Keep Rollover Pass Open

By Wayne Stupka and Ted Vega
Recently, in a gross example of government overreaching in violation of private property rights, the General Land Office of the State of Texas went to the Corps of Engineers and applied for and received a permit to close Rollover Pass. Not only do they not own the land in question, they did not ask the owner of the land – the Beaumont Rod, Reel and Gun Club – – if they could. They just did it.

If this wasn’t bad enough, they are seeking to remove the best public access fishing location on the Upper Texas Coast. It is a high quality recreational resource available to handicapped and less wealthy fishermen and women of the coast – persons who cannot afford boats and motors. Furthermore the grounds on which they are overreaching do not hold up. It is a land grab, pure and simple.

Now, how would you feel if the government came to you and told you that they had applied for a permit to take action that would destroy your property? How many of you citizens out there would stand still for an arrogant, oppressive government agency telling you what they were going to do with your private property?

And now because the General Land Office has no power of condemnation, the GLO is trying to force Galveston County to do their dirty work for them by asking – or perhaps coercing – the County into condemning our property on their behalf. To date, Galveston County has not acted, but let’s be clear. It will be a “gut check” on whether the members of Commissioners Court are really concerned about overreaching government or not. This is an issue that puts the rhetoric of support for private property rights to the test.

So why are we closing the Pass?
First, we are always told it is because of erosion. Unfortunately, the big erosion problem on the Upper Texas coast is that the source of sand for all of our beaches is not what it used to be. Rollover Pass is a small symptom of the larger disease of loss of sand supply due to dams up the Mississippi River. Shutting Rollover Pass is not going to solve the erosion problem on Bolivar or anywhere else. Severe storms such as Ike cause ten to a hundred times more erosion in one day across a hundred miles of beach than does Rollover Pass in a decade. If the jetties were constructed that were part of the original plan, the erosion issue – such as it is – would go away.

Second, we are told that the problem is siltation of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway – that sediment comes through the Pass and is deposited in the canal and causes increased maintenance dredging costs. However, consider this. A diversion was recently constructed (and permitted by the Corps and the GLO) to allow the diversion of Taylor’s Bayou in Jefferson County southward into the GIWW about fifteen miles in from the easternmost point of East Bay. That diversion will dump incredibly large amounts of sediment into the GIWW – a much larger amount than is contributed by Rollover Pass. So if increased dredging were really a concern, that project would never have been allowed. Yet it was with full support by the very entities that are trying to shut down the Pass.

Third, we are told that the GLO wishes to restore East Bay from an ecological perspective. To us, that sounded like a decent reason. But once again, this issue must be viewed in a cumulative context. The Taylor Bayou diversion mentioned above will divert millions and even billions of gallons of floodwaters into the GIWW and East Bay. That diversion is a new event. If Rollover Pass is closed, the ecology of East Bay will be dominated by freshwater inflow and will cease to function as a salt water fishery for long periods of time.

The Taylor Bayou diversion is a much bigger threat than Rollover Pass. However, if the Pass is left open, the freshwater domination of the Taylor Bayou diversion would be moderated by an exchange with the Gulf of Mexico and East Bay will likely be just fine. With the Pass closed, East Bay is doomed.

On the positive side, Rollover Pass is a poor fisherman’s dream. It offers truly quality fishing literally out of the back of your truck. You can drive right up to it. You can roll your wheel chair to it. It is open to all ethnicities and all classes of users. It is all about equality – equal access and equal rights.

By shutting the Pass, the government will be taking private property from the Beaumont Rod, Reel and Gun Club for the supposed purpose of benefiting beachfront homeowners – homeowners who now own the majority of the beach after the Severance decision by the Texas Supreme Court. Why should the Club’s private property be condemned to help private property owners?

Artist's concept of how Rollover Pass could look (click image for larger view).

All of us involved in supporting the Pass – the Beaumont Rod, Reel and Gun Club and the Gilcrist Community Association – recognize that the Pass must be improved. We have produced an image of what it could and should be, and we believe that we can raise the money – private money, not government money – to build this newer and better Pass. But since Ike, the Club, the Gilchrist community and Rollover Pass have been under attack.

All we ask is that the government leaves us alone – that we be allowed the chance to restore this fabulous recreation asset and get back to the business of providing quality fishing, bird watching and recreation to the residents of the Upper Coast.

Wayne Stupka is President of the Beaumont Rod, Reel and Gun Club.
Ted Vega is President of the Gilchrist Community Association.

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43 Responses to “Keep Rollover Pass Open”

  1. Press 1 says:

    I am very concerned for the ecosystem of all of the Galveston Bay system. I am not too concerned about someones beach house. You knew the risk when you bought on the Texas coast. My family had a beach house on Terramar Beach, west end of Galveston Island, until Alicia. Before Alicia, from the front porch deck to the water, at slack tide was about 75-100 yards. I am not joking. Now the water is under where our front deck was. Guess what? In Texas you can’t reclaim that land. Erosion is part of life on the Texas coast. Most of the Texas coast are barrier Islands.
    What about the pollution coming down stream from farm and ranch land, from industries, highways etc. That pollution settles in the swamps and marshes. That is where the fish reproduce. What are we doing to ourselves?
    The Intercoastal waterway has to be dredged anyway. Maybe dredging that area is a little more costly.
    You have a highway that is literally feet from the waves on the beach front. And here comes Ike and tore up the road. How is Rollover Pass responsible for that?
    My question is, what is closing Rollover going to do to the East Bay ecosystem?
    I believe a full detail study on the effect of closing the pass would do to the ecosystem is on order.

  2. Dena Baxley says:

    Hi. I just started going to rollover pass a few years ago. But I love it. My husband and his family has came here for years. My husband came here with his dad alot. Now we come together, every chance we get. I get to come and camp out and fish for mothers day every year. I would love to see it cleaned up but not closed. It’s special for us to go. My husband lost his dad in 2016 so he goes there to remember the good days with his dad. Please keep it open. I know there are lots of people that love going there. If anything just clean it up for us tourists, out of towners. I know I would greatly appreciate if it stayed open. Thank u. May god bless u and keeping the rollover pass open.

  3. Ryan Busalacchi says:

    Anyone know when they will be actually closing it down, or is it still in litigation? I was coming down from Dallas to fish there in June before or if it is to be closed down.

  4. Kimberly Loveall says:

    I am so sad! I grew up fishing there and had planned to introduce my 13 year old grandson to Rollover this memorial day weekend.

  5. Deon says:

    Can we all just get alone , power in the wrong hands can be dangerous, since it worth fighting for let’s fight to the end

  6. Pat DAvis says:


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  8. Tom Dickinson says:

    I am not a Bolivar resident and don’t usually fish Rollover, but this discussion really caught my eye. I guess I misunderstood the plan for Rollover Pass when I read news releases and op-ed pieces about the plan. Is it the plan of the government to bulldoze and concrete up a naturally occuring Pass, or to stop doing the dredging that is required to keep it from filling in and allow it to happen naturally? I thought that was the plan; perhaps I misread. If it is their plan to expend more money and resources to actively close and seal a naturally occuring pass that belongs to private citizens, I think that’s a ridiculous idea. If, however, the pass requires regular maintenance and dredging, I think the land should be handed back to the rightful owners and allow them to do with it what they please. They can arrange for the dredging and maintenance that is necessary, and should have full control over their property. As someone who does not frequent the area, I am in no hurry to have the government spend money to maintain a pass that would close without regular intervention.

    • Chad Willhoite says:

      This pass is not naturally occurring. It’s man made back in the 1950s I believe to allow fresh saltwater to pass into the bay. Creating a more stable ecosystem for saltwater fish.

  9. For those who have made statements as to the condition of the pass you are right it has for years been in need of repair. Being privately owned we receive no funding from the County, State, or Federal Government for the upkeep. As a Member of the Gilchrist Community assn. I would just like to inform you that our members who pay their annual memberships and donate money out of their own pockets and donate their own time are the people who try their best to keep it clean and provide as many trash barrels and porta-cans as possible. The cost has gotten completely out of hand. As you may or may not know we have started charging a small fee for using the pass and some of that money will be going to make improvements starting with more trash cans and porta-cans and trash pick up. Please work with us in our attempt to improve the pass in the future. Improvement may be slow at first but as the funds come in you will start to notice improvements thanks for your understanding.

  10. Mike Killingswoth says:

    Thanks for your work in keeping Rollover open When
    is next Fund Raiser let me know and I will come help.
    Thanks Mike Killingsworth

  11. Larry D says:

    I am not a resident of Bolivar however I share the passion shown here to keep the pass open for all and think the entry charge a small price to pay to bring the pass up to the standard that those using it need. The proposed pier is a poor replacement for the community that has grown around the pass. I am fortunate that I have the abilty to fish from Matagorda to High Island and often will ask family/friends to join me on these trips. Rollover is favorite amoung all who I introduce to the area as a pass is not a pier. Nothing can replace the experience for sharing everything from techniques/fishing stories/bait & bandaids – none of which happens on a pier. Those that I have met while fishing the pass include a immigrant to this country for a former communist country, retired folks from Tennesee who make the pass an annual stop over and those just paasing through that had no idea the resource existed. All take away memories of the pass as a special part of Texas

  12. Ted says:

    Hi, everyone:
    Just a short note to let everyone know that I do read your comments, and want to just say thanks for all of the great stories that come from your heart, these are some of the reasons that the Gilchrist Community Association has been working hard and will continue to represent the thousands of families, people from all walks or life who visit Rollover Pass, and all of the businesses from High Island all the way to Galveston. I know there are issues at the Pass that need adressing if we want to keep it open, we will start adressing them in order of Safety and functionallity. For those who do not support Rollove Pass, I respect that too, and welcome your comments, because there are things that you might see or know that we don’t and maybe make it a better place for all. In the upcoming days ew will be installing more trash containers and adding a few more port a cans.
    I really wish Jerry Patterson of GLO, Galveston County, and the communities could work together and solve the problems, so I can do something that I came to the peninsula to do, Fish and relax.
    Take Care

    • Madonna Porter says:

      The most beautiful place I have seen. So many people and kids come by every year to fish. All different nationality of people come there and get along very well. A lot to learn with people telling their stories. Very nice place, and it will be sad to close it.

  13. Kay Currier says:

    I don’t have a lot to say except…Why would they want to shut something down that helps so many people make a living?? The Bait camp, the Shell Shop. the laundromat. the BBQ stand and the “store” is almost built…we all make money from the fishermen and we want to keep them coming to our little slice of Paradise to spend their money. We have rental cabins, rv parks, motels..etc! Somebody simply wants to cut our throats. I have seen Rollover nasty, some people are that way…go to a park sometime and look around, it’s not just Rollover Pass. And when Im not busy, I love to walk the pass and pick up some trash myself…. Get over yourselves…there’s a whole new breed of people here, and as you can all see….even after IKE…..WE FIGHT FOR WHAT WE WANT, AND WE WANT ROLLOVER PASS OPEN!!

  14. lynn owens says:

    I’m 53 years young, been going there all my life.. My Momma use to put me in a cart while she fished…lol I too took my kids there & would also put them in a cart until they were big enough to fish, just this past week I was there with my 3 youngest grankiddos 3,6,& 9 they all fished too…. do you see the pattern!!! There is Sooooooo many memories there & more to be made. So many good things in life disappear way too soon.. 🙁
    A parking pass for 5.00, or 40.00 yearly family pass
    (membership) is’nt too much to pay, especially for upkeep, someone has to pay for the porta potties & trash bins…. If this is what it takes to keep it open I’m all for it….


  15. vechel renfro says:

    love fishing there hope they stay out of your business.

  16. Scott Neville says:

    Absolutly Don. Hundred percent agree! Its simple. We border it with a nice fence, we put up a small shack at each entrace, we clean it up, we have attendants, we charge an entry fee and a year membership and or a one time pay lifetime membership. We use the money generated to keep it clean and pay for fixing it up and pay the attendants. That will not only contribute to the cost of maintaning the pass, but it will also help filter the less desiarable folks who want to litter and abuse the pass. If you are passionate about the pass and what it has to offer, you should have NO problem paying a gate fee or membership fee. Run it similar to how our state parks are ran. Its simple guys and gals. Why are we complicating things? I know ther is alot of red tape, but per my conversations with people who want to keep it open, we all agree that would be the way to accomplish alot.

  17. Don Russell says:

    Has anyone every looked at all that rusted metal, all the railings that are missing, the parking area that is nearly impossible to drive through?

    I believe we need to keep Rollover Pass, but we have got to do something to make it look better. Right now it is a HUGE safety hazard. I am susprised no one has gotten hurt or killed by all that sharp rusted metal sticking up.

    We need to make this place a safe place to visit.

  18. Scott Neville says:

    I would first like to apologize for my language. I don’t want to retract my statement. Just re-phrase it. I am very passionate about the proposal for rollover to be closed, for many reasons. You can argue its trashy. You can argue its this,or its that. The bottom line is, if you dont like it, don’t go there. It’s just total abuse of power by government, wether its local, state or federal. Its private land!!! PERIOD!!! Look how our new obama government and abuse of power is affecting our health care system and small business owners across America. By trying to close Rollover is a power move for monetary gain for developers. If we let them close the pass. Then next year it will be beach closers. Then it will be our guns then there will be no fishing zones ect……… get the picture!?!?!? As I stated in last weeks replies. Its an absolute abuse of power!!!! Its just sad!!! Leave one of the last wild places in texas alone. There will be a substantial fight to keep it open. There are alot of behind the scenes money and lawyering going on. Even Ted is not aware of the help and effort behind the scenes to keep it open. We will win!!! It takes voices and influence, and yes a few dollars. So please don’t stand idle if your a fisherman or woman, a bird watcher, a business owner, a “local”, or anyone with enough sense to realize that it would almost wipe-out the bird and marine life and fishery over the years. The same idiots that are saying its trashy and to close it. Are the same idiots that are throwing trash out of the window of there suv and the same idiots that wear there matching pretty little columbia shirts and whine about not catching any fish out of there 70k dollar bay boat. Go fish behind rollover, maybe you’ll catch something!?!?!?!?

    • Mark says:

      Obama has nothing to do with an attempt to close the pass. The attempts are being made by agencies controlled by Texas elected Republicans, very conservative ones at that. Don’t confuse people about who is doing wrong in this case. It is not Obama, the Democrats, or anti-gun politcians. It is a Republican elected official, Patterson, who is as anti-Obama and pro-gun as any you will find. The Republicans are for the guys driving the $70,000 bay boats and not for you who bank fish the Rollover Pass, but you all continue to vote for them which is the part that amazes me. If you want even more of the same just vote for young Georgie P. Bush for Land Commissioner and that’s what you will get. However, if you want a government responsive to these concerns STOP AUTOMATICALLY GIVING AWAY YOUR VOTE TO REPUBLICANS. They do not respect you and they know they can take your vote for granted because they know they can distract you by using scary phrases like “Obamacare” or “socialism” and so forth.

  19. Warren Adams says:

    My wife Pam and I are the owners of FantaSea BBQ & Grill which is located approx. 300 yards east of Rollover Pass. Rollover Pass has a lot of visitors who frequent my business and many of the business from Winnie to Bolivar. We all benefit from these visitors.
    FantaSea BBQ & grill became a reality because I did not agree with the statement the Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson made “it’s unlikely that Gilchrist would be rebuilt beyond a “beer joint and bait camp” Mr. Patterson I am not a beer joint or a bait camp.

    • Warren and Pam
      Just wanted to thank you for your determination to help rebuild a new Gilchrist and your support of the pass. Your establishment is what visitors expect when going to the beach. Gilchrist is returning bigger and better than before.

  20. Scott Neville says:

    Get more educated before you make an ignorant statement!!! It is not a navigable waterway. Chumps!!!!!!

  21. Scott Neville says:

    To “Datdude” and “Cory”, Your the type of assholes that don’t belong on Bolivar in the first place!!! Go vacation in galveston proper or Florida if you don’t like it. Yes it needs to be cleaned up more often. But your ignorance about the affect that it would cause on fishing and the quality of life in east Bay is noted. By the way, I’m not just a fishing bumb with no education or money. My net worth is more than likley triple both of you idiots combined. State your full name and quit being a coward behind a screne name. You both are just ignorant. Its hard for me to reason with ignorance and stupidity!!!! So stay in your paved sub division’s with a homeowners association and your manicured lawns. And stay away from bolivar. We dont want you and we dont need you!!!!
    Thats why millionares and people come and live in Bolivar. its to get away from the up tight assholes like yourselves that we are surrounded by on a daily basis. I bet you both are yankees!!!! You havn’t a clue!!!! we don’t want your business or money!!!

    • darlene says:

      HEY SCOTT, I DONT KNOW AND DONT CARE WHat you have with yankees i am a yankee born and raised had a house in gilchrist for 26 years before ike my kids,grandkids and now greatgrandkids love it we help keep it clean and also help ted in everything he needs so cut your shit about yankees we are clean people and love the cut

      • Ted says:

        Darlene, Yes you are a yankee and a good one, you both have been and are very supportive of Rollover Pass, We all appreciate you.

  22. datdude says:

    Close that freaking dump!

  23. Tuff E Nuff says:

    It is NOT a navigable waterway, as the height of the bridge is too low to meet that definition….although a plausible argument!

  24. Ted says:

    This is some information for all, I am trying to get the Historical Marker for Rollover Pass replaced, have contacted the State Historical Commission to get the process started. While doing my research I found that it is marker #7166 and was erected in 1963, here is what is on that marker
    Marker Text: A strait approximately 200 feet wide, 5 feet deep and more than 1,600 feet long across Bolivar Peninsula – was opened in 1955 by the Texas Game and Fish Commission as part of its continuing program to perpetuate and improve the state’s fish and wildlife resources. The commission’s purposes in constructing this pass were to introduce into East Bay sufficient quantities of sea water to increase bay water salinity, and to provide additional opportunity for travel of marine fish to and from spawning and feeding areas in the bay. Lower salinity in East Bay was caused by the discharge of several fresh water streams into the area on the mainland side of the peninsula. This excessive fresh water not only limited the existence of marine fish but also restricted the growth of submerged vegetation, which provides nursery areas and forms the basis of the food cycle for marine life. Creation of Rollover Fish Pass has greatly improved salt water fishing conditions for the thousands of sportsmen who flock to East Bay throughout the year. Known as Rollover long before the Texas Game and fish Commission constructed the fish pass, this site has a history steeped in legend dating back to the days of the Spaniards and continuing through the American prohibition period.

    Now, this informatin came from the Fish and Game Commission (now TPWD) I really feel that is why the Pass was meant to do, and believe it really is doing that now, this is why we should pay attention and do what is right, the sand issue can be mitigated, if the GLO wanted to help, I don’t know what will happen to the Bay and Marine life if we close the Pass. To me it is better to work on a issue rather that just say it has to be closed, there is too much at stake, the marine life, the bay, the local and surrounding communities.

    Take Care Ted

    • Sounds like at one time the state knew importance of the pass. But Jerry Patterson with all his wisdom thinks he knows better. Typical politician they think they always know what is best for everyone but seldom have all facts to back it up.

  25. Cory W says:

    There is a large amount of immensely flawed logic here.

    That pass is a navigable waterway, and as such is not private property. It was also built by easement unless I’m mistaken, in which case it was ceded to the government to allow maintenance of the pass, and as such is no longer under the control of surrounding owners. The same thing applies to pipeline easements….

    The pass is a dirty trash heap, that has not been maintained properly in my lifetime. It’s needed to go for a while.

    • Ted says:

      Cory, The entire pass is private property, the Fish & Game Commission was given a easement that allowed them to build, modify or maintain if they so desire, there is not closeure option for them. Many years ago they opted to longer help maintain it, The Gilchrist Community Associatin has tried for many years to keep it up, and operate soley on donations and the fundraiser which basically kept up the minimum things, trash pick up (there are approx 28 barrels) twice a week, dumpster, and some port a cans. I agree at times there is trash, some of it gets blown out of the cans, and some people just throw it down on the ground, and bring their household trash here. This are the facts, now I can honestly say that the fisherman, families that come here are good people and will do a better job with these types of things. Oh by the way Rollover Pass is not a navigable waterway, yes some people ocassionally try to go thru, there are steel walls just under the water level to control flow, which can tear up a boat. We appreciate your questions and comments, Ted

  26. david lawrence says:

    ……there are times when a dictator (in absolute control) is needed…..and that is what it would take to keep and improve Rollover to something like the artist’s rendition………….

  27. cindy guidry says:

    I would be for keeping the pass if it were better maintained. I do not think it is cleaned and looks horrible most of the time.

    • Ted says:

      Thanks for your comments, we do clean the Pass, barrels are emptied on fridays and mondays, I wish we could afford trash can emptying every day, who knows one day this could be. I hope that you will look at the situation from all sides, trash is something we can deal with, if the Pass is closed than everyone looses. Take Care Ted

      • Ted says:

        One more thing, Rollover Pass now has a duty person at all times and can be reached at 409 739 9847, if anyone see’s something that needs attention, give us a call Ted

  28. Tuff E Nuff says:

    Just remember these nine little words….”we’re from the Government, and we’re here to help!”

    • Ted says:

      True, I wish they would realize that they are public servants that should be working for the people and not public figures that want something done.

  29. I’ve been on this earth 75 years, have had a house on Bolivar since I was 2! We walked from Gilchrist to Kaplan to visit friends, and if the tide was in we had to walk on the highway. Rollover Pass was always there, long before they dug it out in the fifties. If tide was out we could walk all the way on the beach. It never was literally closed that’s why Lafitte used it to roll over his barrels of “ill gotten goods” to the bay.

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