Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Offers Winter Crane Tours

26850766_10155359298168215_4994836041240927406_o Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Offers Winter Crane Tours
Those looking for winter entertainment have the opportunity to scout for local wildlife through a Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge winter crane tour.
 
Melissa Perez from the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge said that crane tours are typically offered on Wednesdays and Saturdays during the fall and winter months, depending on staffing, weather and other factors, because these are usually the best times to see both the cranes and other local wildlife.
 
“Fall and winter are typically the best times for a few reasons,” Perez said. “We tend to be able to see more wildlife due to the dying back of the thick vegetation; we have the opportunity to view migrating winter bird species; and, most importantly, the fall and winter seasons offer minimal disturbance to the critically endangered Mississippi sandhill crane.”
 
Perez explained that the tour season ends in late winter or early spring, as this coincides with the start of nesting season for the cranes – this minimizes any potential disturbance to the birds during a very important and vulnerable time. 
 
She added that crane sightings are not guaranteed on these tours, as they are critically endangered with only about 120 individuals left in the wild. 
 
“While it’s typical that we do see at least a few cranes on any given tour, we often see other wildlife such as bald eagles, white-tailed deer, rabbits, turkey and many different species of migratory birds that are often difficult to spot in other places,” Perez said. “It’s also a great opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ with a staff member and see the pine savanna habitat, which is also rare.” 
 
The tours are suited for all abilities, from the beginning wildlife watcher to the advanced birder. They last about two hours, and the refuge encourages participants to wear layers for comfort. Due to the length of the tour, though, it may not be suitable for very young children. 
 
“A crane tour is a unique opportunity to see one of the most rare species and habitat types on the planet,” Perez said. “They are free of charge and a great way for a family to spend a morning enjoying all of the unique natural wonders the Mississippi Gulf Coast provides.” 
 
All crane tours begin at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center located at 7200 Crane Lane in Gautier. The tours depart at 8 a.m., and reservations are required.Crane Tours for the month of January will be held on January 6, 10, 17, 20 and 24th. For more information or to make a reservation, please call 228-497-6322 ext 101. For upcoming tour dates (and other programming at the refuge) visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Mississippi_Sandhill_Crane/.
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MDMR Announces Closing of Shrimp Season North of ICW

shrimpboats-620x330 MDMR Announces Closing of Shrimp Season North of ICW

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Officials with the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources announced last week that all waters north of the Intracoastal Waterway are closed effective at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

This closure applies to Mississippi territorial waters. All other Mississippi territorial waters will remain open to shrimping.

For more information about this closure, call the Shrimp Information Hotline at 1-866-938-7295.

MDMR officials also announced openings and closings for some recreational and commercial fishing seasons. The recreational fishing season for Greater Amberjack opened in Mississippi territorial waters at 12:01 a.m. local time on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The commercial fishing seasons for Gray Triggerfish and Greater Amberjack also opened in Mississippi territorial waters at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The commercial fishing season for Flounder closed in Mississippi territorial waters at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. The season reopened at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The Total Allowable Catch for commercial landings of Flounder will be set at 74,000 pounds. The season will be open through Dec. 31, 2018, or until the quota is met.

The commercial fishing season for Red Drum closed in Mississippi territorial waters at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. The season has reopened at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

The annual TAC for commercial landings of Red Drum is 60,000 pounds. The season will be divided into three four-month periods: Jan. 1-April 30; May 1-Aug. 31 and Sept. 1-Dec. 31. The quota is 20,000 pounds for each period. If the quota is not met or is exceeded in any of the four-month periods, the pounds shall be added or subtracted to the following period. If the total quota of 60,000 pounds is met in the third period, the season will be closed.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the state by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. Visit the DMR online at dmr.ms.gov.

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Pascagoula River Audubon Center Seeks Christmas Tree Donations

IMG_3331 Pascagoula River Audubon Center Seeks Christmas Tree Donations

The site of the tidal marsh restoration project at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center in Moss Point. Photo provided by Mark LaSalle, director of the Center.

If you need to dispose of your live Christmas tree now that the holiday is over, consider donating your tree to restore a local marsh habitat.

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center is seeking donations of live Christmas trees after the holiday season for a project that aims to restore a quarter-acre of tidal marsh in Rhodes Bayou by the Center in Moss Point.

Mark LaSalle, director of the Center, said they have partnered with Jackson County and other agencies to create the restoration project through a five-star urban waters restoration project grant. The tree donations will play a major role in the process.

“Adding the trees will help speed up the process,” LaSalle said. “They will help slow the water down to raise the level of sediment accumulation at the bottom of the marsh.”

Currently, there is a wooden fence outlining the area where the restoration project is taking place, and that is where the donated trees will be placed. The trees will create a barrier to slow down the water to keep it from sediment washing away. The end goal, LaSalle said, is to be able to plant grass in that area within a year or so. 

The restoration project is a result of damage from the area because of saltwater intrusion when historic dredging of the Escatawpa River occurred 50 to 60 years ago. The salt water damaged the fresh-river marsh area and washed the established sediment away. Now, LaSalle said, the Center is helping to restore part of what was lost. 

“We’re happy to honor our wonderful partners and help restore the marsh,” LaSalle Said. “And at the same time we can promote the beautiful tidal marsh habitat.”

LaSalle added that the donated trees need to be as environmentally-friendly as possible – this means they cannot have been flocked, cannot contain ornaments, tinsel or other items and must be live trees (not artificial). The Center hopes to receive anywhere from 50 to 100 trees, but LaSalle said they are happy to take all they can get for the project. Those who would like to donate their trees can drop them off at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center located at 5107 Arthur Street in Moss Point. For more information on the project please call 228-475-0825.

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Learn about Wildlife, Conservation at Crane Fest 2017

23334303_10155200077398215_1353545782970217622_o Learn about Wildlife, Conservation at Crane Fest 2017

Families wanting some outdoor adventure this weekend can participate in the 2017 Crane Fest at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge.

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9, Crane Fest will feature a variety of activities ranging from archery and air rifle demos, to meeting live birds of prey, boat tours, traditional Choctaw dance and music and more.

Melissa Perez from the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge said the event will have something for every member of the family from children to adults.

“It’s a good opportunity for people to get behind the scenes of what we do here at the refuge,” Perez said. “It’s a completely free event and will have a lot of fun activities for everyone.”

Perez said some of the highlights include the live presentations with hawks, owls and falcons from the Environmental Studies Center, as well as insects from all over the world in the Audubon Institute’s BugMobile. In addition, there will be special demonstrations of traditional Choctaw dance and music, guided native plant tours and eco-tours through cruises on the bayou. If weather permits, the afternoon will finish with a prescribed burn demonstration and a discussion about how prescribed burns are used to conserve the habitat.

Running concurrently will be a Festival of Conservation, where 16 conservation-minded partner organizations from around the area will have interactive, hands-on activities and booths to celebrate 42 years of conservation. 

“We can’t do it alone,” Perez said. “This is a chance for visitors to meet our partners and see the work they do, too.”

Perez said the pine savanna habitat at the refuge is extremely unique to the area and the United States, and the festival hopes to create a greater appreciation of it and the conservation efforts through all the different activities and presentations. 

“This will be a great educational open house event,” Perez said. “It also offers the chance for families to get outdoors and have fun.”

For more information about the event visit https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Mississippi_Sandhill_Crane/visitor_activities/40th_Anniversary_Celebration/.

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Mississippi Gulf Coast: How You Can Help People Affected By Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey continues to strengthen in the western Gulf of Mexico and is expected to land as the nation’s first Category 3 landfall in almost 12 years.

Weather.com predicts the storm to make landfall tonight or Saturday morning in the Texas Gulf Coast. Harvey will then stall or meander for several days, leading to a threat of catastrophic flooding in parts of Texas. Dangerous storm-surge flooding and damaging winds are also threats.

The Gulf Coast has received thousands of helping hands from other states after the impacts of hurricanes from Camille to Katrina. Now, it’s our turn to unite together and extend our resources to help the people of Texas and Louisiana. 

The city of Gautier has already gathered a crew that will be heading out to Texas to help with recovery, clean up and repair efforts after the storm makes landfall. If you would like to make a donation of supplies, (bottled water, canned goods, hygiene supplies, but NOT CLOTHES), then you may drop off at 1512 Highway 90 Gautier, Mississippi. The crew is currently unsure of when they will depart for Texas, so you still have time to drop off some supplies. 

In regards to our local organizations, The American Red Cross of Pascagoula is arranging to help people affected by Hurricane Harvey as well. “We’re in the middle of mobilizing and have over 100 volunteers on standby”, says Tamica Smith Jeuitt, Regional Director of Communications and Marketing Manager. 

The organization is currently on standby mode to see what specific areas Harvey will impact, but will be working closely with their emergency management partners to monitor every step of the way. “We’re refreshing training, fueling trucks, changing tires-preparing all that we can, so we’re ready to go when they call”. 

When asked how the people of Jackson County can help, Jeuitt suggested donating monetary funds to the organization and becoming certified to volunteer for future natural disasters. The American Red Cross of Pascagoula works with multiple, local and state-wide vendors and agencies to ensure there is plenty of food and means of shelter to provide for people, but they are “always in a constant replenish mode”, says Jeuitt. 

There will be a disaster cycle service, ‘Just In Time- Shelter Training’, session held tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations in Tupelo, Gulfport, Flowood, Laurel and Hattiesburg. Visit their training and certification page on the website for more details. 

You can make a $10 donation to help those affected from Hurricane Harvey by: texting ‘Harvey’ to 90999, visiting their website at redcross.org or calling the Pascagoula location at 228-762-2455. 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Have Solar Eclipse Glasses Yet? Make Your Own With a Cereal Box

Be prepared for the total eclipse this afternoon, which will block about 75 percent of the sun on the Mississippi Gulf Coast this afternoon.

The eclipse will last about three hours, from noon to 3 p.m., and will peak for about two or three minutes at about 1:30 p.m., according to TimeAndDate.com, which provides eclipse details for every city in the U.S.

If you haven’t gotten your solar eclipse glasses yet, it’s not too late. NASA has came up with a low-tech and cost-friendly idea to make sure people can still view the eclipse while also preserving their eyesight. Using some items you can find around the house, you can make a pinhole projector, which allows you to see a reflected image of the event.

Materials

Cereal box

Paper

Aluminum foil

Pencil

Tape

Scissors

How to make it

Trace the bottom of a box on paper.

Cut out the rectangle.

Tape paper to inside bottom of box. (If you can’t tape the paper to the bottom of the box, you can just place it there – it should stay securely in place.)

Close the top of the box.

Cut two holes in the top of the box.

Cover one hole with foil.

Poke a small hole in the middle of the foil.

How to use it

Take your pinhole projector outside and face away from the sun so that its light shines into the pinhole.

Look through the hole you did not cover and you will see the sun projected on the white piece of paper inside the box.

 

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Information and Events for Solar Eclipse

For the first time in 99 years, a total solar eclipse will occur across the entire continental United States. 

On Monday, August 21, 2017, all of North America will be treated to an eclipse of the sun. “Anyone within the path of totality can see one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights – a total solar eclipse. This path, where the moon will completely cover the sun and the sun’s tenuous atmosphere – the corona – can be seen, will stretch from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. Observers outside this path will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers part of the sun’s disk”, according to NASA. 

The total eclipse starts near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 10:15 a.m. (12:15 p.m. Central time) and ends at 2:48 p.m. (1:48 Central Time) near Charleston, South Carolina, according to NASA, taking just over an hour and a half to cross the country. The partial eclipse will last about 2-3 hours and the total eclipse just over two minutes.

Branch libraries of the Jackson-George Regional Library System will host several events to celebrate the rare occurrence. The only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters, such as eclipse glasses that will be provided free of charge to those attending library events. 

Scheduled programs are as follows: 

  • Ocean Springs Municipal Library- Family Event, Saturday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m.
  • St. Martin Public Library- Monday, Aug. 21, at 1 p.m. 
  • Vancleave Public Library- Monday, Aug. 21, at 12 noon. 

For more information about library events, visit the library website at www.jgrls.org or find posts on Facebook @JacksonGeorgeLibraries. For more information on eclipse activities, observing assets, and viewing safety, visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

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Mississippi’s Summer Ranger Programs are educational and fun for the family

Ranger programs are informative, yet interactive talks or tours that enlighten visitors on the resources, stories and history of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The National Seashore offers a variety of environmentally-based programs to guests of all ages and is highly recommended for your next family outing.

“Our ranger programs give visitors a chance to connect with the park. Some of our ranger programs take visitors out on a boat or kayak and immerse them in the natural world and stories of the park. Other programs allow visitors to look through a spotting scope into the nest of an Osprey family or learn more about the Alligators that call bayous home”, says Park Ranger Chris Bramblett.

For no charge, kids can become Junior Rangers by completing activity books throughout the tour. The activity books can be picked up at the visitor center and are also age-specific. Once completed, they are sworn in and are given their official Junior Ranger badge.

Most of the programs are between thirty minutes to an hour, with the kayak program being an hour and a half. Additionally, Ranger Programs are free of charge and ADA accessible.

Visitors can find out more about all of the Ranger Programs through their website: https://www.nps.gov/guis/planyourvisit/calendar.htm or by calling 228-230-4100.

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Chevron partners with Audubon to measure water quality

Chevron’s environmental department teamed up with staff members at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center to conduct testings of the water quality in Bayou Chicot. Waterways near urban areas, such as the Pascagoula River and its tributaries, are often adversely affected by urban storm water runoff. Urban storm water runoff affects water quality, water quantity, habitat and biological resources, public health, and the aesthetic appearance of urban waterways. 

With so many different species relying on the water quality of the Pascagoula River, measuring and maintaining that quality is of great importance.  Chevron volunteers collected samples from the Bayou Chicot water stream and partnered with staff members at the Audubon Center in Moss Point. There, the scientists measured the samples and tracked the data. 
With the data, staff members at the Audubon Center will better understand changes made to the Pascagoula River system, the impact the local community has on the river system and how to conserve the existing habitats. 
Chevron volunteers who participated in this project include Amy Brandenstein, Trudi Dixon, Desiree Howell, LaDale Neese, Julie Gallego, Shannon Crane and Jeff Gephart from Chevron; and local volunteers David Blackledge and Orlando Gallego.

 

original article posted: May 22, 2017 refineryreports.com

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The Gulf Islands National Seashore is an essential summertime destination

The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a unique feature to Jackson County because if its history, recreational opportunities and diverse wildlife.

“Gulf Islands National Seashore was established by congress in 1971, and it includes over 140,000 acres of north gulf coastline, all the barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi, the Davis Bayou area in Ocean Springs and there’s a big section of it in Florida outside of Pensacola as well,” says Park Ranger Chris Bramblett.

Locals throughout the county and tourists are able to come to the National Seashore at Davis Bayou to walk, run, cycle, explore wildlife and learn a thing or two at the visitor center. Free guided boat tours are offered to the public as well as guided kayaking tours starting this month.

“We have hiking trails in the area, if you do the round trip for all of our trails it’s just about 3 miles and that’s just in the Davis Bayou area,” says Bramblett.

The wildlife at the National Seashore ranges from various types of birds to alligators and various types of mammals. The most diverse wildlife can be found on Horn and Petty Boy Island since they are designated wilderness areas, meaning there is no permanent human activity and development on the islands.

“The Gulf Islands National Seashore gives people a green space and an opportunity to get out and explore the nature a little more. We have school groups that will come through here to learn more about the bayou ecosystem and the history as well, “explains Bramblett.

For more information about the Gulf Islands National Seashore, visit their website https://www.nps.gov/guis/index.htm or call 228-230-4100.

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