Thousands of marsh plants arrived on Deer Island Friday morning.
The Department of Marnie Resources and Army Corps of Engineers spent the day preparing for a weekend planting project.
It's the next step in restoring some 50 acres of wetlands on the nearby island.
"Today's assignment is just to get the plants out on the island. It's about forty thousand plants. So it's a big job and it's a dirty job," said Jeff Clark, as he directed the unloading process.
The boat launch at Ocean Springs harbor was the staging area for this enormous planting project. DMR and the Army Corps are partners in helping restore a section of Deer Island.
"Oh, I think it's extremely important for us to not only restore part of Deer Island, but also to restore wetlands that provide so much to us in terms of ecological value and economic value. Because they're important nurseries for commercial and recreational fisheries," said Clark.
Boats delivered the marsh plants to the eastern tip of Deer Island. The area being restored is just a couple miles from the Biloxi shoreline. The 50 acres were formed by the dumping of dredge spoils. Adding plants is the next step.
"The idea is that all of this area will be covered with vegetation and look like a natural marsh land," said Clark.
Transporting the plants is only half the challenge. Saturday morning an army of volunteers will begin the planting process on Deer Island.
"And we're restoring marsh. So, not only are we restoring a part of the island, we're also restoring wetlands, which we're losing," Clark said.
Erosion claims about two acres a year on Deer Island. This planting project should help prevent that.
"It's important to get these plants down. It will stabilize the soil, the sediment there and help slow down the erosion. Hopefully, after these plants start growing and spread and fill in that area, you won't be able to tell that part of the island from the natural part of the island," he said.
The marsh plants came from nearly 700 miles away. They're grown in a nursery near Bradenton, Florida, south of Tampa.