BP Cat Island purchase in best interest says owner

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Cat Island is one of the more unique islands in the Mississippi Barrier Islands.  Its "T" shape is formed by colliding currents in the Gulf of Mexico.

Land ownership on the island is a mix of private and federal. While most of the land is under control of the Gulf Island National Seashore, BP now claims the stretch of beach on the eastern side.

A company spokesperson confirmed that the land was purchased from the Boddie family last week.  The Boddie family has owned a large chunk of Cat Island for some time.  George Boddie said the purchase was done to benefit the Island.

"The family did not sell out to the casinos 15 years ago, and we would not have gotten into this now if it wasn't in the best interest of the island and everyone who loves it," said Boddie.

While Boddie feels the purchase could push forward island restoration, not everyone agrees.

"I thought it was bitter sweet. Right now, it's bitter because we don't know what the sweet is going to be," said Nonnie DeBardeleben of the Gulf Islands Conservancy.

The Gulf Island Conservancy was formed years ago to look after issues that surround the barrier island and Mississippi's beaches.

Rumors have swirled that BP may turn the land back over to the park service, but nothing has been confirmed.

"It's not clear when and if it's going to be turned around and donated to the state and the national seashore," said DeBardeleben.  "It would be wonderful if the island is apart of the state or the national seashore. It can be protected better."

According to Boddie,  BP purchased the strip of island that was most impacted by the oil spill.

"The purchase is in keeping with BP's commitment to preserve and protect the environment, ecology, and historical significance of the Mississippi barrier islands for future generations," said BP spokesperson Ray Melick.

Melick says there are no immediate plans for the island, but buying the land does make it easier to continue clean up.

The Boddie family still owns several hundred acres of land, and the interior of the island is still privately owned by others.

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