Environmental Group Says Jackson County Counteracting Eco-Tourism Goal

The Pascagoula River is home to more than 300 species of birds. Many of those can't be found anywhere else, but South Mississippi. Environmentalists see the beauty and the bounty as a potential tourist destination.

"This is a peaceful place to come. A place where people can get back to nature. It's getting to be more and more scarce," Sierra Club Chair Brenda Songy.

Although county leaders have supported the growing eco-tourism industry, some residents say recent approval of MacLand Disposal's landfill expansion, goes against the current.

"The DEQ figures in which they track tonnage coming in from out-of-state, in-state - there's been a 70-percent increase in the out-of-state waste over the past four years. It's a disturbing trend," Mississippi Sierra Club Director Louie Miller says.

"I think it's out-dated thinking. I think it's time to move past that. I think there are ways to benefit the county economically and financially without turning to these short-sighted projects," Stewardship Committee Member Catherine Barkowitz says.

Members of the Sierra club say the county needs to find a balance between the need and profit of landfills.

They say the potential of the eco-tourism business depends on the preservation of our natural resources.

"This now exists, and the price is going up. We will become a commodity. I think we are being near-sighted not to see that," Songy adds.