MOSS POINT, MS (WLOX) - A Jackson County nature center still challenged to reach a full budget is now asking local governments to help out.
"We opened this new center 18 months ago and we want to be that draw for people to come see nature on one last free-flowing river," said Mark LaSalle, Director of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.
LaSalle said last year alone they brought in nearly 8,000 visitors to explore the various programs.
"You can learn about birds or plants or stargazing. It's a draw, but it's also for the people of this area," said visitor Angel Blackledge.
LaSalle said they're looking to use that to bring in even more people this year. But they're facing a hurdle - financing.
"We want to be sustainable. I mean, we have a beautiful new building and you can get funds to build a building, but you have to keep it open. So we want to broaden our ability to have as many different people to help support us as possible," LaSalle said.
So they're reaching out to cities across the coast asking for a bit of help.
"We wanted to formally ask them, hey can you help us with an annual contribution?" LaSalle said.
A contribution of just $1,000 would support programming and activities at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center.
LaSalle considers the center nature-based economic development. He said his selling point for the cities is that it will promote ways to preserve the natural environment.
"But it's every bit as important to have local folks come here and know about their wonderful river and the natural resources across the coast, because we have to get them to help us protect that resource so we can draw in the nature tourists," LaSalle said.
His goal is to use the center as a beacon to show that South Mississippi is invested in its natural habitats.