GULFPORT, Miss.- In a press conference today Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced that Mississippi had purchased 492 acres of Cat Island, previously owned by BP.
“After two centuries, Mississippi is getting its island back,” Secretary Hosemann said. “Cat Island is a special treasure because of its natural beauty and the protection it offers the Mississippi Gulf Coast. By Finalizing this acquisition, we are ensuring your grandchildren’s grandchildren will be able to enjoy this natural treasure in perpetuity.”
The deed to the “East Beach” and “Middle Spit” of Cat Island from BP Exploration and Production, Inc. is valued at approximately $13.7 million from the Boddie family in 2011.
The cost of the land transfer is being paid for by the federal Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. No state funds were used to purchase this land.
Cat Island has been a well-known recreation site for low impact activities like swimming, sunbathing, camping, hiking, fishing, and safe mooring and has been mostly untouched with modern technology.
It was discovered by the French in the late 1600s. The owners have included the National Park Service, BP, the Cuevas family, and the Boddie family, with a few landowners dating back to the the original Spanish land grant in the late 1700s.
“The acquisition of Cat Island’s eastern shore is another example of Mississippi’s commitment to preserving and restoring our most scenic and sensitive habitats. This new acreage will be added to the existing Cat Island Coastal Preserve already under the management of our agency,” said Jamie Miller, Executive Director of the Department of Marine Resources.
The state has expanded it’s ownership of the island to 718 acres since 2012.
Funding came from a settlement agreement with Mitsui-subsidiary MOEX, funds from unused bonds and Tidelands appropriation approved by State Legislature, Mississippi took on the 200 acres in the middle of Cat Island in 2013 from the Boddie Family.
A Memorandum of Agreement for Construction of the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Barrier Island Restoration Plan, Cat Island Restoration was entered into on Nov. 17, 2016 by Secretary Hosemann and the Department of the Army.