COAST’S NEWEST ATTRACTION
After many years, and by efforts from many people, the
Mississippi Gulf Coast is ready to welcome the newest attraction in
mid-October. Slated for an October 15th Grand Opening, the
Pascagoula River Audubon Center will delight locals and visitors alike with a
beautiful 5000 sq. ft. building that is simple in size, but magnificent in
views, adventure, and history. Every detail was carefully planned from the
layout to the location, which is situated on Rhodes Bayou that leads to the
Escatawpa River, all part of the Pascagoula Watershed. Mark LaSalle, Director
of the Pascagoula River Audubon Center, says, "With one turn from Main Street
in Moss Point onto Audubon Way, the city quickly fades and you’re one with
The Pascagoula Watershed is home to 327 species of birds,
which is why it is the perfect place for Audubon to call home and welcome
visitors. A number of elements of the center and the grounds provide a range of
uses by tourists, residents, and school groups, as well as business and
community groups throughout the year.
Key features of the center include an interpretive area
which houses species that are native to the watershed from fresh water, brackish,
and saltwater animals. Web based kiosks invite all ages to be interactive with
the information and discover and experience natural history of the river and
all natural environments across the region.
The Moss Point Fine Art Gallery highlights the work of local,
regional, and national nature-based artists. The first art show will feature Bill
Nelson, whose work focuses on the pure coastal living. The gallery space is
available to rent for business or social meetings, and special occasions. Art
classes will soon be available.
The rear, handicap accessible entrance is not only for
visitors to enter the interpretive center, but also serves as the gateway to
the bayou, which leads to the River. The serene pathway was part of the
historic Pascagoula Street Railway & Power Company trolley line that once connected
Moss Point and Pascagoula at the turn of the 20th Century. It leads
the visitor to the rest of the site which is every bit as important as the
center. A boat house supports tours of the river through the McCoy’s River
& Marsh Tours. The kayak launch supports access to the bayou, as well as
supports the center-based kayak programming, and a bayou pier that provides
breathtaking views of the river.
Also on the property, guests can enjoy a historic "Scout
Hut,” a restored cabin that dates back to one of the first Boy Scout Troops in
North America. Here, the porch invites you to sit and watch the birds on
rocking chairs under ceiling fans just a few feet away from the walking paths
around the wooded property. LaSalle explained, "The environment has different
habitats, including dryland woodland, bayou, tidal marsh, and swamp. No one
will have to hunt for birds. They’ve always been here.”
The Children’s Nature Playground, which includes a sand and
rock pit, vegetable garden, woodpecker house, tunnels, slides, butterfly
garden, and water feature, encourages unstructured and imagination-based play.
Information on pricing, events, and classes can be found on
the website, PascagoulaRiver.Audubon.org.
Photo Credit: Alex North