State Plans To Preserve Deer Island - - The News for South Mississippi

State Plans To Preserve Deer Island

It has survived centuries of hurricanes, Native American settlements and ill-fated development plans. Now, Deer Island is about to be bought by the state of Mississippi.

A combination of federal and state funding will ensure future preservation of the Biloxi barrier island. The ever-changing island features a unique mix of history and habitat.

"I think the island has a mystique about it that attracts people. And as young kids, we came to the island," said coast historian, Edmond Boudreaux.

Boudreaux joined us for a skiff ride to Deer Island. The Biloxi native fondly recalls swimming to the island as a youngster.

"Fishing, swimming - we used to get off the Tradewinds pier, which was a hotel that was here, and swim to a buoy in the middle of the channel. And then swim from the buoy to the island. And then spend a little time on the island and then swim back."

The habitat is similar to other barrier islands. Pine trees and sea oats prevail. The view from the south beach is spectacular. Our tour guide pointed out an osprey nest.

"You can look around here and just see the natural beauty that's here. Second of all the historical significance. There's a lot of history that can be rooted out and some information gained from it," Boudreaux said.

Evidence of past settlements can be found on the island. Shards of pottery from the Mississippian Period wash along the southern shore.

"When they manufactured the pottery they put this crushed oyster shell in there to give it strength."

Walking the island gives one a sense of exploring a wilderness. But reminders of modern coastal life are nearby when you see the back of casino row.

Those pushing to purchase the island say the main goal is preservation, protecting this place from development and allowing future generations to enjoy its unique beauty.

Carelessness can quickly mar the island beauty. We found many examples, including a stack of tires in the center of the island.

"It's unfortunate that we have this litter that appears in such a pristine area. That could be kept and kept a lot better than it is today."

Boudreaux says helping preserve the natural beauty is a worthwhile investment. 

By Steve Phillips

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