Reopened Campsite Needs Campers To Spread The Word

Park rangers at Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs say the campsite shut down after Katrina is open again, but unfortunately not many people know about it. This holiday weekend campers filled up only about half of the more than 50 available lots. Rangers say creating a buzz could help bring the people in.

Before Katrina Jim and Trish Apperson say they were regulars at the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The couple from Madison, Mississippi says the campground is still nice and quiet, but not quite the same as before the hurricane.

Trish Apperson said, "There are fewer people, of course, since Katrina. We were noticing other camp grounds as we were coming in on Saturday. They don't quite have the campers that have been here before."

After 20 months as a FEMA trailer park, the campground reopened recently to tourists wanting to take advantage of the nature trails, bird watching, and fishing.

"We just opened back up the camp ground area the 23rd of April," said Park Ranger Pam Pierce. "So we've put the word out but it may be the people from other parts of the country don't know that we're back open."

There are very few campers now but park officials say the real test will be how many people show up this winter. Before Katrina they say this place was packed with snowbirds.

Pierce said, "Because this is our first season since the storm that we were open to the public so we're anxious to see. A lot of our old timers come through and you tell them 'Spread the word.' Campers is a close nit world and they run into each other all over the country and the pass the word."

This was the Appersons second trip here in the last few months. It's an experience they want more people to share.

"I think word of mouth," said Trish Apperson. "Letting people know that things are coming and the local restaurants are opening and the tourist attractions are here. Not just the casinos, but other places too."

Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs offers discounts at its campsites for senior citizens. Rangers say that's helps attract a large portion of the snow bird crowd.