The thick forest of longleaf pine trees at Sam Houston Jones State Park was no match for the powerful winds of Hurricane Laura, which pounded southwestern Louisiana in the Fall of 2020. But after nearly two years of a massive tree clearing and repairs to every structure, the Louisiana state park is reopening.
“It was utter devastation,” recalls Louisiana State Parks Director Brandon Burris. “We had a complete loss of pretty much every asset we had on the park.” Hurricane Laura, which made landfall near Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 27, 2020, ranks among the most powerful storms to hit the state. Laura had sustained winds of 150 mph. Recovery workers with chain saws had to cut their way through the park’s roads. “Every three to six feet we’d have to cut a pine tree. Push it off the road, go another three to six feet and cut another pine tree,” said Burris.
the long recovery at sam houston jones state park
The state park director estimates that 98 percent of the trees are gone. “It’s in the tens of tens of thousand,” explained Burris. Frequent and heavy rains in the months following Hurricane Laura further hampered efforts to remove the downed trees. Eventually, it was state park employees who cleared the destruction. Volunteers joined the effort to reforest the park, helping to plant nearly 20-thousand trees.
fewer trees but improved facilities
In addition to clearing downed trees and planting new ones, the state park has new and improved facilities. A long wooden pier runs along the shoreline of the park’s day use area on the Calcasieu River. The ten deluxe cabins are new. Each has a screened patio with with outdoor fireplace. But unlike all of the other Louisiana state parks, the campground is void of any trees. The park’s 31 campsites have paved driveways with complete utility hookups, including sewerage.
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The park is scheduled to reopen on Memorial Day, May 30, 2022.
Sam Houston Jones State Park is located 10 miles north of Lake Charles, LA in the town of Moss Bluff. Address: 107 Sutherland Road, Lake Charles, LA. Phone 337-855-2662, 1-888-677-7264