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El Capitan, Refugio State Park Closures Extended

Campgrounds, day-use areas have been shut down since May 19 Refugio oil spill; status for busy July 4 weekend still unknown

The May 19 oil spill was discovered near Refugio State Beach which, along with El Capitan State Beach, has been closed since the spill, with no visitors during the typically-busy Memorial Day weekend. Its campgrounds could still be empty for the Fourth of July weekend.
The May 19 oil spill was discovered near Refugio State Beach which, along with El Capitan State Beach, has been closed since the spill, with no visitors during the typically-busy Memorial Day weekend. Its campgrounds could still be empty for the Fourth of July weekend.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo )

Refugio and El Capitan State Beach Park campgrounds will remain closed until at least June 25 as oil spill clean-up operations continue in the area, officials announced Thursday.

Both parks in southern Santa Barbara County are closed to the public in an effort to expedite clean-up along the coastline following the May 19 oil spill in the area that dumped up to 101,000 gallons of crude oil onto the coastline and into the Pacific Ocean.

The campgrounds are being used as staging areas for equipment and in addition to day-use closures, camping reservations have been canceled at those two locations. 

Officials have been regularly pushing back the opening date for the parks as recovery effort continue. Campers with reservations during the closures will be provided a full refund through Reserve America.

Whether the campgrounds will be open for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday remains an open question. 

Eric Hjelstrom, the state parks superintendent for these two parks, couldn't say whether the park would reopen by that time, but did say that officials are monitoring the progress of the cleanup every Thursday.

Oil spill clean-up equipment lines the picnic areas at Refugio State Beach, which has been closed to the public since the May 19 spill coated its shoreline with crude oil. (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

No other beaches have been closed in Santa Barbara County since the spill, but clean-up crews have been dispatched to beaches in Goleta as well as northern Ventura County. 

Visitors wanting to find alternative overnight camping opportunities can contact a Reserve America representative at 1.800.444.7275 to locate campgrounds nearby.

To find out which beaches are open for day use in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, visitors can call 805.585.1850.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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