Highway Department Partners With Nature Conservancy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Highway Department Partners With Nature Conservancy

A South Mississippi nature preserve got a big boost from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

M-DOT gave "The Nature Conservancy" nearly nine million dollars to mitigate the damage of wetlands that might be destroyed during road building.

Much of the money will be invested in the Charles Deaton nature preserve in George and Greene counties.

The environmental effort is designed to protect natural habitats for the enjoyment of future generations.

"It's pretty hard for these exotic species to get established because there's just not enough light and not enough space for them. They're competing too much for nutrients."

A biologist introduces visitors to the diversity of eco systems within the 33 hundred acre Charles Deaton preserve. The Nature Conservancy purchased the site two years ago. Now, the state highway department will become a partner in preservation.

M-DOT paid nearly nine million dollars to the Nature Conservancy's wetlands mitigation bank.

Robbie Fisher is president of The Nature Conservancy of Mississippi.

"What M-DOT is doing by mitigating with the Nature Conservancy's mitigation bank here is they are offsetting wetland impacts that occur with the building of roads and widening of roads and things of that nature."

The money will be used to protect and preserve this natural habitat for future generations. The Southern District Highway Commissioner says this South Mississippi preserve is the perfect spot for such an investment.

"What has been called the most pristine area of bottom land hardwoods that exist in the United States. We have a true treasure here in George and Greene county," said Commissioner Wayne Brown.

Much of the beauty of the Deaton Preserve is that there are so many distinct and diverse environments. Take a walk through this river bottom swamp and it feels like you're in another world.

Throughout it's rich diversity the preserve invites exploration. It is a bird watcher's paradise. And a place where visitors can stroll past catalpa blooms or get a close up look at a pear cactus flower.

"We're partnering with others to preserve important and significant natural areas for future generations of Mississippians. So, it's very exciting work," Fisher said.

By Steve Phillips

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