Man Cited for Sand Dune Violations at SPI
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND - A McAllen man is facing a hefty fine after he found himself stranded on South Padre Island.
David Pina said a family trip to the island turned out to be a costly mess.
He visited the beach through Access 6, across from Adventure Island Park. When it was time to head out, Pina realized it wouldn’t be a smooth ride home.
He saw Highway 100 nearby, so he decided to reach it by driving over the sand dunes.
“There’s no signs of any kind that says ‘No Trespassing’ or ‘No Driving’… We have never heard that it was illegal to drive through there,” he said.
Pina said he had to pay $385 to have his vehicle towed off the dunes.
Cameron County Parks Director Joe Vega said sand dunes are protected under state law. They are considered an extremely valuable natural resource for protection.
“Sand dunes are the first line of defense against hurricanes. The sand dunes are what protects the properties on the island, the infrastructure and the buildings,” he said. “If you drive on the sand dunes and you start disturbing the vegetation, then you don’t have the vegetation to stabilize them.”
CHANNEL 5 NEWS found a bright yellow sign warning about vehicles on dunes at the access’ entrance. We also found another sign warning of no motor vehicles past the barricade.
Pina has a Feb. 24 court date for the citation. He said it’ll cost him about $150.
Vega said they also discourage the public from walking on the dunes to avoid disturbing vegetation. He added towing company prices are something the county doesn’t control.
According to him, sand dunes run all along the island. He said some towards the north end are maintained naturally. Others, located closer to high rise hotels, are man-maintained to help protect those properties.
Vega said all-terrain vehicles are also prohibited. He said strong winds are another factor that depletes sand dunes over time.