PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - It's a project showing pride in Pascagoula. Volunteers spent the morning Friday planting trees and shrubs and flowers at a popular city park. The effort is designed to attract more birds and visitors.
Volunteers from Mississippi Power and several community organizations are making I.G. Levy Park a bit greener. New trees and shrubs and flowers planted around the Scranton Nature Center will attract more birds and wildlife.
"We have a five star grant with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. And that is, we are creating an urban forest here at I.G. Levy Park. So it's going to be a one acre area. We have native plants and trees that are being planted today," said Parks & Recreation Director Darcie Crew.
Mississippi Power volunteer Julius Hooks is helping plant a red maple.
"The trees and plants that we're planting, I think it's going to be a great asset to the Gulf Coast," he said.
The emphasis with this urban forest is on native plants.
"That's actually good," said Dr. Mark LaSalle, as he helped hold a sapling in place. "I'm going to hold him straight, cause these things and I'm going to bend him in the wind a little bit."
"It's things people see in their backyards all the time. They just don't realize how important they are to birds and wildlife. I mean we're going to see a lot more birds and wildlife move into this park because of the things we're planting today," said LaSalle, who directs the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.
And that will lead to more visitors; birders and nature lovers, the so-called eco-tourism niche.
"We are on the birding trail, as many of you already know, and this is exciting to have a new park to our birding trail in Pascagoula. We have volunteers out here from all over helping plant these trees and shrubs today," said Mayor Jim Blevins.
"We have a lot of programs with our Scranton Nature Center and so we're already focusing a lot on bird friendly communities and birding programs. So this adds to that," said Crew.
Along with attracting birds, and hopefully more visitors, the planting project has another benefit. The plants will help filter the rainfall, reducing runoff into the nearby lake.