AllCampgrounds Special News Update: Camping in the “Oil Zone”

May 24, 2010
A misty morning on the Louisiana bayou

A misty morning on the Louisiana bayou
Photo by: Pam Roth (Stock Exchange)

Good afternoon from AllCampgrounds!

Today, I think it’s important to brief our readers on the ongoing situation with the Gulf oil spill and its impact on camping in coastal states.

Information is scarce in some respects, but we’ll provide links and follow-up to help the tent camping and RV camping community understand how problems in the Gulf are affecting the camping scene in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, the habitats most likely to be see oil come ashore.

State by State Breakdown of the Oil Spill for Campers

At the time of this writing, the biggest environmental impact has been felt in Louisiana and Florida. Oil from the spill has reached the shores of Louisiana, and emergency measures are being taken to protect sensitive marshlands. Right now, Louisiana’s Office of State Parks reports no closures, but conditions may change depending on factors like the weather and tides. There are a number of inland parks, much less likely to be affected, which we’ll be showcasing in a future series.

In Florida, tar balls were discovered at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West. This park is known for one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida and offers hiking, fishing, biking, and other activities to visitors year round. The tar balls have not been determined to be an after-effect of the spill, but with the “no fishing” zone in the Gulf widening, its exactly these kinds of coastal regions that may see changes in the coming days and weeks. Parks in the Key West area are particularly vulnerable, so call ahead if you have plans in the area. If there’s a shift in conditions, even the Everglades may be endangered. Watch the Florida Department of State Parks for closure news.

Alabama offers a centralized resource page for oil spill response info. At the moment, ‘bama is on the lookout for oiled wildlife along the entire coastline. Oil has washed ashore in both Alabama and Mississippi, and has now reached the “loop current.” While this may be good news for Florida, other states along the current’s path remain on high alert. Further efforts to contain the oil spill are expected soon: see the recent New York Times article “The Latest on the Oil Spill” for more. There’s also oil spill news for Gulf Shore and Orange Beach, AL.

Even with all this, there are no reported park closures: your camping plans can go ahead without change in virtually all areas of the spill zone, though fishing may be restricted without warning. If you’ve been thinking about visiting the Gulf states, but now you’re not sure, I urge you to do it! No matter what happens, these states will need the support of campers: both the environment and the economy are very important in helping make sure that parks remain open, well-tended, and available for everyone. The situation on the coast may change rapidly, but all the states are “open for business.”

We’ll keep you updated on AllCampgrounds with the latest news and info as it develops.

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