Audubon Society Dedicates Pascagoula River Center - - The News for South Mississippi

Audubon Society Dedicates Pascagoula River Center

"It's a very unique river system. It's a large river system. There's now over 170,000 acres protected here on the river," said Benny McCoy, as he and brother Lynn directed a boat tour along the lower Pascagoula River system.

The McCoy brothers operate a tour boat business that shows off the beauty of Pascagoula River. They gave Audubon Society members and supporters a tour of the river and joined them in dedicating a new nature center on Bennett Bayou.

Mark LaSalle is director of the new center.

"Audubon Centers are about education. It's about connecting people with nature. And of course we have this wonderful resource called the Pascagoula River. It's the jewel in the crown of all our resources here in South Mississippi," he said.

A modest home on the waterfront property will initially serve as headquarters. Future plans include an outdoor amphitheater, nature trails and waterfront boardwalk.

"We hope to grow this Moss Point waterfront greenway by acquiring additional lands to add and this will only enhance the programs that Audubon is trying to develop in this area," said Judy Steckler, director of the Land Trust which purchased the property for the center.

Audubon Society members say the emphasis on education and conservation will be aimed at the younger generation.

"We're trying to get our children to both understand and fall in love with the natural world," said the Audubon Society's Bill McQuillkan.

Young people, like the girl who helped raise the Audubon flag, now have a special place to understand, appreciate and enjoy all the Pascagoula River has to offer.

"With so many young people thinking you can only have fun with something that involves electronics, it's really nice to show them a natural alternative," said Moss Point Mayor Xavier Bishop.

Along with plans for the outdoor amphitheater and interpretive center, there will also be a restoration of the wetlands and a rebuilding of the boat slip.

By Steve Phillips

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