One of the major objectives for establishing the Old Fort Bayou Mitigation Bank was to create habitat suitable for the critically endangered Mississippi sandhill crane. Only 110 individuals are left in the wild. These birds prefer open pine savanna, and less than three percent of this habitat remains from its original range across the Gulf Coastal Plain.
Spring 2010 marked the first time that a pair of sandhill cranes nested on Old Fort Bayou since the Conservancy acquired the property in 1997. The cranes, a 27-year-old male and an 8-year-old captive bred female produced one egg. The nest was approximately 4 feet in diameter and is raised about 1 foot above the surrounding swamp. The cranes built the nest in standing water for protection from predators. One crane sits on the nest while the other forages for food. Ongoing restoration and stewardship practices at the Old Fort Bayou Mitigation Bank are expected to attract these and other cranes to the site.
Highlights of the Mississippi Stewardship Program include the planting of more than 50,000 hardwood trees and 20,000 longleaf pines over four Conservancy preserves in southeast Mississippi. We have recently completed eradication of the invasive Chinese tallow tree from the Lakeshore Savanna Preserve in Hancock County and have an ongoing cogongrass control program across all the preserves.
For more information on the Stewardship Program, please contact Becky Stowe, Director of Forest Programs.
The Nature Conservancy
South Mississippi Conservation Program
10910 Highway 57, Suite C
Vancleave, MS 39565