Underutilized potential tourist draws

Published 10:27 am Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pearl River County has two potential drawing points for tourists. Those draws are not buildings, nor are they stored in buildings.

What we have here is something that is going to become increasingly rare as we and the counties around us grow — outdoor attractions. In this case, there is the portion of the Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge that is located in Pearl River County and the Old River Wildlife Management Area. There is also a small portion of the DeSoto National Forest in the northeast corner of the county.

Both the Bogue Chitto refuge and the DeSoto National Forest are federal properties, and the Old River management area is state owned property. The refuge and the management area border the Pearl River.

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Other counties, including Jackson County on the coast, have developed trails that include state wildlife properties to draw bird watchers and other nature and wildlife enthusiasts. In Jackson County and elsewhere along the coast, birding enthusiasts flock to observe birds that are not common in other areas, including a wide variety of water birds.

Pearl River County’s two federal properties and one state property could be advertised to birding enthusiasts if local enthusiasts and the county and its two cities work together to build a strong organization to mark trails, and with the permission of the federal and state owners, build observation stations.

This nature watching does not have to conflict with major uses of the properties to preserve wildlife habitat and to provide a place for hunters, the primary source for funding to purchase and manage the areas, to pursue their sport. Hunters like to watch nature as well and this use could draw more to the county.