Pascagoula River a real treasure

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - The Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point is celebrating the success of educating people about the importance of that waterway. A four year grant from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program paid for the outreach.

The educators at the center are busy teaching people about the history,  the beauty and the potential of the Pascagoula River.

"There he is. He's high. You know what he's doing? Remember that tree I showed you earlier with all the seeds? Cat birds love em!" said an animated Dr. Mark Lasalle, urging his river tour guests to check out the trees.

Dr. Lasalle's enthusiasm about the Pascagoula River is contagious. Supporters of the CIAP program enjoyed an afternoon trip on the waterway. The Pascagoula River is a birders paradise.

"Boy that is like a pink tail. There's just a little bit of red in it," said the Audubon Center director, spying a red tailed hawk.

That hawk gets the binoculars pointing.  So does this osprey, with a fish in his claws.

Benny McCoy grew up on this river and now takes visitors on boat tours. He shared the story about a baby osprey he nicknamed.

"He would always bob his head back and forth. And he would never be still. So, I nicknamed him Elvis, cause he would never be still," said a smiling McCoy.

The river is busy with fishermen on this beautiful Friday afternoon. The Pascagoula offers multiple recreational opportunities. Those most familiar with the river say its the perfect place to attract eco-tourism visitors.

"It's a big part of the push for nature tourism or eco tourism. It can be a huge part of our economic development strategy here in South Mississippi, because it's wild. Because it has all that bio diversity to attract visitors," said Dr. Lasalle.

He said one unexpected benefit from the BP oil spill is the impact it had on people's attitudes about environmental protection and awareness.

"The oil spill actually helped everyone focus on the nature around them and how fragile it can be and how we have to do everything to protect it," he said.

More and more people are discovering the wonders of this waterway.

"The scientific community recognizes it. And certainly we need to recognize it so we can promote it and use it wisely," said Dr. Lasalle.

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