Fontainebleau State Park opens after Isaac

Published 9:00 am Friday, November 2, 2012

By Debbie Glover

Pontchartrain Newspapers

Mandeville’s Fontainebleau State Park, a long-time favorite of south Louisianans for picnicking and camping, saw its share of water and destruction during Hurricane Isaac.

The park is now open for picnicking and some camping, such as group camp number three, the lodge, and the beach area. The cabins, however, will take a while to fix.

“Basically, they are only a shell,” said park manager Dwayne Borel. “They all had water and the furniture got mildewed as well. We simply couldn’t use any of the furniture and the cabins will need to be gutted. We are now waiting for FEMA.”

The cabins had been rebuilt after Katrina, as well as the marsh overlook boardwalk, re-opening in early 2008. They had suffered from Katrina, and now have faced the same fate from Isaac.

The marsh overlook walkway was also destroyed by Isaac.

“It’s gone, too, and we hope to rebuild it when we get funding from FEMA,” said Borel.

In 2008, Borel said of the boardwalk area, “It was basically the same (before Katrina). There’s a lot more water now. Before Katrina, it was all grass, but now it’s wide open.”

Now, after yet another storm surge thanks to Isaac, it awaits nails and hammer and wood to be restored. A popular area for nature observers, nesting areas and even alligators were seen near the structure. Now it’s gone, again.

The state park has been a perennial favorite since it opened in the 1940s. The most popular park in the state, Borel said it had 300,000 visitors last year alone, some campers, some for the day, some for just an hour.

Group camp three, which is open, sleeps 65 and has a private lake. Borel said that the lodge, which is also open, sleeps 12. Reservations for the structures are made through Camp America, not the park, so he isn’t sure if they are booked at the moment, but “they usually are; they are quite popular.” Those areas as well as other picnic and camping areas reopened Oct. 15.

The beach area is also open, although Borel said the fountain is not working.

Basically, due to Isaac, the park has not been able to host the visitors it usually does.

“We may slip from our number one position in the state for this year, but I’m confident we will regain it,” said Borel.

He said there is a beautiful park in north Louisiana with rolling hills that is also popular.

Fontainebleau State Park is 2,800 acres and includes part of the Tammany Trace. Interpretive signs along the trail will help visitorsidentify many of the common trees and shrubs. More than 400 different species of birds and animals live in and around the park. It is bordered on three sides by water, including Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Cane and Bayou Castine, providing a multitude of ecosystems and habitats to view.