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Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge

Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is a 20,000-acre refuge in Jackson County.  It was established in 1975 to protect the critically endangered Mississippi Sandhill Crane.  Unlike other subspecies of sandhill cranes, the Mississippi is not migratory and dependent on the wet pine savanna habitat protected by the refuge.  Fire is critical to these ecosystems and they are maintained through the use of prescribed burning by refuge staff.  At one time, wet pine savannas covered vast areas along Mississippi's gulf coast.  In the 1950s, timber companies purchased lands form pine plantations and fire suppression destroyed the native landscape.  In the 1970s, the Mississippi Sandhill Crane was down to about 30 individuals.  The refuge was established to protect the last remaining tracts of wet pine savannas and the crane population has recovered to approximately 100 birds.

Contact Information:

7200 Crane Lane
Gautier, MS 39553

Phone: (228) 497-6322

Fax: (228) 497-5407

E-mail: mississippisandhillcrane@fws.gov

Directions:

The visitor center is located just a half-mile of I-10 in Gautier.  From exit 61 on I-10, go north on Gautier-Vancleave Road for 0.5 miles and turn right into the refuge.

Map:

Trails:

C.L. Dees Wildlife Trail:

C.L. Dees Wildlife Trail is a three-quarter mile loop through the pine savanna and along Bayou Castille (Castelle on the topo map).  There are a number of signs along the trail so visitors can learn more about the wet pine savanna and the many species of life that it supports.

Points of Interest:

Marsh Overlook:

The Marsh Overlook is a boardwalk into a swampy section of Bayou Castille.  Pond cypress trees draped in Spanish moss can be seen here.

Wildlife:

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens) is a small palm found growing throughout the savanna.

Yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) is a vine with bright yellow flowers.  It's the state flower of South Carolina but can be found here in the pine savannas in Mississippi.

Blog Entries:

05-Mar-2018: Clark Creek Waterfalls

External Links:

US Fish & Wildlife Service website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/mississippi_sandhill_crane/