By Gwen Sisson
Celebrating their 25th anniversary as a chapter in Mississippi, the Nature Conservancy has a rich history of working hard to help preserve the natural habitats that the state is well-known for.
Alex Littlejohn, Associate State Director of the Mississippi Nature Conservancy, said this anniversary is making for an exciting year for the Conservancy, and they are looking forward to another 25 years.
Littlejohn said the Conservancy has a rich history in Mississippi, dating back to the 70s.
“Our signature achievement in the beginning days was our partnership with the State of Mississippi to help acquire some 32,000 acres of beautiful river bottom swamps and wetlands along the Pascagoula River, which still remains the largest undammed river by volume in the lower 48 states,” Littlejohn said. “From those early beginnings, to establishing an official chapter in 1989, to today, the Conservancy has helped conserved 140,000 acres across the state.”
One of the Nature Conservancy projects that is having a direct impact on Winston County currently is the watershed assessment that the Freshwater Program is conducting.
“Every watershed across the state, including those in Winston County are included in this,” Littlejohn said. “Now I know it doesn’t seem like much, but what we will gain from this is tremendous. This will provide us with a road map to target water conservation across the state.”
Littlejohn said the Watershed project is helping solve one of the state’s biggest conservation problems.
“Reports are showing us that the human population is expected to double by 2050, and with that comes more mouths to feed which in turn puts more stress on our natural resources,” Littlejohn said. “With the watershed assessment, the Conservancy can take a look at what our water resources are currently and implement some long-term solutions. This can help ensure that those areas where we all grew up hunting, fishing, or camping are still going to be there for our kids and grandkids to enjoy too.”
At a recent Rotary Club of Louisville meeting, Littlejohn said with this planning and assessment of the water resources in the state, Mississippi can avoid the water shortages that other states are now facing.
In addition to the Pascagoula River and the watershed assessment, the Mississippi Nature Conservancy also works to help with the Oyster Reef Restoration on the Gulf Coast, Longleaf pine restoration and the Buttahatchie project in Lowndes County.
Robert Taylor of Louisville is a member of the Board of Trustees for the Mississippi Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
“I am very honored to be a trustee on such a prestigious board who has our natural resources and protecting our environment at the forefront of what they do,” Taylor said. “What makes this group different is that they use a common sense approach and work with industry to do this the right way. I am also very proud of the role that Alex has assumed and excited about the leadership and drive that he is bringing to this organization. We need to spread the word around Mississippi about what this organization is doing. It is a good thing for our state.”
For more information about the Mississippi Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, go to http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/mississippi/.