Jackson County

Is ‘Keep Out’ sign near Round Island enough to warn boaters?

The weather is getting warmer, and the state Department of Marine Resources knows good weather makes Mississippi’s island beaches more tempting to boaters.

There is one, however, that is off limits, even though it’s awfully close to the mainland.

It’s an island under construction near Round Island, and it’s dangerous and possibly deadly. The sand beaches are solid, but the interior is soft mud that’s like quicksand.

Looking south from Pascagoula and the causeway to Singing River Island, you can see the white sand beaches on the horizon — an island that is a little closer to the mainland than Round Island itself.

The weather makes it doubly important to warn boaters, the DMR said.

Even though the island is posted, boaters might be tempted to pull up and let the dog run. Bad idea.

The beaches are actually the sand berm that the state built to hold the interior mud, which is wet material from the nearby Pascagoula channel dredging.

It’s all part of an $8 million project called Round Island Marsh Restoration.

This little island is in the footprint of what used to be Round Island, before so much of it washed away over time.

State Department of Environmental Quality restoration expert Marc Wyatt said it could take up to two years for the middle of this 220-acre island to solidify into something you or the dog or the kids could walk on.

In the meantime, the state has posted “Construction,” “Danger” and “Keep Out,” he said.

But locals are wondering if that’s enough.

One woman said she saw a boat pulled up onto the beach recently, someone had pulled out a chair and was sitting on the sand.

A Pascagoula boater said he wishes they could surround the interior with some type of orange fencing to doubly warn errant or preoccupied boaters.

It’s not in the project budget to put security on the island to warn away boaters.

“If you’re an adult by yourself, I think you’d be alright,” Wyatt said on Monday. “But debris or something might blow out onto the mud and a kid might try to go out there and get it. That’s my concern.”