Round Island Restoration

The Department of Marine Resources shows how one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Over the past 60 years, Coastal Mississippi has lost more than 10,000 acres of coastal habitat to erosion. Now, Round Island is slowly becoming the next victim. News 25’s Bryan Kennedy took a ride out to Round Island to see how DMR is putting waste to good use.
When you drop anchor at Round Island, you’d never know the now 24 acre island used to stretch over 130 acres. Erosion has beaten down the island shore, but now DMR is trying to bring it back to life with what they call “the ultimate recycling project” using materials dredged from the Gulf to rebuild. Director of Coastal Restoration and Resiliency George Rasmeur said, “We have the ability to take this material we’ve regarded as waste and actually apply it back into the environment and make new marsh, new beaches.”
Having the waste pumped to the island is a win-win for both sides. VT Halter and other companies dredging the Pascagoula Channel don’t have to pay to dispose of the waste and the DMR has their island rebuilt for free.
The goal is to make the island a tourist destination like other barrier islands and an ecological home for animals. Director of Coast Preserve Bureau Ali Leggett said, “The area is so important for beach nesting or colonial nesting birds. We had a huge nesting island of birds here that came from other nesting areas to use the resource.”
DMR representatives say at one point Round Island stretched all the way to land, creating a peninsula connecting somewhere in Gautier or Pascagoula. Today they say they’re simply building upon a footprint that was created 300 or 400 years ago. “We want it to have beaches all the way around,” said Rasmeur, “We want to have nesting shore birds. We want to have trees well established up in the middle. We want to have marshes as a major component up in the interior of the island.”
A process nature has pushed forward on its own. “What you’re seeing right now is natural colonization that bird species have brought in on their feet or seed that was present in the material before,” said Leggett.
The DMR plans to use money from restore funds from the BP oil spill settlement to shape the island.

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