Loss Of Tidelands Grants Could Dry Up Marine Programs

A recent tidelands grant will equal a new addition on the grounds of Beauvoir.

"Our latest tidelands grant deals with providing public access to our Oyster Bayou and Bayhead Swamp area. This will be providing a new walkway on top of a new weir, which we'll be constructing out here on the bayou. This walkway will provide a very rapid access to the area where our new boardwalk is located. And we feel that this is going to greatly enhance the site, as well as increase the water treatment of all the water that is drained through west Biloxi," said Beauvoir director Patrick Hotard.

This type of project would be difficult to make a reality if lawmakers take away tidelands funds, which were established ten years ago to help offset the impact of development in areas like the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

"The tidelands grants are a very key part of our community for the coastal area in helping to get a lot of these small to medium size projects completed and finished," said Hotard.

Dianne Hunt agrees. She's the president of the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society.

"I don't think it's very good idea because the Gulf Coast is not only the most environmentally sensitive area, it's also one of the most biologically diverse areas in the nation. We have most of our development going on in the state right here on the Gulf Coast at this time," said Hunt.

WRANPS depends on these grants to fund educational programs and new projects.

These grants provide the basic needs for special projects all along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and many who benefit from these grants say if that's taken away, marine life wouldn't be the only thing that suffers - the state of Mississippi will lose out as well.

The Tidelands Trust Fund program is made up of funds taken from the lease rentals of tidelands and submerged lands.