IP donates $1 million for coastal preservation

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It was a very big check, with a very big amount written on it. A $1 million donation from the IP Casino Resort to the Secretary of State's office and the Nature Conservancy.

The money will be used to buy more property along the coast to preserve, like the pristine land found on Deer Island.  And Jim Murrian with the Nature Conservancy said the timing is right.

"Landowners are looking for different options and we've got money now, so it's a good time to have these resources to work."

Several elected officials were on hand as the announcement was made Wednesday. Every one was proud of this moment, saying in the year of the oil spill, this good news was hard to beat.

The donation is a continuing effort by IP to be involved in coastal life.  Jon Lucas is the general manager of the casino.

"As you know, over the last five years, we have continued to give back to the community. And it's something that we're dedicated to doing and we believe strongly in giving back to the communities that serve us."

What this program means is that up to 2,000 acres in all three coastal counties will be purchased with the money, and that land will be saved for the public use in perpetuity. It will never see development.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann jumped at the opportunity to work with IP.

"We've constantly taken the position that we wanted to expand the coastal preserve tidelands owned by the state of Mississippi and put them in places for perpetuity. And we knew that they had a good donative intent, and so we contracted them and worked out this gift arrangement," Hosemann said.

And unlike most gifts that quickly grow old, this one will continue to offer the natural beauty of the coast for generations to come.

The Nature Conservancy is currently in negotiations with several landowners to buy their properties and add them to the coastal preserve. The entire process will take months to complete.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.