Giusy Pappalardo, Italian Fulbright scholar, at the Pacagoula River.
Restoring and protecting Mississippi’s landscapes is a team effort—and the Pascagoula River watershed is no exception.
Forest Legacy Program
Since the 1970s, the Conservancy has worked with individuals, agencies, businesses and organizations to preserve the Pascagoula River, the largest (by volume) undammed waterway in the contiguous 48 states. Our efforts continue today to provide long-term solutions for protecting and improving areas for the benefit of both people and nature.
Along with landowners, the Mississippi Forestry Commission and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Conservancy has applied for funding through the federal Forest Legacy Program (FLP) to purchase important land tracts along the Pascagoula River. Conserving the acreage will improve wildlife corridors, improve water quality through decreased soil erosion, and provide added recreational opportunities.
More than $100 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) have already positively impacted our state, including sites such as the Vicksburg Historical Park and Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge. LWCF monies include the Forest Legacy Program, which is competitive and intended for the acquisition of lands identified as part of a state’s conservation priorities. As of June, 2013, Mississippi’s current application for FLP funds is ranked first on the state’s list of projects and second in the nation.
How can you help?
The Forest Legacy Program will be up for reauthorization by Congress in 2015. This and other programs that support large-scale conservation efforts are critical to ensuring the health of Mississippi’s land and water areas for current and future generations. More information at Forests for the Future.
A Fulbright scholar from Italy, Giusy Pappalardo, visited recently to learn more about the Conservancy’s efforts to preserve the Pascagoula River.
The story of the Pascagoula’s preservation will be used as a case study to inspire and educate grassroots conservation groups working to protect Sicily’s Simeto River. Students and researchers from the University of Catania-Architecture Department have been networking since 2008 to revitalize the Simeto Valley and its related watershed.
Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island (9,927 square miles with a population of approximately 5 million) and the Simeto River is the largest watershed on the island, draining 1,614 square miles.
There are a number of parallels between the Simeto and Pascagoula River projects, including unique landscapes, rare plants and animals, rich culture and heritage—as well as impacts that include water flow, erosion and sediments. Like the partnerships that have supported the Pascagoula River and its surroundings, the Simeto River project includes the involvement of multiple stakeholders such as governmental agencies, water utilities, businesses and landowners.
While in Mississippi, Giusy met with the Conservancy’s Terrestrial Programs Manager, Becky Stowe, and also with staff and volunteers from National Audubon Society and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.
If you’d like to follow the efforts of the Simeto Valley group, visit www.simetopar.org/index.html.