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Hunting Island State Park reopening for Memorial Day weekend

Hunting Island (Google Earth)

A popular Lowcountry beach and state park are close to being totally reopened to the public after sustaining severe damage during Hurricane Matthew.

After more than seven months, South Carolina State Park officials say most of popular Hunting Island State Park in Beaufort County will reopen Friday, May 26.

The park has been closed since October in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

State officials say the access to both the northern and southern sections of the beach will reopen, along with the park’s visitor center, historic lighthouse complex and picnic areas.

The park’s campground and fishing pier are still being repaired, and officials say they will remain closed for at least a few more weeks, and possibly up to a few months.

Hunting Island is a barrier island, and state parks officials say it certainly served as a barrier between mainland Beaufort and the brunt of the hurricane.

Officials say the park sustained about $5 million in damage to facilities, and strong tides eroded much of the park’s dunes. The parks roads were damaged, and thousands of trees were damaged by winds and floodwaters.

The Park Service says Hunting Island State Park is one of South Carolina’s top revenue generators, and estimates the park’s seven-month closure cost the state $2 million in revenue.

Admission fees for Hunting Island are as follows:

$5 per person, 16 and older

$3 per child 6-15,

Free, children 5 and younger

$3.25 for people 65 and older

To maximize your enjoyment of Hunting Island State Park, officials recommend the following steps:

Car pool as much as possible, since the park lost about one-third of its parking spaces

Visit during weekdays

Visit during non-holidays

Visit in the early afternoon

Avoid restricted areas

For more information, contact Dawn Dawson-House at ddawson@scprt.com or 803-734-1779.

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