Ten days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, about a third of the state’s 167 state parks remain closed as the state Department of Environmental Protection deals with the damage done by the storm. The reasons for closure vary depending on the park, a DEP spokeswoman said.
“We’re seeing things from heavy debris to building damage,” .DEP spokeswoman Lauren Engel said in an e-mail Wednesday. “We’ve also got some parks closed due to flooding or lack of power, which is used to operate the water and septic systems at certain parks.”
The list of parks that are currently closed includes Hillsborough River State Park, Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park and the Ybor City Museum State Park in Hillsborough County. Honeymoon Island State Park in Pinellas is open but its nature center is closed. Some parks are open only for day use, not camping. Check ahead before you go.
Engel said the parks’ staff has been hard at work trying to reopen the parks while also ensuring visitor safety. At one point all of the parks were closed, but now that number is down to about 50, she said.
Florida’s park system is known throughout the country for its beauty and diversity. Florida is the only state that has won a prestigious national award for parks three times.
The parks are more than an environmental jewel — they’re also an economic engine. A DEP analysis in 2015 found that about 27 million people visited the parks, generating an economic impact of $2.1 billion.