In 1933, W.C. Nelms graduated from Mississippi State with a degree in Civil Engineering. In this episode, he discusses working for the Civilian Conservation Corp and their efforts to control the erosion that devastated so many Mississippi farms.
By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of US farmland had lost its topsoil due to erosion. Nelms recalls how the CCC worked with Mississippi farmers to develop soil conservation techniques. One early solution, imported from Japan, would soon gain infamy. In the 30s and 40s, Kudzu vines were planted throughout the South as a way of controlling soil erosion. He explains the logic behind introducing the invasive plant to our ecosystem.
The U.S. Congress passed the Soil Conservation Act in 1935 and the Soil Conservation Service was formed. Nelms describes how the work of the SCS evolved into the development of state soil conservation districts.
To learn more about soil and water conservation in Mississippi, go to http://www.mswcc.ms.gov
PHOTO: Alamy Live News
Boe McClure grew up in the Hudsonville community in Marshall County. For decades, he and his father rented farmland from Ruth Finley, owner of the Davis Plantation in Holly Springs. Growing up in the Coldwater River basin, McClure spent a lot of time riding his horse through the woods, hunting and fishing. He remembers how the rich bottomland on Davis Plantation became unusable as beavers began to dam creeks along the basin in the mid-1960s and Miss Ruth’s decision to let nature take over. He discusses the springs that feed the Coldwater River Watershed and how the beavers have made it a haven for wildlife.
Ruth Finley and her sister, Margaret Finley Shackelford, donated their Holly Springs plantation to the National Audubon Society in 1998. McClure details the return of wild turkeys and other game to the area since the Strawberry Plains Sanctuary opened and why it’s important for people to develop a relationship with nature at an early age.
Learn more at http://strawberryplains.audubon.org
PHOTO: Mitch Robinson
Becky Stowe, of Lucedale, is the South Mississippi Director of Forest Programs for the Nature Conservancy. In this episode, she explains how they work to restore biodiversity to their longleaf pine preserves, the important role fire plays in controlling the underbrush in a longleaf forest and how foliage lies dormant, waiting for the opportunity a fire creates.
Maintaining a longleaf forest through prescribed burnings, improves habitats for birds and wildlife. Stowe reveals how animals avoid being harmed when the underbrush is burned away. She also discusses how the Nature Conservancy works with Camp Shelby to protect its wildlife and natural resources and why they call gopher tortoises the chicken McNuggets of the forest.
Keith Coursey of Hattiesburg was trained to be an industrial forester—learning how to grow trees like any other crop. Now a prescription forester for the De Soto National Forest, he explains how prescription forestry requires a much broader scope of knowledge.
The clear cutting of Mississippi’s longleaf pine forests during the period between 1870 – 1930, radically altered our state’s ecosystem. After the longleaf forests were clear cut, loblolly pines were planted in their place because they were easier to cultivate and reached maturity faster. In this episode Coursey details the new plan to restore our biodiversity, discusses how fire helps the longleaf flourish and how the two species battle for dominance.
For thousands of years Native Americans used fire to manage the forests of South Mississippi. In this episode Ecologist, Tate Thriffiley explains why this practice was good for the longleaf pines and the entire ecosystem.
By 1930, virtually all of the longleaf pines in Mississippi had been harvested. Thriffiley describes the mistakes made in replanting the DeSoto National Forest and explains why a host of State and Federal agencies have teamed up with conservation groups to promote the planting of longleaf pines in Mississippi.
PODCAST EXTRA: Keith Coursey is the Prescription Forester on the DeSoto National Forest. He recounts the history of the Forest Service and its evolving attitude towards fire.
PHOTO: South Carolina Dept of Natural Resources
In 1983, a hazardous-waste disposal company attempted to build a toxic waste dump in the town of Shuqualak in Noxubee County, Mississippi. In this episode, Martha Blackwell describes how local citizens organized to fight back and were able to have a five year moratorium placed on chemical disposal sites in Mississippi.
In 1991, after the moratorium expired, plans were announced to construct three toxic waste facilities in Noxubee County. Blackwell recalls how she learned about a hazardous-waste dump to be constructed on her neighbor’s land. She details how their group fought to keep these facilities out of Noxubee county and why they felt that having three high capacity sites would lead to waste from across the country being brought to Mississippi for disposal.
In a podcast extra, Blackwell credits the Choctaw Indians with preventing the plans to construct a dump site on reservation land.
Growing up in Dixie Springs, Paul Ott Carruth had two great passions: the Great Outdoors and making music. So it came as a shock when in 1967, Carruth learned that hardwood trees around the Leaf River were being intentionally poisoned. At the time, Carruth was gaining recognition as a singer on a Hattiesburg TV show. He decided to combine his love of music and his love of nature to save those trees.
In this episode, Ott discusses how this decision led to a life devoted to protecting Mississippi's natural resources through songwriting. He also talks about his long association with the State Game and Fish Commission.
Paul Ott Carruth’s weekly radio and TV show Listen to the Eagle continues to celebrate and promote The Great Mississippi Outdoors.