Pascagoula River is a South Mississippi treasure - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula River is a South Mississippi treasure

The Pascagoula River is the largest, free-flowing river system in the lower 48 states. That means it's free of dams, locks and levees. (Photo source: WLOX) The Pascagoula River is the largest, free-flowing river system in the lower 48 states. That means it's free of dams, locks and levees. (Photo source: WLOX)
Generations of South Mississippi families have long enjoyed it for fishing, hunting and boating. (Photo source: WLOX) Generations of South Mississippi families have long enjoyed it for fishing, hunting and boating. (Photo source: WLOX)
Today, a growing number of tourists, are also discovering the natural beauty of the Pascagoula River. (Photo source: WLOX) Today, a growing number of tourists, are also discovering the natural beauty of the Pascagoula River. (Photo source: WLOX)
Engaged citizens and like minded groups have worked tirelessly to ensure the river's preservation and protection. (Photo source: WLOX) Engaged citizens and like minded groups have worked tirelessly to ensure the river's preservation and protection. (Photo source: WLOX)
"Probably the best and highest use for the river now is eco tourism... encouraging people to come, and enjoy it, and learn about it," said Dr. Tom Singley, with the Pascagoula River Basin Alliance. (Photo source: WLOX) "Probably the best and highest use for the river now is eco tourism... encouraging people to come, and enjoy it, and learn about it," said Dr. Tom Singley, with the Pascagoula River Basin Alliance. (Photo source: WLOX)
MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) -

Generations of South Mississippi families have long enjoyed it for fishing, hunting and boating. Today, a growing number of tourists, are also discovering the natural beauty of the Pascagoula River. It is the largest, free-flowing river system in the lower 48 states. That simply means the Pascagoula River is free of dams, locks and levees.

The river meanders where it pleases; the watershed changing only as Mother Nature dictates.

"You talk about its natural history. It's here. We talk about the diversity of life, in general. What we commonly refer to as bio diversity. Well the bio diversity of this river is huge. It's as good as it gets," said Dr. Mark LaSalle, Director of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.

"And that from a natural history perspective and from Audubon's perspective and all of our partners, is a cool thing! And that's what we engage people around. Come see a great place that has great bio diversity," he said.

This river is a conservation success story. Engaged citizens and like minded groups worked tirelessly to ensure the river's preservation and protection.

"We have to continue to show people, yes it's in conservation, but you know what? The threats can still be there. You never, you're never going to end this story. And that's the exciting part. That's a cool history, but you can be part of the next chapter of maintaining and promoting this wonderful river," says Dr. LaSalle.

"Probably the best and highest use for the river now is eco tourism. Keeping it the way it is generally and allowing people and encouraging people to come and enjoy it. And learn about it," said Dr. Tom Singley, with the Pascagoula River Basin Alliance.

Dr. Singley lives along the river and has long enjoyed the recreational opportunities it affords. The Moss Point resident enjoys kayaking the river with his grand sons, teaching them the same love and respect for the waterway. He says those who enjoy and appreciate the river, need to be ever vigilant against threats that could bring harm.

"Using large amounts of water from the river to help wash out the Richton salt dome for nuclear waste, which we think hopefully has gone away again. All of these risks just continually arise," said Dr. Singley.

"I think the biggest threat is things from the edges. Well, we'll put something in here that might change the watershed a little on the edges and a little one here, a little one here and it doesn't matter much right? But it adds up. So the basic threat that's out there is we really need to be very careful how we develop areas in and around within the basin, so that we don't impact the water flow and the watershed itself," said Dr. LaSalle.

Dr. LaSalle and others are convinced that education and awareness about this South Mississippi treasure, will add numbers to the growing army of those people willing to stand up and fight for this cherished natural resource and inviting getaway.

"That's the key. And that's one of the pushes the Pascagoula River basin alliance is into, and that is to educate people. Be an educational organization to inform people what we have here. So many people are not even aware of this," said Dr. Singley.

"It's a place of tranquility for those of us that are outdoors people, or outdoor recreational people or just outdoorsmen. You get on the river and you just can't help but relax. You know. And it's just a place of comfort. It's like sitting in a good ole comfy chair. The stress just goes away. Because you're in, you're on your river," said Dr. LaSalle.

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