensure that South Padre Island would heretofore be known as "the place where they bomb things."

Some folks up round Corpus Christi seem to think this is a good idea, suggesting that the move would pump big bucks into the local economy while protecting Texas' other military installations from being phased out.

South Padre Island's esteemed mayor Ed and other city officials have said they will oppose the plan, but I can't help but wonder if they have really thought this thing through. I mean, just think of the marketing possibilities: "Get Bombed on Padre!" (ads aimed at spring breakers);
"Fireworks: not just for Fridays any more" (the summer crowd); and "South Texas' Exploding Economy translates into more and bigger discounts!" (for Winter Texans)

But really, would this be such a bad thing, using South Texas for target practice? I did a little research on what has been going on in Vieques and yes, it appears that it really WOULD be a bad thing. The bomb tests in Vieques are associated with a host of environmental and health problems, and the Navy has reneged on a bunch of agreements it made with Puerto Rico to respect the local environment and economy and reinvest in its development. Furthermore, the base did not employ any local workers and at least one columnist suggested that the beach-storming techniques being practiced there are obsolete by modern warfare standards.

My take on this? Kenedy County may indeed be "sparsely inhabited" -- by humans. But it is home to endangered birds, sea turtles and other flora and fauna found no where else on the planet. If we allow the Navy to come in and start dropping bombs on our beaches, it will prove that we do not deserve the beautiful habitat with which we have been entrusted.

Sandy, do you know of any hiking clubs, trails, or organizations in, or
around the island area. I appreciate any ideas, thanks - J.L.

My research on this one didn't turn up anything, but it sounds like a fine idea. If anyone out there knows of such a club, or is interested in organizing one, drop by SPIonline and post a message on the forum. It is a great place to get questions answered and find other locals who share your interests.

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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