A near-fatal blow from Hurricane Ike devastated Galveston Island State Park in September 2008.
Park buildings were flooded, trees and shrubs uprooted or killed, and debris and trash filled ponds and fields.
Adding insult to injury, rumors started swirling that the state park, which would cost tens of millions to rebuild could be shuttered for up to seven years.
Galveston Island State Park enjoys visitation rivaled only by Garner State Park in the Hill Country.
But this predicted time frame was unacceptable to Friends of Galveston Island State Park, Galveston Bay Foundation, school groups, Boy Scout troops, college volunteers, and state park employees.
Recognizing the need to lend a hand during tough economic conditions, people who had grown up visiting the park began showing up with shovels and garbage bags to pick up trash. Dunes were replanted with fresh grasses to help stabilize the shifting sands. With volunteer help, buildings were taken down, removed or reconstructed.
What started as a citizen effort soon drew the attention of state legislators, and Galveston Rep. Craig Eiland worked with his colleagues in state capitol to find $12,000,000 to help pay for reconstruction.
Today, that save-the-park rallying cry offers an amazing example of how the public can work with elected officials and park personnel to care for a park they love.
A mere six months after Ike, predictions for the future of Galveston Island State Park turned from cloudy to sunny.
By March 2009, the bay-side nature center had been rebuilt as an all-purpose visitor center. The state park installed a small windmill to provide renewable, green energy. Roads and parking pads were cleared and access to the beach reclaimed.
The park began to again welcome guests. Anglers, kayakers, hikers, and birders started to return.
By June, the Gulf-side RV and tent campsites reopened.
Meanwhile, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has evaluated bids for a new master plan, which is estimated to cost between $30 and $40 million, and which would depend on approval from the current legislative session.
Current amenities at Galveston Island State Park
Located on the west end of Galveston Island, Galveston Island State Park now offers RV and tent camping with water and 30/50-amp electric service. Camping is offered both beachside and bayside—on the Gulf of Mexico and Como Lake. A dump station is available in the park.
Camping fees are determined by the campsite location and amenities.
Visitors to Galveston Island State Park have access to restrooms, some with showers and others without, picnic sites and shelters, freshwater and saltwater fishing, and a fish-cleaning area. A two-lane boat ramp adjacent to the park at Pirate Cove is available for the use of state park guests. There are also hiking and biking trails and an interpretive center.Excellent bird watching opportunities are also available.
Planning Your Visit
Elevation: 1 foot above sea level
Location: 14901 FM 3005
Directions: From I-45, exit right onto 61st Street to Seawall Boulevard; right (west) on Seawall (FM 3005) 10 miles to the park entrance
Day-use fee: $5/adult; free to holders of Texas State Park Pass
Camping fee: Premium (Beach Side) with 50 amp electric and water hookups, shade shelter, picnic table, and ground fire ring – $25/night
Bay Side campsites with electric and water hookups – $20/night
Bay Side campsites with water – $15/night
Information: (409) 737-1222
Tomorrow we begin exploring our favorite Galveston attractions…
Texas Spoken Friendly
Excuse me…but is this Heaven?
For all at last return to the sea—to Oceanus, the ocean river, like the ever-flowing stream of time, the beginning and the end.
—Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us