January 29,2016

Habitat Stewards Program Graduates Seven New Volunteers

Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s Habitat Stewards program added seven more dedicated volunteers to its ranks on January 28.  Thursday’s graduation marks the 5th class of Habitat Stewards and brings the total number of program volunteers to 63.  To complete the program, volunteers receive 24 hours of training in the management of coastal natural resources.  Training includes plant identification, observation of wildlife, habitat monitoring over time and natural area management.  Once the training has been completed, Stewards are matched with a natural area and management focus that best suits their personal interests and abilities.  They are then asked to provide 100 hours of volunteerism for the benefit of our coastal natural resources.  Activities include planting of native vegetation, controlling of invasive plant and animal species, building or repairing trails for public access and removing storm debris and litter just to name a few.  In the five years since the Habitat Stewards program’s inception, Habitat Stewards have dedicated over 5,000 hours to the enhancement of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Graduates of the 2015 class of the Habitat Stewards include:

  • Gail Bishop, Ocean Springs
  • Tammy Devin, Long Beach
  • Becky Ginn, Gulfport
  • Jane Ishee, Ocean Springs
  • Amanda Kincke-Tootle, D’Iberville
  • Erin Parker, Mobile, AL
  • Marlee Morris, Ocean Springs

October NEWS:  MHSP News October 2015

Habitat Stewards Lead Volunteers in Coast Restoration

 

Pascagoula Paradise Paddlers

The Pascagoula Paradise Paddlers is comprised of a group of 6 people from the Pascagoula area. We are not a club, but are a group of friends that enjoy kayaking. For a little over two years we have planned monthly paddling trips in the area that have been open to anyone that is interested in going with us. For each trip, we select a location that has a publicly accessible launch site. We then lay out a route that covers 5 to 8 miles of paddling (2-3 hours). The primary points that we try to achieve with each route, if possible, are: interesting scenery, a loop route, and a stopping/resting  point along the way. We also consider the time of year when planning the trips. For example, sunset trips are best suited for warm weather. Also, the scenery may be totally different in the same location at different times of the year.

The purpose of these trips is primarily FUN. We get to see the beautiful scenery of the southern Jackson County waterways, and meet likeminded paddlers. There are also some side benefits that we recognize and try to maintain. One such benefit is allowing newcomers to the sport to be able to paddle with a group. Also, the trips provide local residents with opportunities to see area waterways that they may have never known existed. We commonly hear comments from participants as to how beautiful a waterway is, but yet, they did not know it existed, or was accessible. We also try to work in pertinent information regarding the area that we paddle, such as pointing out the historical and ecological features of an area. We’ve paddled past thousand year old Indian settlements on shell middens, and up century old logging paths. Through dense cyprus swamps, and open salt marsh bayous. It’s a lot more fun when you add an understanding of a waterway to the pleasure of paddling it.

Our group was started when two members of the inaugural Habitat Stewards class worked with the City of Pascagoula Parks and Recreation Dept. to hold a twilight paddling event as part of their volunteer efforts. The turnout for the paddle was so good that we decided to do something similar each month. Lessons learned from the Habitat Stewards class are shared with the group on each of our trips. By making the trip fun and informative, more people want to participate. They also leave with the knowledge of places to go kayaking in the future and hopefully become stakeholders in the conservation of these areas.

We publicize each trip through a large email list of interested paddlers, and by posting a trip notice on a meetup site at  www.meetup.com/MississippiKayakingMeetup-Group  The group size has been averaging 30 to 40 paddlers, and has reached a high of 120.

Eric Richards, Mississippi Habitat Steward