Manager provides Bogue Chitto State Park update

Published 7:58 am Friday, November 16, 2012



With its roadways now paved and new signage in the works, Franklinton’s Bogue Chitto State Park continues to grow toward the vision laid out in its master plan.

The park saw some damage from Hurricane Isaac but is now essentially back to normal, manager Kyle Bernis reports.

The majority of the hurricane damage at the park was due to flooding from the Bogue Chitto River and was seen in the park’s lower section, including the bottomland campground, day use area and beach area, Bernis said.

“We had about 8 feet of water in some places,” he said. “Structurally, the damage wasn’t that bad, but from the flooding, it did do a lot of water damage and it moved a lot of the sand around. That’s the biggest thing.”

After about a month and with some assistance from the other state parks, Bogue Chitto was cleaned up and returned to regular operations, Bernis said. “We still have some sand to move around and a few little things we still need to do, but for the most part we’re pretty much completely fixed back up,” he said, adding that all park

attractions are open as usual.

Bernis said a road project recently wrapped up, where paving was done in response to one of the biggest complaints concerning the park: dust. The first phase of the project was completed in May, shortly before Bernis arrived at the park, and the second phase was finished in October.

“All the roads are paved except for one portion in the campgrounds that has a pretty

bad washout problem,” he said.

Bernis has been manager for six months, having previously worked at several different parks— mostly in the Lafayette area — during his 12 years with the Louisiana Office of State Parks, he said. Rupert Araiza joined the team as assistant manager about two months ago.

The park staff is in the process of improving signage, as Bernis has received feedback from visitors that there is not enough signage in place.

“We’re working on that right now,” he said.

So far this year, the park has seen about 100,000 visitors, Bernis estimates. However, he is trying to get more signage directing people toward the park from Interstate 12, letting potential visitors know where the park is and how to get there.

“The word, I guess, hasn’t really gotten out still,” he said. “I still talk to people from

Covington, and right down the road, that don’t know that we exist.”

In another project, the trail systems got something of a makeover after Isaac, Bernis

said. “We had a lot of trees down in our trails, the equestrian trails and the hiking trails,” he said. “So when one of our guys came through to clean up, he actually went through and made the trails wider, which works out really well, especially for the equestrian trail riders.

“The trails are significantly wider to where you can get horses through.”

Bogue Chitto State Park, Bernis said, is always looking for ways to make improvements and eager to hear feedback from customers. He said he would like to

see Bogue Chitto move closer to the original vision for the park.

“In the master plan of the park, there was a lot more that was supposed to be here,” he said. “So eventually we’re going to have more cabins.

We’d love to have a nature center where we could do our programs, have an actual building where we can do programs out of.”

A variety of programs and activities for visitors are held each month, Bernis said. A

Halloween event last month attracted about 400 people and had participation

from the visitors already staying in the campgrounds, he said.

Public programs planned for the remainder of this month include Flint Knapping

on Nov. 17, from 10 a.m. until noon; Nature Craft on Nov. 17, from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m.; Outdoor Cooking on Nov. 24, from 10 a.m. until noon; and Wildlife Diets on Nov. 24, from 1 p.m. until 2 p.m. All programs begin in the interpretive program

area and are included with the $1 park admission fee.

Call 839-5707 for more information, or visit ks/icalendar.aspx for a continuously updated calendar of events.