SABINE PASS —
A gentle Gulf breeze welcomed a crowd to Sea Rim State Park Friday, where dignitaries and citizens gathered for the Grand Re-opening Ceremony of what was described as a unique state treasure.
Sea Rim, with its 4,100 acres — five of those beachfront — was nearly destroyed from hurricanes Rita and Ike, but was not down and out, as evidenced by the outpouring Friday.
“This has definitely been a journey after Rita, followed by Ike. This park took a one-two punch with Ike and we were flat on our backs,” Justin Rhodes, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state parks regional director, said Friday during the ceremony.
Sea Rim is like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department executive director told those in attendance.
“This park was beaten, bedraggled, bruised, but not broken,” Smith said.
Since the devastation caused by the hurricanes in the last decade, about $2 million has been spent to bring the park back to its former state.
A new dune boardwalk with rinse showers, a beachside campground with vault restrooms, new day-use area and a six-person cabin overlooking the marsh were among the improvements welcoming visitors to the state park that might not have been rebuilt if not for an eco system that makes it unique among other state parks.
Friday’s festivities marked the second grand opening since the hurricanes. In 2009 the park reopened with limited services.
Sea Rim is important to the area not only because of its environmental and economic impact, but also because it has for years been a popular destination for the community.
“This area has been a blessing in my life,” Jeff Branick, Jefferson County judge, said, adding that some of his best memories were those spent around Sea Rim.
“I grew up in the Keith Lake system with my grandfather seining minnows. We spent many a day down the road here duckhunting. This area has been a blessing in my life,” Branick said.
Park Director Ben Herman described Sea Rim as much more than sand and buildings that can be washed away.
Sea Rim is the swimsuit-clad family on the beach building sand castles, the man standing in the surf reeling in a redfish, Herman said.
“I hope Sea Rim inspires you and makes you excited the way it does myself and my staff,” Herman said.
Using funding available from the BP oil spill, the state park is slated to have additional improvements including permanent headquarters building to replace the temporary facility used now, as well as a fish cleaning station.