MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - A new environmental education and research center was dedicated in Jackson County on Monday.
The Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center is located near the Mississippi-Alabama state line. Along with providing lab and classroom space for environmental research and education, the building itself is "extremely green."
The new center is a welcome addition to the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Before the modern building appeared, researchers made do with far less.
"They've operated from everything from old houses to double wide trailers to just about tents in the yard, and have done an outstanding job to bring this NERR to where it is today," said DMR Executive Director, Dr. William Walker, who served as host at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The 20,000 square foot building includes a large public education area, which focuses on the unique coastal environment. Classrooms and labs provide learning and research opportunities for visiting scientists and students.
"Now what we're wanting to do is get the public to see what we have out here and have the researchers and educators make use of our facilities," said Reserve Manager David Ruple.
The "sustainable development" building is ultra green. An abundance of windows throughout the center provides natural lighting. A cistern system collects rainfall which is used to flush the toilets.
"The cisterns, if they were full, we could go about three months without rainfall. And that would be enough water for us to use," said one of the center employees, as she gave a tour of the building.
The research work will provide valuable information for helping address a host of environmental concerns, such as rising sea levels.
Greg Siekaniec is an assistant director with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"We'll be on the front line of helping make decisions or helping gain important research information that will allow much more of a global decision to be made," he said.
As guests took shelter from the rain, the ribbon was cut quickly.
No one is more proud than Clyde Brown, a native of the Pecan community, who worked tirelessly on this project for years.
"I have been looking forward to that for a long time," said the smiling Mr. Brown. "Santa Claus was good to me. He came early today."
The public is invited to visit the new Grand Bay Resource Center, located on Bayou Herron Road in Moss Point. The interpretive area is open Tuesday through Saturday from nine until three.