PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Soon, South Mississippians and tourists will have a new place to learn and explore nature on the Coast. Construction began on the $2.3 million Pascagoula River Audubon Center late last year in downtown Moss Point. Nature lovers are eagerly awaiting opening day.
Moss Point teen Terranie Packer said her favorite spot to visit is the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, because it feeds her passion for wildlife and the environment.
"I have been coming to the Pascagoula Audubon Center as long as I can remember. I was six or seven and it means so much to me because I have seen it grow as a place that is really interested in science and nature," said Terranie.
Terranie and her friend, Amelia Lawrence, said to see a bigger, better facility now taking shape is exciting.
"The old one is a little run down, but people don't understand how much time and effort was put in that place. The people here care so much about the environment, and I think the new place fosters their idea," said Terranie.
"They are going to have a playground here that will interest young children, and that is important because then they would be more environmentally interested when they are older," said Amelia.
Director Dr. Mark LaSalle said the idea for this project came about in 2004. Construction on the nature center, which sits on 10 acres, is more than halfway complete.
"It is about promoting what we know to be one of the last great wild places, really, in the United States, and that is the Pascagoula River and the nature tourism that brings people to see it," said LaSalle.
LaSalle said although it took a long road to get here, it was worth it. Once the facility opens, he said his team will not just educate people, but take them on a nature journey they will never forget.
"The entire grounds is being set up as a native botanical garden, so you can learn about the native plants and when you get inside the building, we interpret everything on river, the birds, the fish, the wildlife that makes this river special. It becomes a gateway, and we want people to come here and get excited about nature," said LaSalle.
LaSalle expects to cut the ribbon on the new nature center in October.