Friends of Bahia Honda State Park donate sabal palms to help restore native vegetation to the beach area that was devastated by Hurricane Irma. CONTRIBUTED

A large section of beach, as well as the tent camping sites, at the popular Bahia Honda State Park near Big Pine Key have been closed since Hurricane Irma in September 2017.

But Park Manager Mark Duncan called the Keys Weekly last week to let us know the Sandspur Beach area has officially reopened for daytime use.

“The tent camping area will be next to reopen and we’ll start taking reservations for those spots in the coming weeks,” Duncan said, adding that the park’s cabins on the bayside have been open, but the tent camping sites, which typically have a waitlist several months long, will be a welcome return.

Restoration of the state park still continues, but the reopening of Sandspur Beach is a huge post-Irma milestone, Duncan said.

The other popular stretch of beach, Loggerhead Beach, reopened in 2018, a year after the storm, park officials said. 

Loggerhead Beach at Bahia Honda is seen before (left) and after the Hurricane Irma recovery efforts. CONTRIBUTED

“After the storm passed, volunteers and staff came together to remove debris, clear paths and begin the long road to recovery. Restoration efforts are still taking place to restore the beloved park,” states the Florida State Parks website. “After the storm passed, biologists determined which park ecosystems had suffered significant damage and how that would affect native plant species. Biologists then created a plan to restore these hurricane-damaged habitats. Hurricane Irma was not the first storm to hit Bahia Honda, nor will it be the last. But what is notable is that each time, people from all over the state come together to rebuild and renew the park which they hold so dear. The projects that have taken place here are a true testament to the spirit of resilience and perseverance that shines brightly at Bahia Honda State Park.”

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Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.