Saturday events spotlight Mother Nature's beauty in Moss Point - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Saturday events spotlight Mother Nature's beauty in Moss Point

(Photo source: www.grandbaynerr.org) (Photo source: www.grandbaynerr.org)
MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) -

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - Saturday is National Estuaries Day—a celebration of the magical places where rivers meet the sea—and National Public Lands Day—the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands American's enjoy.

In celebration of National Estuaries Day, the Department of Marine Resources' (DMR) Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and the Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge are partnering to host a special day of events for the public—including the dedication of the newly lengthened Oak Grove Birding Trail, a Popcorn Pull (a volunteer effort to help clear the trail area of invasive popcorn trees), tours of our newly designated GOLD LEED Certified, sustainable interpretive Coastal Resources Center, kayak tours of Bayou Heron, presentations including an interactive, live Web broadcast between the Reserve and the South Slough NERR in Oregon.

The day's festivities will include the following schedule:

8 a.m.: Dedication of Oak Grove Birding Trail
Location: Oak Grove Birding Trail on Bayou Heron Road

8:30-10 a.m.: Popcorn Pull — volunteers are needed to help pull up invasive popcorn trees from the trail. Participants are encouraged to bring gloves and wear long sleeves and close-toed shoes.
Location: Oak Grove Birding Trail on Bayou Heron Road

10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Free kayak tours of Bayou Heron. Children under 12 years old must supply their own life jackets. First come, first serve.
Location: Pavilion at end of Bayou Heron Road

10 a.m.-1 p.m.: Free guided tours of the Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center.
Location: 6005 Bayou Heron Road, Moss Point, MS

10:30-11 a.m.: Presentation on "The Importance of Estuaries" by David Ruple.
Location: Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center—Large Classroom

1:30-2:30 p.m.: Live Web cast between the Grand Bay Reserve and the South Slough Reserve in Oregon on the importance of Mississippi's estuaries and the response of the Reserve to the BP oil spill.
Location: Grand Bay Coastal Resources Center—Large Classroom

National Estuaries Day began in 1988 as part of Coast Weeks to educate the public on the importance of estuaries and the need to protect them. The annual event has matured into a national campaign with festivities across the country. To learn more about National Estuaries Day or estuaries in general, visit www.estuaries.gov.

Here are a few other ways residents and visitors can discover the joys and recreational benefits of Mississippi's estuaries on National Estuaries Day:

• Take a walk in or paddle through one of Mississippi's Coastal Preserves (www.dmr.ms.gov/Coastal-Ecology/Preserves/properties/preserves-properties.htm) or the Grand Bay NERR (www.grandbaynerr.org).

• Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle down one of our coastal streams.

• Take a child fishing or beachcombing in or along our coastal waters. Don't forget your fishing license!

• Boat out to one of our nearshore or barrier islands.

• Enjoy a sunrise or sunset walk along the beach.

• Go birding along the water's edge.

The Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is located near the community of Pecan in southeast Jackson County and includes wetlands and waterways from Bang's Lake to the Alabama state line. A major goal of the reserve is to provide for research coordination and dissemination of scientific data to the community and local decision-makers to provide sound information on which to base management decisions.

The 18,000-acre reserve is home to several rare plant and animal species and serves as an essential nursery habitat for numerous important commercial and recreational fish species. The Reserve is managed through state-federal partnership between the DMR and its local partners: Mississippi Secretary of State's Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi State University, The Nature Conservancy, The University of Southern Mississippi and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Reserve's new Coastal Resources Center, located at 6005 Bayou Heron Road near Moss Point, MS, is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Call (228) 475-7047 for more information and detailed travel directions, or visit www.grandbaynerr.org.

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