The latest on Sam Houston Jones State Park

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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Moss Bluff, LA (KPLC) - Sam Houston Jones State Park has been closed for more than a year now.

The state park was a place to forget your troubles while enjoying a good run, camping under the stars or surveying native birds and plants. That was until Hurricane Laura devastated the jewel of nature.

And many want to know: When will it open again?

State parks officials agreed to update a group of about 15 people at the park entrance, though closer to 50 came out. They represented many different groups from Boy and Girl Scouts to bird watchers.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Parks Cliff Melius explained work underway and what’s to come.

“We want to get it back open, but we also want to make sure we do it right and we do it safe,” Melius said. “We’ve had, probably everybody that’s here today, has called and wanted to volunteer, and we want you here to volunteer. The problem is it’s not safe to volunteer.”

Then there was a drive through the park to see damage, continuing cleanup and repairs. A major danger is dead trees.

“We have all these trees that are still left standing - some are dead, they’re leaning. They’re blowing over on a regular basis and breaking off,” Melius said.

Plus, there is heavy equipment and burn piles. Progress includes new cabins - creating excitement for what’s to come.

Sean Newell is a mountain biker.

“This is been kind of our therapy here,” mountain biker Sean Newell said. “A lot of just life and everything else happens. And you come out and you can just forget about all that when you come out on the trails and ride and it’s just what’s right in front of you. And you don’t worry about everything else.”

Tonya McKnight is helping to organize a Friends of the Park group to volunteer when it’s safe to do so.

“At first, I felt forgotten, because we haven’t heard anything. But after today, I feel really excited about the plans they have for the park,” McKnight said. “They’re going to come back and make it bigger and better than ever.”

State officials hope the park opens late winter if weather cooperates. Though, state officials are quick to add they are making no promises.

There are Facebook groups that keep up with progress and repairs at the park. Here is one by mountain bikers. Tonya McKnight started the SHJSP Recovery Initiative.

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