State conservation footprint rivals Smokies

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This is an exciting time to be a part of the Mississippi outdoor family as the Magnolia State now boasts a conservation footprint that rivals the Great Smoky Mountains. The Nature Conservancy recently acquired 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 longleaf pines of Desoto National Forest and cypress-tupelo river bottoms of the Pascagoula River Wildlife Management Area. This now marks the largest tract of contiguous protected lands in Mississippi.

A commission will establish this as a new state forest through the Forest Legacy program.

Some of my greatest childhood memories growing up in Mississippi were 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.

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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 habitat such as cypress-tupelo and bottomland hardwood forests that support more than 300 species of birds and more than 100 species of fish. Due to these protection efforts, the Pascagoula River remains the largest undammed river by volume in the lower 48 states.

TNC values the beauty and importance of Mississippi’s natural treasures, and we work to ensure that those treasures will be enjoyed by future generations through our conservation efforts. In Mississippi, The Conservancy has conserved over 140,000 acres.  This work takes a dedicated team of biologists, engineers, foresters, and volunteers who work to make a lasting difference for all Mississippians who enjoy hunting, fishing, or just being outdoors.

If you would like to know more about The Nature Conservancy efforts in Mississippi, please visit our website at

Alex Littlejohn

Associate State Director

The Nature Conservancy