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The Gulf Islands National Seashore announced Monday that it would close the Fort Pickens Area to all incoming public use due to predicted winds and high surf effective Tuesday, February 23, 2016.

A mandatory evacuation of the Fort Pickens campground will occur Tuesday, with all campers expected to leave the area by 12 Noon. The Fort Pickens area will remain closed to all incoming traffic and use until further notice. Park staff will assess conditions on Thursday, February 25th. When the road reopens, the campground will be open to walk-in campers until the reservation system comes on-line again. Visitors may call the Fort Pickens Road hotline to get daily updates 850-934-2656, check the park’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GulfIslandsNPS, or check the park website at www.nps.gov/guis.

“With this weather and the associated wind and high surf, sections of the Fort Pickens Road near the Gulf are expected to over wash and become impassable due to water and sand on the road,” said Superintendent Dan Brown in a release. “The seashore is working with the Federal Highway Administration to reroute the section of Fort Pickens Road which is most frequently impacted by weather events. This section of road will be realigned in 2016 and moved north of the dunes in an effort to protect the road and eliminate these routine and recurring closures. In order to ensure the safety of visitors and staff, the Fort Pickens Road will remain closed until the park can clear the road for safe passage of vehicles.”

The Park Service will assess road conditions Thursday morning after this weather system has passed and staff has an opportunity to mitigate any hazards.

Fort Barrancas and other park areas will remain open, so that visitors may enjoy an alternate site while Fort Pickens is closed.

For additional information, contact park headquarters at (850) 934-2600 in Florida or (228) 230-4100 in Mississippi, or visit the National Seashore website at www.nps.gov/guis.

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