Local News

Apr 1, 2014 10:37 PM by Janine Reyes

Padre Island National Seashore Closure Creating a Damper in Vacation Plans

CORPUS CHRISTI -- Your access to the Padre Island National Seashore will now be restricted, thanks to the oil spill in the Houston ship channel.

Driving on the beach has been suspended indefinitely and other beach activities are being discouraged. It is already impacting visitors.

"We like it here, it's very relaxing; when you're old fogies like us, it's very nice," Stan Bugaieski told us. He and his wife Mary Ann are visiting from Illinois.

Tomorrow is the end of their 3rd trip to the National Seashore in recent years. But, they didn't plan on spending the final days of their vacation off the beach. They had hoped to go on a bird tour on the north and south part of the beach today. "Today they said they're closed," Stan told us, "we couldn't go down to the water at all."

That's the area of the beach General Land Office crews are cleaning right now. Today about 100 workers spent their day picking up oil and tar.

"One method is to use rakes or shovels and put them in a piles and pick them up and put them in the bags, then they're disposed if properly after that," explained Jay Veselka, an Assistant Regional Director for Region 3, which is located in Corpus Christi.

Each day brings the potential for more oil to wash ashore. "Every day it kind of seems a little bit different what's washing ashore," explained Veselka.

What's washing ashore is not something you want to touch, Stan learned that the hard way. "I just picked up a piece of something, she said what is that." Stan said.

"We thought it was a feather because it was dark," Mary Ann continued.

"And I picked it up and I realized there was crude on it, it wouldn't come off in the sand though," said Stan.

That's why park officials suggest not just a ban on driving, but they suggest staying off the beach all together, although that is not a requirement like driving restrictions in place.

Still, it's a warning that's changed plans for Stan and Mary Ann. "It's restricted us; we like to walk the beach and we're not doing it today because they advised not doing it," said Mary Ann.

If you decide to go anyway, park rangers suggest you bring baby oil and paper towels.

"We talked to the ranger here yesterday, he was cleaning off people's hands using mineral oil, they said that works," Stan told us.

Mary Ann and Stan say at least this happened at he end of their trip.
They'll have to just save their beach walks for next time.

"Will it keep you from coming back," we asked. "Oh no, not at all," Stan said.

Park officials plan to reopen the roads as soon as they can, but they cannot give an estimate on when that will be.


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