, Port Arthur, Texas

Top Stories

June 17, 2013

Land office attempting to close Rollover

GILCHRIST — The days of dropping a line and hooking a big flounder, pulling it from the teeming waters of Rollover Pass may soon be a thing of the past.

The Texas General Land Office applied for a permit to close the Pass after Hurricane Ike in 2008 because of the heavy erosion sustained by surrounding beaches and other ongoing issues.

However, after the permit’s approval, two groups emmerged crying foul at the actions of the GLO, the Gulf Coast Rod, Reel and Gun Club and the Gilchrist Community Association, bringing forward a lawsuit in an attempt to save the favored fishing grounds.

The suit brought against Commisioner of the GLO Jerry Patterson, the GLO and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers states that the GLO has no authority to take action against the property currently owned by the GCRRGC. It alleges the GLO lied to obtain the permit necessary for the closure and will violate the Americans With Disabilities Act by closing the Pass, on grounds that it would eliminate the easily accessible location without guaranteeing the creation of an equally reachable replacement.

“The accessibility it provides is unmatched,” Ted Vega, president of the Gilchrist Community Association said. “They (those with disabilities) only have to get out of their car and enjoy the fishing.”

Vega expressed frustration at what he feels is a failure of cooperation from the state, leaving him feeling as though they only want to “talk at” and not “with” those concerned with the Pass’ future.

“There were five alternatives, (and) they’ve made no attempts to address that,” Vega said, adding that he wants to work with the state using technology available today that may not have been in the past.

The GLO has countered the claims that closing the Pass could negatively impact fisherman by creating the “Rollover Pass Recreation Amenities Plan” — a proposal to build a $6 million, 1,000-foot public T-headed fishing pier using Americans with Disablities Act Accessibility guidlines.

This plan also includes the possibility of a boat ramp and several attached buildings that can be used as bait shops, food stands or bathrooms, offsetting the economic impact the area would experience and improving the location, according to a proposal released by the GLO in December 2011.

Those who visit the Pass say they don’t want to see any changes. They are fond of the cut and say a pier just won’t do, and they don’t trust that the state will hold up their end of the bargain.

Just ask Jim Linder, a resident of High Island who moved about nine years ago from Austin.

“It’s crazy (the closure). There is no justification and it’ll deprive a lot of people of a unique fishing opportunity” Linder said. Linder continued by saying the dredging that the state cites as being so costly will occur regardless. “They dredge the entire stretch constantly.”

Fisherman William Alford, of Houston, echoed Linder’s concerns.

He was visiting the Pass for the first time in 25 to 30 years but used to come regularly with family. He said that a pier seemed like an interesting offer from the state but also had reservations as to whether it would truly be built.

“You don’t have anything engraved in stone,” Alford said. “They don’t have to do what they say they will.”

Alton Thorpe, of Conroe, hoped the pass will stay open for future fishing trips, eagerly showing off a large  redfish he caught from the Pass just the day before.

“I’ve been coming here my whole life,” Thorpe said. And it’s this lifestyle of fishing that many fear will be lost if the Pass is closed.

But the problems with Rollover have been known almost from the very beginning, according to Jim Suydam, press secretary for the GLO, and though he acknowledges the Pass has substantial history, he said at this point it’s about the future of the beach and bay.

“The erosion began as they were doing the initial dredge job,” Suydam said. “It sucks the very precious beach sand and dumps it right into the Intracoastal Waterway.”

A study in 1989 identified nearly 290,000 cubic yards of sand being deposited into the waterway — that’s the equivalency of 29,000 dump trucks. This reportedly leads the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to dredge the channel every nine months at a price tag of nearly $1 million each time.

The sediment deposits aren’t the only concern for the the Pass. East Bay’s oyster reefs and estuary system have suffered due to saltwater saturating the bay, Suydam said.

But James Blackburn Jr., lawyer for the plaintiffs, doesn’t agree. According to Blackburn, Rollover was initially created to relieve problems associated with East Bay. He expressed great concern for the effects a drainage canal from Jefferson County could have on the ecosystem once the Pass is closed.

Drainage District 6 in Jefferson County created the Needmore Diversion to channel water into the bay during times of heavy rain. Blackburn says he isn’t aware that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers ever did the proper studies to register the impact of that amount of freshwater streaming into the bay.

He’s accused Jerry Patterson and the GLO of being bullies bent on closing the Pass without giving any other options true consideration.

“It’s a nasty situation. I think it should be offensive to anyone,” Blackburn said. “We’d simply like to see Rollover Pass restored.”

But according to Suydam, the pending litigation will simply reduce funds available to improve the already highly visited site.

“We know it’s popular,” Suydam said. “No one wants to be the guy to shut down the party.”


Twitter: @cedgerton13


Text Only
Top Stories
  • rain total noon copy.jpg Map shows rainfall totals through noon

    The National Weather Service in Lake Charles is continuing the flash flood watch for the entire region this afternoon, but it could be removed later today for east Texas and central Louisiana. Heavy rains today have produced 5-10 inches of rain across southeast Texas, 3-6 inches across southwest and south central Louisiana, and 1-3 inches in east Texas and central Louisiana.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ave H1.jpg Heavy rains flood Southeast Texas

    July 18, 2014 5 Photos

  • Switzerland Obit Wint_Edge.jpg Blues legend Johnny Winter dies at 70

    Texas blues legend Johnny Winter, known for his lightning-fast blues guitar riffs, his striking long white hair and his collaborations with the likes of Jimi Hendrix and childhood hero Muddy Waters, has died. He was 70.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Free Agency LeBron Ba_Cowl.jpg LeBron James returning to Cavaliers

    LeBron James is going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
    James told Sports Illustrated Friday that he’s decided to go home. It’s a move that would have seemed unfathomable four years ago, after the venomous fallout that followed his decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seattle Campus Shooti_Edge.jpg 'Heroes’ helped stop gunman at university

    When a lone gunman armed with a shotgun at a small university stopped firing at students to reload, another student pepper-sprayed him and subdued him with the help of others and prevented more deaths, police said.
    “There are a number of heroes in this,” Assistant Police Chief Paul McDonagh said. “The people around him (the gunman) stepped up.”

    June 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • FireHFONLINE.jpg Hamshire-Fannett Elem badly burned

    With smoke still hanging in the air and water blasting hot spots in the smoldering ruins of Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School, the administration and parents of hundreds students are left wondering what’s next.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 86th Academy Awards -_Edge.jpg ’12 Years a Slave’ rises up at Academy Awards

    Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.
    Steve McQueen’s slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry’s virtual blindness to slavery, instead creating whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner “Gone With the Wind.” “12 Years a Slave” is the first best-picture winner directed by a black filmmaker.

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Shirley Temple_Edge.jpg Shirley Temple, iconic child star, dies at 85

    Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, has died, according to publicist Cheryl Kagan. She was 85.

    February 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Winter.jpg Freezing rain, sleet Thursday into Friday

    Wicked winter weather is heading to Southeast Texas Thursday night into Friday.
    An arctic cold front will be passing through bringing along with it much colder and windier conditions, according to a National Weather Service press release.

    January 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oscar Nominations_Cowl.jpg ‘Hustle,’ ’Gravity’ lead Oscar nominations

    The Academy Awards appear to be the three-horse race many expected it would be, with “Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” all receiving a heap of nominations. All were among the nine films nominated for best picture. The other nominees are “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Philomena.”

    January 16, 2014 1 Photo

Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Sports Tweets