Long-standing partnership leads to new public, nature-based recreation amenity in Ocean Springs

photo of boardwalk
A new boardwalk at Old Fort Bayou in Ocean Springs. (Photo submitted)

By Rileigh Campbell in collaboration with Tracy Wyman

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.—A mile-long trail featuring a raised boardwalk now offers the public access to a nature-focused amenity in Ocean Springs thanks to a partnership between Mississippi State’s Gulf Coast Community Design Studio and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain.

The groups have partnered on projects since 2010. Their most recent work was completed on Land Trust property, which meanders through an upland forest and crosses over marsh wetlands, providing educational opportunities and stunning views of Old Fort Bayou.

As one of MSU’s research centers housed within the College of Architecture, Art and Design, the GCCDS provided design services, assisted with securing a qualified contractor for the trail, and provided construction oversight.

“This is part of a larger project we’ve been working on with the Land Trust since 2018 to identify and implement projects that can improve water quality within the Old Fort Bayou Watershed,” said David Perkes, GCCDS director.

“It’s really great when we can work with different community partners,” said Perkes. This trail “not only helps to preserve the marsh but also gives people access to it.”

Tracy Wyman, a GCCDS landscape architect, served on the design team and handled construction administration.

(Photo submitted)

“The site analysis, permitting and design phase was completed in 2020. But work was delayed for various reasons until late 2022 when a contractor was selected,” Wyman said. “Construction began in January, and it opened to the public in the summer.”

The boardwalk and trail system add to an existing kayak launch on the same property, creating a significant amenity for residents of the Inlet Condos, since it is nestled on property adjacent to the residential, multi-use development. It also is open and accessible to the public.

“Community engagement is always an important part of our partnerships,” said Wyman. 

To include community, the Land Trust reached out to its social media following to submit inspiring quotes to be engraved into the guardrail along the boardwalk. Users will find various quotes by distinguished personalities like Albert Einstein, John Muir and even Yoda from Star Wars that inspire bayou stewardship.

Funding for this project was provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in agreement with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The funds were awarded to the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain through a subgrant with MDEQ.

The Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a professional service and outreach program of MSU’s College of Architecture, Art and Design, works through close, pragmatic partnerships with local organizations and communities in and beyond Mississippi’s three coastal counties, putting professional expertise to work to shape vibrant and resilient Gulf Coast communities. Learn more at caad.msstate.edu/research.

The Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain is a non-profit organization located in Biloxi with a mission is to conserve, promote and protect open spaces and green spaces of ecological, cultural, or scenic significance. Learn more at ltmcp.org.

Monday, December 4, 2023 - 7:04 pm


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