JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A public-private partnership in Jackson County is helping Mother Nature restore an island that time and tides have almost completely washed away. When the job is done, Round Island will have a new look and a new purpose.
As you approach the island three miles south of Pascagoula, it's a sliver of its former self. It's just 25 acres, instead of the 230 acres the island was 100 years ago.
Thanks to an expansion project at VT Halter Marine, the island is being born again. A shallow bowl is being created now, and dredged material from the shipyard expansion will be barged in to rebuild the island.
The program is being administered by the DMR. It can't happen soon enough. George Ramseur is the DMR project manager.
"It's important for habitat and culture and recreation and fisheries. This is just part of thousands of acres we have to be able to restore on the Mississippi coast," Ramseur explained.
What's good for VT Halter is good for the island. Walker Foster is a vice-president at VT Halter.
"We paid for this part, the two dykes to be built. Then we have further plans for our expansion and additional capital investments in the shipyard," Foster said.
Now some people may wonder why VT Halter would want to get involved in an environmental project like this, rebuilding an island basically from scratch. Well, for company executives, the decision to help was an easy one to make, according to Foster.
"Most of the people in our company are fishermen, they're hunters, they enjoy the outdoors," Foster said. "They're all from the Gulf Coast and they saw what was going on here, and they saw the need to restore Round Island and make a good project out of this."
Even with a restored island, the job won't be finished, Ramseur said.
"We want to begin planting marsh in the interior part and then probably trees and shrubs in the top of the sand dyke here, so that will be slash pine and coastal shrubs."
He added that anyway you look at it, this project is a good deal.
"There's no tax money being spent here, but Mississippi at the same time gets 70 acres of new island."
The restoration project on the island should be finished by the end of November.