Land Acquisition Creates Largest Connecting Tract of Protected Land in Mississippi

The purchase of 2,100 acres of working forestland connects over 450,000 contiguous acres.

Jackson, MS | October 03, 2016

The Nature Conservancy in partnership with the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) and the U.S. Forest Service, is proud to announce the state’s newest Forest Legacy Program tract on the Leaf River in George and Greene counties.

The Leaf River Forest Legacy Tract is comprised of 2,100 acres of working forestland along the Leaf and Pascagoula Rivers. Securing this property through state ownership will conserve forest habitat and connect over 450,000 contiguous acres between the De Soto National Forest and the Pascagoula Wildlife Management Area. This acquisition will constitute the largest tract of contiguous protected lands for conservation in Mississippi.

“This is an incredible achievement and we’re humbled by the opportunity to continue to deepen our conservation roots in this area, especially with it being the Nature Conservancy’s 40th anniversary of working along the Pascagoula River” said Alex Littlejohn, Associate State Director of The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi. “We’ve been committed to conserving and restoring land along the Pascagoula, having helped directly conserve over 70,000 acres along the river through our conservation partnerships. To now have the ability to connect over 450,000 acres of conserved lands with this acquisition is exciting to say the least.”  

Plans for the Leaf River Forest Legacy Tract include development into a working demonstration forest that will provide multiple benefits, including timber, wildlife habitat, and water quality in the Leaf River.

“Through the Forest Legacy program, our state partners are able to better protect and conserve the long-term integrity of working forestland rather than simply allowing it to be lost to development” said Tony Tooke, Regional Forester for the U.S. Forest Service’s Southern Region. “This land acquisition will serve as a major milestone for forest conservation in Mississippi for generations to come and provides an excellent opportunity for further collaboration between the De Soto National Forest and the Mississippi Forestry Commission.”

The goal of Mississippi’s Forest Legacy Program is to protect important forests in the state that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses through both land acquisition and conservation easements. The Forest Legacy Program has been used in other states to purchase key forests, or the development rights on those forests, to protect them as working forests forever.

“We are grateful for all of the partners who made this project possible – the USDA Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, the Mississippi Secretary of State, and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain” said Charlie Morgan, State Forester, Mississippi Forestry Commission.

On October 4, 2016, at Noon the Leaf River Forest Legacy Tract will be dedicated with a ceremony on the banks of the Leaf River. As a member of the media, you are invited to join us at the celebration. The dedication will take place on the banks of the Leaf River near the George/ Greene County line.  Lunch will be served at Noon, with a formal program beginning at 12:45 p.m. A short tour of the property will follow the formal program. To RSVP, get directions, or schedule an interview, please contact Andrew Blejwas (

The Nature Conservancy –
Mississippi Forestry Commission Website -
U.S. Forest Service -
Forest Legacy Program -

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.

Contact information

Andrew Blejwas
(617) 785-7047


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