Outdoor Rec Day, Birds of Prey Day this weekend at Myrtle Beach area state parks

To say spring has sprung is no joke.

The month ahead is abloom with festivals and outings to celebrate the season, and the sampling of events through Easter weekend in this article has something to whet almost anyone’s appetite to get out.

Both local state parks have special extravaganzas this Saturday, April 1, also a great time to showcase for visitors so much repairs and improvements made since Hurricane Matthew struck in eary October, closing the sites for a couple of weeks each.

At Myrtle Beach State Park, host for “Outdoor Recreation Day,” 9 a.m.-4 p.m., everyone strolling, bicycling or driving the road south from the pier shop will notice four wooden, replacement beach-access boardwalks. Walk S3 remains the link with a ramp, for ease in wheelchair access, and the other three accesses, like the four boardwalks leading to the beach on the north end, entail just a few steps to climb and descend, in traversing dunes.

Gerald Ives, the park’s manager, voiced happiness last week at nearing completion of the south beach boardwalks, with even better amenities.

“With the repairs,” Ives said, “our boardwalks will be a tremendous improvement. The repairs also allowed us to make some changes such as new plumbing and shower fixtures that we hope will better serve our guests washing off all that excess sand. We also resurfaced the shower pads to help with proper draining and make them more user friendly.”

Huntington Beach State Park will have its annual “Birds of Prey Day,” 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday April 1, also with an outdoor screening of “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” at 8 p.m. The Center for Birds of Prey, from Awendaw, again will bring some of its avian stars for flight demonstrations, 1-2 p.m.

Mike Walker, a longtime interpretive park ranger at Huntington Beach, said this third year in giving raptors their day in the sun “grew out of our old ‘Wildlife and History Day’ program” that was part of “Can-Am Days,” dating back “to the late 1990s.”

Improvements there this winter took big steps as well, as Phil Gaines, director of the S.C. State Park Service, lauded earlier this month in a weekly parks system “Point of Pride” email newsletter. Since the hurricane destroyed the 350-foot-long raised boardwalk for the North Beach access, the Friends of Huntington Beach State Park helped in arranging a new concrete sidewalk replacement, which will cut down in long-term maintenance costs, averting any need to replace wood boards and hammer in new nails.

Also, the hurricane-damaged walkway along the south side of the causeway, on Mullet Pond – with its freshwater array of wildlife – has been restored, also for prime alligator viewing as the weather warms up.

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