Round Island Marsh Restoration Program kicks off this week

Round Island Marsh Restoration Program kicks off this week

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - This week, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality will work together to start moving millions of cubic yards of dredge material to construct a berm in the Round Island Coastal Preserve in Pascagoula.

It's all part of an $8 million project funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's Gulf Environment Benefit Fund to restore the Round Island Marsh.

Robbie Wilbur, communications director for MDEQ, said four to five million cubic yards of dredge material will be removed from the Pascagoula Channel, and that material will be used to create around 200 acres of sand beach and marsh habitat in the preserve.

"This type of marsh will provide many benefits to Mississippi and the Gulf. Salt marshes can function as water and air purifiers, as well as significantly add to the food chain by producing biomass," said Gary Rikard, MDEQ Executive Director." "From a fish and wildlife perspective, the marsh will be an ideal habitat for many aquatic species, which should please fishermen.  Also, migratory birds and shorebirds will be able to use it for nesting and feeding.  Much like the barrier islands, the increased acreage adjacent to Round Island will also help to mitigate the effect of future storms on Mississippi's mainland."

The berm project is expected to be completed by August, but DMR Marine Patrol Chief Keith Davis said boaters should use caution in the area while the work is going on.

"As the weather gets warmer, more people will be out on the water in boats, kayaks and other watercraft," Davis. "We are asking that boaters be especially vigilant in the area near Round Island during this project. There will be more equipment and people working there; so boaters need to be mindful of that and, if possible, choose another area for boating."

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