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Camp Shelby Training Site

The Conservancy has partnered with Camp Shelby since 2000.

One of the largest National Guard installations in the United States is located just outside Hattiesburg, Mississippi, with land owned by the Departments of the Army and Defense, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Home to some of the state's rarest plants and animals, a cooperative agreement between the Conservancy and the U.S. Army allows scientists to study these species and their habitats, and to work alongside Camp Shelby personnel to remove non-native species such as cogongrass and fire ants.

Conservancy staff perform field surveys for rare species and communities, evaluate habitat quality and implement research projects and monitoring to improve management strategies for rare, threatened and endangered species. Staff research how prescribed fire affects habitats, gopher tortoise behavior, how military activities affect gopher tortoises, and much more.


Most of Camp Shelby is covered by longleaf pine forests, which cover only three percent of their original locations across the southeastern U.S. In addition, rare beech/magnolia slope forests and pitcher plant wetlands are home to rare plant and animal species.

Louisiana quillwort--a plant species listed as endangered--is found along area streams. The Mississippi Heritage program documented over 80 plant species considered rare within the state, and Camp Shelby is also home to several state champion trees: slash pine, sweetbay magnolia and redbay. The location is also home to over 20 species of orchids and more than five types of magnolia.

Other common plants include:

  • Longleaf and other pines
  • Flowering dogwood
  • Little and slender bluestem grasses
  • Sunflowers
  • Butterfly pea
  • Blackberry
  • Yaupon

Gopher tortoises, a federally threatened species, dig burrows used by over 300 types of animals. The black pinesnake has been found in only 14 southern counties.

Other animal species of interest include:

  • Camp Shelby burrowing crayfish (found only at this site and protected by a Candidate Conservation Agreement)
  • Arogos skipper
  • Mobile crayfish
  • Ornate chorus frog
  • Red salamander
  • Mole kingsnake
  • Gulf crayfish snake
  • Eastern coral snake
  • Eastern diamondback rattlesnake
  • Cooper's hawk
  • Bachman's sparrow
  • Henslow's sparrow
  • Southeastern kestrel
  • Rafineque's big-eared bat

More common residents of Camp Shelby include bobwhite quail, white-tailed deer, black racers, coyotes and Eastern coachwhips.

Conservancy staff members work closely with the Mississippi Army National Guard, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Natural Heritage Program, Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

For more information on The Nature Conservancy's work at the Camp Shelby Training Site, please contact Melinda Lyman, Project Coordinator/Botanist.

The Nature Conservancy
Camp Shelby Conservation Program
CSJFTC-ENV Building 6530
Camp Shelby, MS  39407-5500
(601) 558-2875


Rare Animal Research

This is done at Camp Shelby so that information on threatened, endangered, and rare species can be provided.

Eastern Coachwhip Snakes

Learn about rare Eastern coachwhip snakes that The Nature Conservancy researches at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.

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