Online inventory gives "access" to coastal resources

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Here on the edge of the Mississippi Sound, it's no surprise that folks are drawn to the water by boating and fishing.

"It calms and relaxes you just to get away from the house," said Gulfport resident Terrance Johnson as he cast his line in off the Pass Christian city pier.

Katrina altered much of the landscape where residents and visitors could access piers or boat launches.  While many damaged piers and harbors have been restored, some are still under construction.

To help folks find available sites, the Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District has created a new tool.

"We started by updating and inventory that had been done prior to Katrina. Our main focus as we began was to assess the status of those public access sites, after the damaged caused by Katrina," said Senior Project Manager Beth Ousley.

The inventory project was funded by NOAA through the Department of Marine Resources.  Over three years, workers have created an online resource where anyone can find up to date details on any public access site in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties.

To view the interactive map, click here.

"The public is very interested in knowing where those sites are so that they can access our beautiful coastal resources," said Ousley.

"It saves gas and saves time. Why come from Gulfport to come out here to the fishing pier, when I could just fish in Gulfport if it's open," said Johnson.

For those who use piers and launches regularly, an inventory that lets them find the perfect spot makes a treasured hobby all the more enjoyable.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.