The Tidelands Trust Fund Program, as administered by the Secretary of State's Office and the Department of Marine Resources, began in 1994, and its mission is to establish state policy balancing the divergent interests of upland private property owners and the general public over the use of public trust tidelands and submerged land of the State of Mississippi.
Applications for Tidelands Trust Funds are accepted by the Department of Marine Resources each year. An in-house compliance review is conducted by the Tidelands Administrator to ensure that all applications are complete and legible. Upon completion of this initial screening, a Merit Review Committee begins its review process. The Merit Review Committee is comprised of DMR Cadre Staff, and various local experts in the marine science field. Their review process follows the 'project selection criteria' as established by the Commission on Marine Resources. Examples of the selection criteria include, but are not limited to, level of anticipated benefits to be gained from project, level of beneficial impact/enhancement, level of need for the project, and compliance with the intent of Mississippi Code § 29-15-9. Upon completion of the Merit Committee's review, recommendations on projects are made to the Commission on Marine Resources. After review by the Commissioners, final recommendations are submitted to the Legislature for appropriation in January. The Legislature has ultimate authority in deciding the appropriation of Tidelands funds. The Department of Marine Resources notifies all recipients of Tidelands funds by mail in May as to the amount of money their projects will receive. Upon receipt of funds from the Secretary of State's Office in December, the Department of Marine Resources disburses the funds as mandated.
Recipients of Tidelands Trust Funds sign a Tidelands Grant Agreement upon receipt of funds and are responsible for meeting the terms of the Grant Agreement. Some of these may include such stipulations as to provide the Department of Marine Resources with semi-annual reports and a final report upon completion of the project, photographs (if applicable), the results of an independent audit, the presence of a prominent, permanent sign that clearly states the origin of the funds, and the necessary permits for construction of projects.
The Tidelands Trust Fund Program is dedicated to the conservation, reclamation, and preservation of Mississippi's tidelands, while also proudly enhancing its current public access areas. The Department of Marine Resources takes great pride in our role of administering the Tidelands Trust Fund in conjunction with the Secretary of State's Office, and welcomes the continued challenge of administering the Tidelands Trust Fund to the best interest of Mississippi's marine resources.