JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - More than 19,000 acres of land in Jackson County are protected by the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge.
Fish and Wildlife's mission is twofold. First, is to protect the Mississippi Sandhill Crane, a critically endangered species.
"There are only 110 left in the world. The second part of our mission is to protect the habitat that the crane calls home, which is the wet pine savannah habitat," said Refuge Ranger Melissa Perez.
Both missions are full time jobs.
The wet pine savannah is unique to this part of the world. Because the crane is protected, you will almost never actually see one of the birds on the refuge. The visitor center tells the story through artwork, photographs and interactive displays.
The federal agency wants to make sure the Sandhill Crane survives so future generations can appreciate the importance of managing the environment and saving this beautiful creature.
"We want our children and grand children to be able to come out here and see these beautiful birds. It's a Gulf Coast original. There is only one place on earth to see this, and that is here in Jackson County, MS," Perez said.
The visitor center is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge is located on Highway 61 just north of the interstate in Jackson County.