Jackson County

Meeting set for George County twin lake project

The Pascagoula River winds through George County on its way to the Mississippi Sound. The largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, it now faces a proposal to dam two of its tributaries to make recreational lakes in George County as a so-called drought-control measure for the river.
The Pascagoula River winds through George County on its way to the Mississippi Sound. The largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, it now faces a proposal to dam two of its tributaries to make recreational lakes in George County as a so-called drought-control measure for the river. ttisbell@sunherald.com File

Does the Coast need recreational lakes in Jackson and George counties? What would damming tributaries to create them do to the Pascagoula River, the largest free-flowing river in the lower 48 states?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced its intent to address such matters with an environmental-impact study beginning this year. A website has been set up so people can follow the process and send in their opinions, information and assessments.

The Corps of Engineers plans the first public “scoping” meeting, where input is encouraged. It will be Jan. 24 at the George County Senior Citizens Building, 7102 Mississippi 198 East in Lucedale. The meeting will run from 5 to 8 p.m.

It’s an open house to allow people to learn about the project and submit comments or offer concerns to be evaluated.

The notice of intent for the meeting says: “The applicant estimates that the proposed project would impact approximately 1,202 acres of wetlands, 42 miles of stream channels, and 25 acres of open water. The project is in the initial stages of planning. The Corps invites full public participation to promote open communication on the issues surrounding the proposal.”

George County is pitching the idea, along with the Pat Harrison Waterway District, as a drought-control measure for the Pascagoula River. But it’s a project that includes hopes of using the resulting lakes for recreation and improving property values in the rural southeast part of George County and some of north Jackson County.

Opposition to the lakes-creation project began building more than a year ago. Some are afraid it would cost the river its free-flowing designation and hurt rather than help its resistance to drought. The river’s designation is a tourist draw along the Coast with a new Pascagoula River Audubon Center, McCoy Swamp & River Tours and Eco-Tours of South Mississippi in Jackson County.

The EIS could take up to three years. Click here to join the mailing list and receive updates.

Corps of Engineers scoping meeting

  • 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 24
  • George County Senior Citizens Building, 7102 Mississippi 198 East, Lucedale
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