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July 2011 cover image Every Drop Counts

Park Pick: Sea Rim Returns

Coastal park finds new life after hurricane devastation.

By Sheryl Smith-Rodgers

Last February, Texas master naturalists hosted a beach cleanup at Sea Rim State Park. But they didn’t stop there. Since March, members of the Sabine–Neches chapter have worked to rebuild more than a mile of beach dunes destroyed by Hurricane Ike along the park’s coastal boundary.

Part of the dune restoration project calls for installing 4,000 feet of sand fencing in a critical area that’s quickly eroding close to park facilities. Along the remaining frontage, volunteers will place square hay bales to stabilize sand.

In September 2008, Sea Rim State Park — ravaged by Hurricane Rita in ’05 — was two weeks away from reopening when Hurricane Ike pounded the region. After massive cleanups, the park opened to visitors on a limited basis. In the meantime, reconstruction of facilities — funded by $2 million allocated by the 81st Legislature — started this summer.

“A new maintenance building and residence will be built first,” says park manager Tracy Ferguson. “Also, new elevated walkways over the dunes have been better designed to protect our dunes from future storm surges. One walkover will have 10 tent pads so people can tent camp over the dunes.”

Other planned improvements include beach unit road repairs, parking area improvements, a day-use area (with picnic tables and grills), potable water, restroom facilities and rinse showers.

Though popular tours by airboat have ceased, you can still swim, fish, paddle, hike and go bird watching at Sea Rim State Park, which is split by Texas Highway 87 into the D. Roy Harrington Beach Unit and the Marshland Unit. To access the beach, you can either park your vehicle and walk, or drive right onto the beach. Camping is self-contained or primitive only. Bring everything you need; no drinking water or restrooms are currently available.

Be sure to stroll the Gambusia Boardwalk, just recently rebuilt. Named for the park’s resident mosquito fish, the ¾-mile-long elevated nature trail winds across wetlands in the beach unit. During spring and fall migrations, birds galore stop over at Sea Rim. Heads up: Keep an eye out for American alligators, which inhabit the park’s marshes (never provoke or get too close to an alligator).

Sea Rim State Park is located 20 miles south of Port Arthur on Texas Highway 87. For more information, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/searim or call 409-971-2559.

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