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Heavy machinery, maintenance raising concerns for ecology of Coastal Bend beaches

Videos on social media show large machinery scraping drive lanes on Port Aransas beaches, causing some to believe the maintenance is going too far.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A couple of videos that surfaced on social media recently have raised concerns for some about heavy machinery working on our Coastal Bend beaches.

In one clip, residents can see a machine scooping water from the shoreline. In another, you can see the one of the large machines scraping the sand along a beach road in Port Aransas.

Some like Morgan Faulkner, an avid surfer and Port Aransas resident, believe our beaches' natural processes should not be interrupted with man-made equipment. He believes recent beach maintenance, including the scraping of the sand along beach roads, is excessive.

"I don't think anyone wants to see a manicured sandbox when they come to the beach," Faulkner said. "They want to enjoy nature in its finest form."

According to Faulkner, the constant sand scraping and packing by machinery has caused the roads to become the lowest point on the beach.

"The drive lane fills up with water now when it does rain because they have eliminated that natural slope from the dune line to the water's edge," Faulkner said.

Scott Cross, Director of Coastal Parks for Nueces County, said the ongoing maintenance on beaches has been done in this fashion for more than 10 years with permits they must obtain under the Texas Open Beaches Act.

"In order to maintain reasonable access to people, you are going to have to do something," Cross said. "But it doesn't do anything to impact the biological function of the beach at all."

Cross said there are natural beaches in the Coastal Bend, but a majority of them considered anthropogenic beaches, meaning they are heavily used by people and require maintenance.

"Compare that to a section of the beach that runs south into Kleberg County," Cross said. "We don't do much maintenance out there. For one, I'm not permitted to do it out there, and for two we try to maintain it more as a natural beach."

Cross said beach maintenance is regulated and they must comply with multiple agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Texas Open Beaches Act, and the General Land Office.

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