This week, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center finally opened its doors to the public. Ten years in the making, the 5,000-square-foot center in Moss Point, Mississippi, will serve as a community hub, a tourist destination, and the focal point of wetland and riparian habitat restoration along the river and along coastal Mississippi. The idea to build a nature center in Moss Point first surfaced in the 1990s as a way to tie the local community to the river that nourishes it, the Sun Herald reports. When center director Mark LaSalle—already a resident of coastal Mississippi—joined Audubon in 2004, the plans to build that long-wished-for nature center finally began to crystallize.
The cypress-timbered and glass building sits on a 10-acre site of trees and coastal marsh along the Pascagoula River, the largest undammed river in the lower 48 states. In addition to the center, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center site has a number of boardwalks through woodland and marsh habitat, a bird blind, native-plant demonstration plots, and a children’s nature play garden.
Its free-flowing state has made the Pascagoula River a focal point for conservation efforts for decades. More than 200 species of bird live and breed in the habitats that line the Pascagoula. But the region is also rich with human history. Audubon Mississippi staff, and volunteers from the local Audubon societies, have collaborated with nearby Turkey Creek community leader Derrick Evans and others to prove that the Turkey Creek watershed, and the associated community, needed protections from the rampant development that erupted in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. By listening to the needs of local communities like Moss Point, the Pascagoula River Audubon Center will help to support and celebrate all inhabitants of coastal Mississippi—avian and human.
See more of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, its exhibits, and the surrounding habitat: