Fences and "No Trespassing" signs mark what is likely the final days of one of Texas’ most iconic fishing spots.
The state officially closed Rollover Pass on the Bolivar Peninsula at the end of September. The Texas General Land Office awarded a $7.3 million contract for a project to fill in the pass, which connects the waters of the Gulf with the Bay system.
GLO officials said the plan now is to build park on the space and eventually construct a fishing pier.
“I taught my kids how to fish there and my grandkids, and my great-grand-daughter; that's three generations,” Pam Bancroft said. “You can't bring that back, the emotional side. The financial side is, I lose my job.”
Bancroft said small businesses like the bait shop where she works will struggle with the closing of the pass and the loss of revenue generated by fisherman. Since the '50s, families have flocked to Rollover to enjoy prime fishing without the expense of charters or buying a boat.
“I've been fishing here since I was a kid and I don't know what I'm going to do now that I'm an old man. It's so convenient,” Nadie Greer said.
Ted Vega led the legal charge to stop the state from filling in the pass. He's still asking the courts for a restraining order and appealing other court rulings that allowed this work to move forward. Vega was arrested for trespassing after fences went up and protesters were repeatedly given warnings to leave the area.
The Galveston County Sheriff’s Office now provides 24-hour security around the area.
“It's important that we protect this pass,” Vega said. “Rollover Pass has been enjoyed by the people of Texas and other states for 64 years.”
The GLO Office has been working on closing the pass since the legislature authorized the move in 2009. The GLO claims it costs more than $700,000 a year to dredge sand build-up in the intercoastal caused by the pass and redeposit sediment.
The GLO also claims the pass leads to greater beach erosion and exacerbates the damage caused by storms.
“It just breaks my heart and, not just for me, but our community,” said Pamela Adams, who lived near the Pass for 16 years. “My whole life down here, as I knew it, I'm not able to do the things I used to do.”
Bancroft said the closure of the pass is forcing her to consider leaving the area altogether.
“I'm not giving Galveston County my tax money, they're not giving us anything. They took it,” she said.
The contract awarded by the GLO calls for the work to fill in Rollover Pass to be complete by April 2020.