Mississippi GEMS

Deer Island Preserve

  1. Deer IslandSite Information Point(s) of Contact: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Coastal Preserves Program
  2. Geographic Information:
    1. Narrative Description of the Site: The primary boundary of this 674-acre preserve follows the beach along the island. This island in the Gulf has white beaches and tall pines in the interior with marshes to the east. This area contains a mosaic of elevation zones within a dike area. The southern border consists of a narrow natural beach/dune; a 1-3 m wide band of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) lies between the dune and beach. The remaining three sides consist of a 3-5 m high levee, formed from the excavation of channels through the marsh. This levee has been breached in at least three locations, which allows hydraulic exchange with the canals and the sound. Two heights form (tall, creek-bank, 1-1.5 m; short form, 20-30 cm) of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) form the low marsh. Pure strands of saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) and salt-meadow grass (Spartina patens) form high marsh areas. Needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) and a mixture of saltgrass (Distichlis) and saltmarsh bulrush (Scirpus robustus) form mid-level zones. The island supports the following 5 species of animals: in the marsh; American Alligator and Mottled Duck. Interior: Osprey, Loggerhead Turtle, and Diamond Terrapin. This preserve is also known as a rookery for the Great Blue Heron. Lands within this Coastal Preserve are privately owned.
    2. Date When Information Last Updated: March, 1998
    3. Location: Harrison County
    4. Area of Influence: Barrier island
  3. Ecological/Cultural Characteristics
    1. Habitat type: The following ecological communities are expected or known to occur on the island: estuarine subtidal 1) Mississippi Sound-sand bottom (near shore) 2) barrier island pond/lagoon complex 3) small tidal creek; estuarine intertidal 1) sand shore 2) salt flat 3) polyhaline marsh 4) mesohaline marsh; other 1) slash pine maritime forest 2) relic dune scrub.
    2. Rare/Endangered Species:
      1. Pelecanus occidentalis Brown Pelican
      2. Accipiter striatus Sharp-Shinned Hawk
      3. Falco sparverius American Kestrel
      4. Falco columbarius Merlin
      5. Charadrius alexandrinus Snowy Plover
      6. Charadrius melodus Piping Plover
      7. Haematopus palliatus American Oystercatcher
      8. Sterna antillarum Least Tern
      9. Juniperus silicicola Southern Red Cedar
      10. The island supports the following 5 species of animals: in the marsh; American Alligator and Mottled Duck. Interior: Osprey, Loggerhead Turtle, and Diamond Terrapin.
    3. Breeding/Nursery Area: Great Blue Heron Rookery
    4. Migratory Species: This unique location provides excellent feeding, resting, and wintering habitat for numerous types of migratory bird species, such as the Brown Pelican and cormorants.
  4. Current and Potential Use of the Site
    1. Recreational Use: Boaters and anglers use the area.
  5. Management Status
    1. Land Ownership: Lands within this Coastal Preserve are privately owned.
    2. Existing Designations: Mississippi Coastal Preserve
    3. Management Status: Managed by the Department of Marine Resources Coastal Preserves Program.
    4. Existing Monitoring Activities: Monitored by the Department of Marine Resources Coastal Preserves Program.
    5. Acquisition Potential: Vaguely Active.
    6. Management Needs: The State will manage the area as a coastal preserve. The DMR will have direct responsibility. Much of the property considered tidal wetlands, already owned by the State.
  6. Comments and/or Additional Information on Bayou Portage Preserve: email the Coastal Preserves Manager.