Speak Up to Restore the Mississippi Gulf Coast

from Wildlife Promise

Mississippi’s coastal residents know that our coast has serious restoration needs. An annual erosion rate of 200 acres a year is decimating our coastline. Decades of development have intensified water quality problems. Oyster reefs are at an all-time low. Tar balls from the Gulf spill still wash up on our beaches and barrier islands.

Local residents and leaders bring familiarity, knowledge, and vision to what can be done to address these challenges and restore our coast.

Photo courtesy of the MS Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor's Bureau

Photo courtesy of the MS Gulf Coast Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

This week, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is be hosting a series of “Community Conversations” aimed to draw out these kinds of ideas from local residents and leaders.

While the phrase “public meeting” may receive a somewhat skeptical reaction from some, these meetings represent a new tool to gather public input and ideas. The design of these events skips the usual “two minutes in front of a microphone” format and instead will involve small round-table discussions led by trained facilitators.

Participants’ ideas will be captured by note takers and incorporated into a coast-wide plan funded by a $3.6 million award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. To date, Mississippi is the only Gulf State to receive this type of dedicated planning money.

If successful, these meetings could be a model for future public outreach in Mississippi and other Gulf States.

Public input is a key ingredient for Mississippi to develop a plan to successfully restore the state’s coast and economy. Restoration projects and programs selected and funded with oil spill monies should reflect the values and priorities of coastal communities.

But these events can’t be successful without people to supply their ideas. Whether you are a seafood lover, business owner, community leader, avid fisherman, or just an occasional beach goer, be sure to join in a Community Conversation.

Attend one of the three meetings below to speak up for comprehensive restoration of the Mississippi coast:

• Wednesday, August 20, 5:30-7:30 PM, Bay St. Louis Community Center, Bay St. Louis

• Thursday, August 21, 5:30-7:30 PM, Fontainebleau Community Center, Ocean Springs

• Saturday, August 23, 4:00-6:00 PM, Handsboro Community Center, Gulfport

Donate-ButtonThe National Wildlife Federation is working to restore the Gulf of Mexico for people and wildlife from Florida to Texas, and we need your help to continue our efforts. Please consider making a donation today!