Mississippi GEMS

Bellefontaine Marsh Preserve

  1. Bellefontaine MarshSite Information Point(s) of Contact: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Coastal Preserves Program
  2. Geographic Information:
    1. Narrative Description of the Site: This preserve consists of 1,305 acres and is represented largely by a marine, mesohaline marsh/dune system in that it receives no major freshwater input. The marsh area lies between a coastal oak/pine forest and a narrow (5-10 m) beach dune system. It is composed of a mosaic of: low, mid-level, and high marsh zones; shallow-water ponds; and forested relic-dune/islands. The low marsh is dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora), occurring in both narrow bands along the creeks and as larger patches. The mid-marsh consists of three general types, dominated by needle rush (Juncus roemerianus), olneyi bulrush (Scirpus olneyi), or big cordgrass (Spartina cynosuroides) in pure or nearly pure stands. The Scirpus zone contains what appear to be numerous "eaten-out" areas where either muskrat or waterfowl had eaten the plants and tubers. The relic dune/islands contain large live oak trees. The combination of Scirpus dominated marsh areas and shallow-water ponds makes this area a prime waterfowl overwintering area. Lands adjacent to the Bellefontaine Marsh Coastal Preserve are either privately, locally, state or federally owned. Much of the property considered tidal wetlands, and owned by the State.
    2. Date When Information Last Updated: March, 1998
    3. Location: Jackson County
    4. Area of Influence: Salt Marsh and Maritime Forest
  3. Ecological/Cultural Characteristics
    1. Habitat type: The following ecological communities are expected or known to occur: estuarine subtidal 1) small tidal creek; estuarine intertidal 1) polyhaline marsh 2) mesohaline marsh 3) sand shore 4) mud shore; other 1) beach dune scrub 2) oak-pine maritime woodland.
    2. Rare/Endangered Species:
      1. Pelecanus erythrorhynchos American White Pelican
      2. Tyrannus dominicensis Gray Kingbird
      3. Malaclemys terrapin Diamondback Terrapin
      4. Alligator mississippiensi American Alligator
      5. Phaseolus sinuatus Sandhill Bean
      6. Juniperus silicicola Southern Red Cedar
      7. Neotropical Migrants
    3. Uniqueness of Natural Community: Salt Marsh and Maritime Forest with plant communities resembling that of the barrier islands.
  4. Current and Potential Use of the Site
    1. Recreational Use: Fishing, birding, and boating.
  5. Management Status
    1. Land Ownership: Lands adjacent to the Bellefontaine Marsh Coastal Preserve are either privately, locally, state or federally owned. Much of the property considered tidal wetlands, and owned by the State.
    2. Existing Designations: Mississippi Coastal Preserve
    3. Management: The Coastal Preserves Program of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is currently developing the Bellefontaine Marsh management plan.
    4. Existing Monitoring Activities: Monitored by the Department of Marine Resources Coastal Preserves Program.
    5. Acquisition Potential: Currently active.
    6. Management Needs: The DMR will have direct responsibility and manage the area as a coastal preserve. However, intergovernmental and private cooperation is essential to manage this unique ecosystem surrounding the Bellefontaine Marsh.
  6. Site Viability
    1. Threats to Ecological Integrity: Poorly working septic systems and encroaching construction.
  7. Comments and/or Additional Information on Bellefontaine Marsh: email the Coastal Preserves Manager.

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