/Nature preserve to add recreation space for Jackson metro

Nature preserve to add recreation space for Jackson metro

The Fannye Cook Natural Area is approximately 2,600 acres of greenspace in Rankin County, between Airport Road, and Ross Barnett Reservoir. The Mississippi Department of Transportation purchased the land in 2009 and handed it to Wildlife Mississippi, a conservation nonprofit Mississippi Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Fannye Cook (a wildlife conservationist who founded the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science) will be the refuge’s name. MDOT bought the site to be used as a mitigation bank or preservation area to compensate for losses to wetlands due to previous road construction projects in Pearl River Basin. Libby Hartfield is the Fannye Cook National Area Coordinator. She said that MDOT has previously cleared the area, cut down fallen trees, and planted new trees. Wildlife Mississippi will now lead any future efforts to improve the site with private money from donors and grants. Michael Flood, spokesperson for MDOT, stated that Wildlife Mississippi will be responsible for maintaining the land. Wildlife Mississippi has not yet set a date for when the site will be open to the public, pending the final building plan. Hartfield stated that the land was once owned by International Paper and used for lumber production. Hartfield stated that “… It’s going have to be rehabbed.” The nonprofit has a list of items to do in the next few months. These include connecting walking trails (including those that lead to dead ends), as well as putting safety signs up and building public toilets. Hartfield stated that Wildlife Mississippi will meet with local groups like running clubs, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to discuss how the space can be used for the community’s needs. Hartfield said that the nonprofit will also make improvements to the land in order to protect endangered species, like the ringed-map turtle.