Big Creek is located within TNC’s Charles M. Deaton Nature Preserve.
Charles M. Deaton Preserve Big Creek is located within TNC’s Charles M. Deaton Nature Preserve. © Erika Nortemann/TNC

Places We Protect

Charles M. Deaton Nature Preserve


The Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers converge nearby to form the Pascagoula River.

Named for one of the founders of the Mississippi Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the 3,300 acre Charles M. Deaton Nature Preserve is one of the finest natural areas remaining in Mississippi.

The preserve protects the headwaters of the Pascagoula River, where the Leaf and Chickasawhay Rivers converge, and is part of a 47,000-acre swath of public lands surrounding the Pascagoula River, the largest (by volume) unimpeded river in the contiguous United States.


  • Bald cypress and water tupelo
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Cardinal flower
  • Indian pink
  • Lizard’s tail


  • Swallow-tailed kites
  • Gulf sturgeon
  • White-tailed deer
  • Northern parula
  • Alligator snapping turtle
  • Eastern hognose snake  


The following groups have worked together to understand and protect the site's rare and interdependent communities of plants and animals:

  • TNC staff and volunteers
  • Local landowners
  • Researchers from Mississippi State University, University of Southern Mississippi and Louisiana State University 
  • Mississippi Department of Transportation