Companies team up to rebuild ecosystem

Photo credits: Myka Barnes-Garcia

GULFPORT, Miss. (WJTV) — Multiple companies are teaming up to restore and enhance the Longleaf ecosystem across South Mississippi.

Mississippi Power, Southern Company, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced $5.5 million in grants – to help bring the Longleaf ecosystem back to life.

“Right now today from the 90-million acres that used to be in Longleaf. Now there’s about four million acres left across the southern United States,” said Jimmy Mordica with the Nation Forest of Mississippi.

The grants will fund restoration to acres lost due to development.

“To try to return it back to that iconic Longleaf Pine Ecosystem that was here back when the Native Americans occupied this land,” said Becky Stowe with the Nature Conservancy.

Over the last eight years more than 8.7 million dollars have been granted to restore 87,000 acres of the Longleaf Pine Forest. The multiple agencies teaming up say another reason it is important to enhance and restore the area is to bring endangered species in the area and keep their habitat safe.

“So that’s going to provide habitat to Gopher Tortoises, the Dusky Gopher frog, Black Pine snakes,” added Stowe.

Tuesday, Wildlife officials placed a Gopher Tortoise inside her new home, which was funded through the grants.

“Cathy Shelton with Wildlife Fisheries and Parks has furnished as you saw the third gopher tortoise to be placed in the pin and they will establish their own home,” said Judy Steckler with excitement.

Officials say their burrow will attract over 300 different species.

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