Preserving Mother Nature In Hancock County

The Nature Conservancy is working to restore and preserve a large piece of land in Hancock County. The group purchased Mike's Island last year. The Island adjoins the Pearl River near Stennis Space Center. The Conservancy dedicated its new property Monday and announced big plans for restoring it to its original state.

The natural scenic beauty found along Mike's River is what the Nature Conservancy plans to protect and preserve for future generations. " It's a type of conservation project that has effects beyond it's immediate boundaries." Said Nature Conservancy's George Ramseur. The Conservancy purchased 27-hundred acres on Mike's Island from a Louisiana Logging Company. Ramseur said "The land itself is pretty damaged it was timbered about 3 times in the last 30 years and that was probably 2 times too many." He says all of the native trees good for the area were harvested..leaving room for the Chinese Tallow tree better known as the Popcorn tree to move in. " People like them as ornamental trees in their yards but in a situation like this their very highly invasive they basically take over completely and don't let the native trees all the hard woods and that sort of thing come back in." Rotting popcorn trees cause water pollution and pose a threat to fish habitats.

The Nature Conservancy will use several different methods to irradiate the trees in a major restoration project. Mike's Island is also the area where the Navy plans to create a live fire training range for the Navy Seals and its special forces boat unit. " There working to buy this because it is pristine because they need environments to train in they're not going to come in here and clear cut it. The need places that look like swamps to train in so their going to leave it looking like a swamp. In will be one more place in Hancock County that we can preserve for future generations." Said Congressman Gene Taylor .

The land purchase and restoration project is being called a community based effort with more than 15 groups and agencies involved. They include the Hancock County Board of Supervisors, the DMR and the Gulf Of Mexico Program.