Closed since early October for damage repairs from Hurricane Matthew, Hunting Island State Park plans to reopen Memorial Day weekend. Image courtesy Robert Gecy
Hunting Island State Park officials are still targeting Memorial Day weekend as the date to have much of the park reopened to visitors, including parts of the beach and the lighthouse.
According to an April 17th Beaufort Gazette interview with Duane Parrish, Director of SC Parks, Recreation & Tourism, a system is being worked out to shuttle park visitors from St. Helena Elementary School to the beach whenever the lots are full at the park during its busier weekends and holidays. According to Parrish, the ride won’t cost any more than the $5 park entry fee and will drop visitors at the beach.
Parrish also said that work is expected to begin at the end of the year to renourish the beach. The restoration was planned before Matthew came, but the hurricane wiped out dunes separating the beach from the rest of the park bumping the expected price tag to $6.5 million.
For the full article, visit the Gazette here.
Due to the tremendous amount of damage, there is no doubt that many things will change and will not be recognizable once Memorial Day rills around. New trail maps will be needed once work is completed because so much has changed. Two trails near the lighthouse are completely gone, and the Nature Center Trail will have different fauna identified on a new map. That trail leads out to South Beach via a bridge over the lagoon. It will now at high tide reach a new island since the lagoon has breached.
The campground used to have 200 camp sites, but 88 were lost. Of those remaining, 10 have no services, and 92 will have both water and electricity, The ocean side of the Campground, which was hardest hit, has a completely new look. This is going to be a pristine tropical beach with a wide expanse of sand. Before the hurricane, you couldn’t see the ocean from the campground store because of the dunes, but with the dunes gone, there is a very nice view of the ocean. Sand fencing will be installed along the beach to create new dunes.
Entrance to Hunting Island State Park is barricaded in this April 17th ESPB photo.