HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Infinity Science Center in Hancock County is about to open a new, educational opportunity for its visitors. The new outdoor attraction shifts the focus from space exploration to nature and the natural beauty found in South Mississippi.
The integrated natural resources area, as it's called, brings back the natural setting found here before NASA and Stennis Space Center moved to the area in the 1960s.
"Our goal here is to help people understand these purposes can co-exist. We can go build rocket engines and take care of the environment," said John Wilson, Executive Director of the Infinity Science Center.
Three different bodies of water have been created there. Visitors will be able to explore them by taking a stroll along 1,400 feet of boardwalk.
Wilson said, "They will see what's going on in the water below. And on any given day that could range from otters swimming, to perhaps an alligator, to geese, to a snowy egret. The idea is to get people up close and personal."
A display of several railroad timbers creates what's called the old Dummie-line railroad beds. They will give visitors a history lesson.
"Those go back to the late 1800s and early 1900s when timber was being hauled out of this area up to Log-Town to board a ship. So those railroad timbers is what helped get the timber out of the woods," explained Wilson.
The project is being made possible through $1.3 million in state funds from the BP settlement. The hope is to attract more people off of Interstate 10.
"In 2014, we had about 54,000 visitors. Last year in 2015 we finished with about 65,000 and we've set a goal for about 75,000 for the next year close to 80,000," Wilson said. "So it's a growing organization. We hope we have a good product here that people are interested in seeing because the numbers are coming up."
The integrated natural resources area is expected to be ready to make its debut to the public this spring.