The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has postponed a decision on a potential land swap deal with SpaceX.
SpaceX has been seeking 43 acres of Boca Chica State Park land to expand its Starship launch site. In return, the company proposed offering the state 477 acres near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, approximately 10 miles (16km) northwest of the launch pad.
According to a report from the Houston Chronicle, the decision to delay came after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department received an overwhelming number of public comments on the proposal – over 1,300, with the majority opposing the swap. Notable critics include Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr., and the Sierra Club. They have expressed concerns about the potential environmental impact on the sensitive habitats of Boca Chica, which support a variety of wildlife, including endangered species and migratory birds.
The public’s apprehension is rooted in SpaceX’s past activities. The first launch attempt of the Starship in April 2023 caused some environmental damage, with debris affecting the surrounding area. Although SpaceX has made improvements to the launch site infrastructure to mitigate these impacts, environmental groups and local communities are still voicing their concerns.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department argues that the land swap could offer new recreational opportunities and allow for better conservation of the area’s diverse habitats. The decision to delay has been attributed to the desire for greater transparency and public involvement in the process.
The discussion is now scheduled for the March 27 work session and the March 28 commission meeting.