Visitors to one of South Carolina’s most popular parks will no longer be able to rent cabins along the beach. Park officials evacuated visitors last week from the south end of Hunting Island State Park after a high tide cut off the road that runs to the cabins. A private cabin was also knocked loose from its foundation.
State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism spokesperson Marion Edmonds said park officials have known this would eventually happen:
It’s a process that’s been going on for years. It’s not a surprise to us. The question was ‘when,’ rather than ‘if’ this was going to happen. At this point, the state park cabins below that break in the highway are no longer going to be rented, because we’ve lost the utilities.
Edmonds said the Park Service would no longer rent the cabins on the south side of the island. Anyone who had already made reservations at the state-owned cabins will be offered a chance to use cabins in other parks. They will also be offered a refund, if necessary.
Hunting Island officials have long battled heavy erosion along the park’s beach. The state had already stopped renting out most of its buildings along Cabin Road. Edmonds said officials were even in the process of shuttering the existing cabins before the road was cut off.
We’re involved in a process now that I suppose could be called a ‘planned retreat’ from that southern end of the beach.
One state-owned cabin that is not threatened by erosion remains open on the north side of the island. The decision also does not affect several private homes along Cabin Road, although Edmonds believes they will also close eventually.
Edmonds said the rest of the park remains open and should not be affected by erosion anytime soon. These facilities include campgrounds, trails, and a lighthouse dating to the 1870s.
Edmonds says the heavy erosion at Hunting Island is a constant issue park officials will have to deal with.
We think it’s time now to sit and look and think fresh, given the new technology, the new scientific information that we have, and the new environmental concerns that we have, and really come up with a gameplan for the future there.