Senate Approves Deer Island Bill

Mississippi is a step closer to owning Deer Island on the Gulf Coast.

The Senate passed a bill to allow the state to borrow $10 million. That money will be combined with about $6 million in federal and other funds to buy and preserve Deer Island.

Lawmakers say the $10 million would be repaid from leases on public water bottoms, or tidelands. The tidelands leases are paid primarily by casinos to dock on state waters and generate about $5 million a year.

The Sanders family of Jackson has owned 450 acres, about 90 percent of the island, since the 1950s. The rest is owned by a Florida conservation group, the city of Biloxi and several private owners of small parcels.