SuperTalk Mississippi

New Tact of Protected MS Land Could Rival Great Smoky Mountain Park

JACKSON, Miss. – The Nature Conservancy today announced the acquisition of 2,100 acres along the Leaf and Pascagoula Rivers in the George and Greene County region of the Pascagoula River Basin, connecting over 450,000 contiguous acres between the Desoto National Forest and the Pascagoula Wildlife Management Area, marking the largest tract of contiguous protected lands in Mississippi.

Working closely with partners, including the private landowners, Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Forest Legacy Program, The Nature Conservancy’s goal is to preserve the land to benefit the people, forests, wildlife, and waters of the Pascagoula River Basin. The Nature Conservancy will work with the Mississippi Forestry Commission to establish a new state forest with this acquisition.

“This is an incredible achievement and we’re humbled by the opportunity to continue to deepen our conservation roots in this area,” said Alex Littlejohn, associate state director of The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi. “We’ve been committed to conserving and restoring land along the Pascagoula for over 40 years, having helped directly conserve over 70,000 acres along the river alone. To now have the ability to connect over 450,000 acres of conserved lands with this acquisition is exciting to say the least.  Some of my greatest childhood memories growing up in Mississippi was spending time with my father in a duck blind, a deer stand, or fishing in the river. It’s great to know that our conservation efforts will help ensure that people from this area and across the southeast have an opportunity to continue enjoying the many fish and wildlife resources and benefits the river provides. Mississippi should be proud; this is a true conservation legacy.”

“We are pleased to protect this working forest through MFC’s Forest Legacy program and look forward to working with TNC as stewards of this key parcel in the Pascagoula River watershed. This is a true demonstration of a successful conservation partnership between our state, non-profits and private landowners,” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester. “I hope it inspires other collaborations with our agency for forest conservation.”

Funding for the project will be through the Forest Legacy Program, a USDA Forest Service Program in partnership with the Mississippi Forestry Commission that helps support local efforts to protect environmentally sensitive, privately owned forest lands threatened by conversion to non-forest use through land acquisition and conservation easements.

TNC has had a long and successful history conserving lands within the Pascagoula River watershed stretching back to 1974.  Along with their partners, the Conservancy has helped conserve an 80-mile-long forested corridor of public and private conservation lands from the river’s headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico.  This partnership has resulted in the protection of over 70,000 acres within the Pascagoula floodplain.

With a significant focus of conservation resources within the greater Pascagoula watershed, to-date nearly 1 million acres are now under conservation management as part of National Forests, Camp Shelby, state natural areas and TNC preserves. These acres include important wildlife habitats like cypress-tupelo and bottomland hardwood forests that support 327 species of birds and 119 species of fish. Due to these protection efforts, the Pascagoula River remains the largest undammed river by volume in the lower 48 states.

“This day has been a long time coming and we thank the landowners for their support.  We are also very grateful to Mississippi Forestry Commission and the Forest Legacy Program for their support of our efforts and long term vision for this river,” said Littlejohn.

Press Release

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