- Associated Press - Friday, January 8, 2016

MOSS POINT, Miss. (AP) - About 250 people across the Gulf Coast participated in planning conservation efforts for nine streams in Mississippi’s three southern counties.

Now, the Mississippi Nature Conservancy is finalizing a conservation plan and creating engineering proposals in preparation for its next round of funding.

Alex Littlejohn, the Nature Conservancy’s associate state director, tells The Sun Herald (bit.ly/1O8nBHo) the process started within the communities along the nine streams.

“I’ve found the most successful conservation stories all started with the community,” he said. “There’s a sense of ownership and pride you don’t get if you storm in and say, ‘This is our plan, this is what we’re going to do.’”

The process started with a series of 18 public meetings in 2015 — two for each stream, including Turkey Creek, Bear Point, Brickyard Bayou, Watts Bayou, Magnolia Bayou and Bayou Chico. The Nature Conservancy staff compiled all the information received at the meetings, returned for three more — one in each county.

“It’s pretty telling,” Littlejohn said. “People are very connected to these places.”

This part of the planning process was funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Each of the nine streams will get its own conservation plan. Each has unique challenges but one common to most is erosion.

“Erosion plays into sedimentation, which is dirt floating downstream, which plays into poor water quality in the bays where the oysters are,” Littlejohn said. “It teachers you everything is connected.”

The Conservancy had enough money left over to start creating engineering plans for each stream as well.

Ideally, there will be shovel-ready plans in place when the next round of funding comes in. Littlejohn said there was no estimate yet on how much the still-in-progress plans would cost.

He would like to see work start in spring 2017.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com


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