MS Environmental Experts Helping Coast Recovery

Our beaches are part of our tourism life blood, and this week their recovery is the focus of environmental experts from 24 counties around the state. The Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts is focusing on the problems coast beaches face post-Katrina. Members say they aren't just here to talk. They're also taking action.

It was windy and rainy Monday, but not even the weather could keep volunteers from two dozen soil and water conservation districts from cleaning up part of Biloxi beach.

"It's been cold and wet, but I do feel good about it," said volunteer Tina Craft. "There's a lot of glass still on the coast. You can find porcelain from commode parts and things like that. I'm just surprised there is so much debris out here."

Katrina-debris washing up on the beach is causing major concern for the Harrison County's Soil and Water Conservation District. Officials say another problem is marshland and beach erosion.

Tyree Washington works in Harrison County.

"In conjunction with the Sand Beach [Authority],  we're hoping to do some beach plantings to form sand dunes and that type of stuff. We've done some of that type stuff in the past years and we hope to do a little bit more in the future," Washington said.

Along with making future plans, the volunteers wanted to make a difference now. That's why members of the Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts arrived on the coast a day ahead of their summer meeting.

Celie Miller made the trip from Flora, Mississippi to do more than attend a meeting.

"Because there's a lot of people that keep on talking and talking and nothing gets done. We figured that we needed a group of people that could come down and actually get something done. It may just be a small part or a small area, but we can do something to help everybody get back on their feet," Miller said.

The volunteers say cleaning up the coast is the responsibility of all Mississippians.

"If we don't keep them clean, what's going to be left for tomorrow? It's up to us," said Sherry McGee.

Tina Craft said, "We realize that it's going to be a long time before the coast is clean and it's going to take all of us to pitch in and help to do our part. So I'm just trying to do my part."

Volunteers are also helping out at God's Katrina Kitchen and rebuilding a house in Pass Christian.