Mississippi’s Grand Bay reserve recently hosted NOAA’s Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Oceans and Atmosphere, RDML Tim Gallaudet Ph.D., USN Ret. The Admiral visited the reserve’s interpretive center— the first LEED certified building in Mississippi. He also took a boat tour of the reserve’s protected areas with Benny McCoy from McCoy’s River and Marsh Tours, a local ecotourism business that often partners with the reserve. Admiral Gallaudet found the ancient shell middens especially interesting with artifacts dating back to 6,000 B.C.
“The Admiral was so enthusiastic about the reserve and the people who work here,” says Reserve Manager Ayesha Gray. “He took a personal interest in everyone he met and seemed particularly focused on habitat conservation and the economic impact of our work.”
The staff discussed the reserve’s core functions and how vital the reserve is to Mississippi’s coastal community. Locals value Grand Bay as a protected place where knowledge is generated, as an inspiring resource for artists, students, and teachers, and as a boost for the economy through partnerships with businesses like McCoy’s River Tours. The staff also discussed risks to the reserve, including an ongoing issue with acidic wastewater from a former fertilizer factory, which is under EPA control and recently was added to the National Priorities List for Superfund.
“We wanted to share the importance of the Grand Bay Estuary with him—the fisheries and fishing and how the work the reserve does helps protect it for Mississippi,” explained Ayesha.
Thank you to Grand Bay for representing our system so gracefully and well!