COLUMN: SOS, State Leaders Work Together on Land Deal for Public Use

Jackson, Miss. (Clarion Ledger) – Not a single dime of the state’s tax dollars was used to purchase the nearly 18,000 acres of iconic Mississippi Delta river bottoms now known as the Phil Bryant Wildlife Management Area.

As Lt. Governor-elect Delbert Hosemann said, “this is the way government, private, and non-profits ought to work.”

It worked like this: A federal grant administered through the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) in combination with private funding from The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi (TNC) enabled the historic purchase.

And Mississippians can thank hunters from Mississippi and across the United States for the federal grant money that was used to help make this possible, as these funds are generated from a portion of all firearm and ammunition sales each year. These proceeds are directed into the Wildlife Restoration Trust, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Fund, which is annually apportioned to states for wildlife conservation efforts, hunter education programs as well as the operation of shooting ranges.

Since passage through Congress in 1937, the program has delivered over $7 billion for conservation efforts across the US. With the purchase of the Phil Bryant WMA, Mississippi will have now received over $146 million from that total allotment.

A lot of people may not be familiar with The Nature Conservancy, but this purchase in the Delta personifies who we are as an organization and the work we have been doing across Mississippi since the mid-70s. Our mission is to conserve land and water on which all life depends and we are honored to be a part of yet another effort in this great state that will conserve critical wildlife habitat unique to our part of the world.

This collaboration between the state, TNC, and the private sector means Mississippi has conserved one of the Delta’s last remaining blocks of “big woods”, while providing unprecedented recreational opportunities for years to come and it was at no cost to the taxpayers. It is easy to see why this will serve as one of the greatest conservation success stories in our state.

A purchase for hunters by hunters and to me that makes the Phil Bryant WMA pretty special.