$50 million marsh project underway in Hancock County - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

$50 million marsh project underway in Hancock County

Near the mouth of the East Pearl River, giant barges laden with stone are parked in a construction staging area. (Photo source: WLOX) Near the mouth of the East Pearl River, giant barges laden with stone are parked in a construction staging area. (Photo source: WLOX)
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

It's a $50 million project funded by BP restoration money. Construction began recently on a "living shoreline" project in Hancock County. The work is taking place near the mouth of the East Pearl River and the shoreline along Heron Bay.

Giant barges loaded with various sized rocks, sit in the staging area near the mouth of the river. That rock will be deployed along the shore to create a breakwater.

Halting erosion of the Hancock County marsh is the primary purpose.

“It's going to create a living shoreline for approximately 5.9 miles here on the Hancock County marsh. It's also going to create about 46 acres of sub tidal reef and 46 acres of marsh in Heron Bay,” said Marc Wyatt, director of the Office of Restoration with the Department of Environmental Quality.

This portion of the Mississippi coastline, very near the Louisiana border, is the fastest eroding section of shore in the state.

“Louisiana is sinking. Most of us know that, but it happens to be dragging Hancock County with it, or at least this western part over here. It's really exciting to see something this big starting to come out of the water,” said George Ramseur, with the Department of Marine Resources.

Preserving the valuable, productive marshland will mean ensuring a healthy nursery for all sorts of marine life that depend on this sanctuary.

“Redfish, speckled trout, shrimp, crabs, flounder. Everything has a part of its life cycle in this marsh,” said Ramseur.

Along with building the living shoreline two other phases of this $50 million project are also critical.

“On the other end, right there at the boot of Heron Bay, it's going to come behind that boot, and we're going to fill in an additional 46 acres of marsh. The other thing I mentioned was the sub tidal reef. That's a reef, essentially an oyster reef, that will be in Heron Bay for about 46 acres,” said Wyatt.

The entire project should be finished by the end of next year.

The DMR and MDEQ remind residents to stay clear of the construction zone and avoid fishing, crabbing, or boating in or around that area.

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