The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi recently donated its smallest preserve to the North Mississippi Land Trust. The Conservancy acquired the five-acre Coonewah Creek Chalk Bluffs Preserve in Lee County through purchases made in 1997 and 2000 to protect the world’s largest known population of the Price’s potato bean, or Apios priceana, which is listed by the Environmental Protection Agency as endangered. The extremely rare plant is known to exist at only a handful of sites in Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Price’s potato bean at Coonewah Creek grows on a narrow band along the top of a bluff formed by 65-million-year-old fossil material known as Demopolis chalk.
“We are honored to have a hand in the conservation of Coonewah Creek Chalk Bluffs Preserve,” said Shelly Johnstone, president of the North Mississippi Land Trust. “This is an incredibly unique natural area – one that preserves a piece of Mississippi’s natural heritage.
” Since acquiring the property, the Conservancy has focused on controlling invasive plant species and monitoring populations of the Price’s potato bean.
“Managing this sensitive property takes time and money,” said Jim Murrian, the Conservancy’s director in Mississippi. “We are thankful that we were able to donate the property to a professional organization capable of continuing good stewardship practices at the preserve.”
Other projects of the North Mississippi Land Trust, which was formed in 2008, include connecting public and private green spaces in DeSoto County and working with partners to conserve and restore natural areas within the upper Coldwater River watershed. Learn more online at nmslandtrust.org.
Over the past 20 years, The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi has protected more than 133,000 acres of important, disappearing habitats in the state. Today, the program has 25 staff in six offices with expertise in a range of natural sciences including marine and freshwater ecology, forestry, wildlife biology, botany, agriculture and land stewardship practices. Learn more at nature.org/mississippi.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.