Mississippi GEMS

Grand Bay Savanna Preserve

  1. Grand Bay SavannaSite Information Point(s) of Contact: Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, Coastal Preserves Program
  2. Geographic Information:
    1. Narrative Description of the Site: This bioreserve is contained in Mississippi and Alabama. The boundary line for this 26,900-acre preserve is drawn open ended going across the state line. The southern boundary follows the outermost extent of the salt and brackish marsh communities. The northern and western boundaries follow the Escatawpa River and portions of the abandoned course of the Escatawpa River. The acreage sited is an estimated figure. This preserve is one of the largest expanses of Gulf Coastal Savanna remaining in relatively undisturbed condition. There are open herbaceous communities dominated by grasses and sedges with scattered/clumped shrubs and trees. During the wet season the water table is at or near the surface and during the dry season natural wild fires occur. The mesohaline area of the Bangs Lake Estuary consists of a mosaic of low, mid-level, and high marsh, including salt pans. The low marsh is dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) that may occur as narrow bands along creeks and channels and as larger patches of tall (1 m) and short (20-30 cm) plants. The mid-level marsh is composed primarily of needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) mixed with saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) and dominates the area. The upper portion of Bangs Lake consists primarily of oligohaline mid-level needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) dominated marshes. Narrow disjunct bands of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) occur along the creeks and channels. The mesohaline area of West Bangs Lake estuary consist of a mosaic of low, mid-level, and high marsh, including salt pans. The low marsh is dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) that may occur as narrow bands along creeks and channels and as larger patches of tall (1 m high) and short (20-30 cm) plants. The mid-level marsh is composed primarily of needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) mixed with saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) and dominates the area. Pure stands of Distichlis may be found scattered across the marsh along with narrow salt pans associated with "high spots" in the marsh. Gulf cordgrass (Spartina spartinae) is commonly found along the edges of these pans. The oligohaline, Upper Bangs Lake/Grand Bay area consists primarily of mid-level needle rush (Juncus roemerianus) dominated marshes. Narrow, disjunct bands of smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) occur along the creeks and channels. High marsh salt pans are also present and include rush (Juncus), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), and gulf cordgrass (Spartina spartinae). This is a high priority site. It supports numerous orchids and insectivorous plants and has high species diversity having 20-25 (36) species in .25 square meters.
    2. Date When Information Last Updated: March, 1998
    3. Location: Jackson County
    4. Area of Influence: Salt marsh, coastal plain, and pine savanna
  3. Ecological/Cultural Characteristics
    1. Habitat type: The following ecological communities are expected or known to occur: estuarine subtidal, 1) small tidal creek 2) muddy sand embayment 3) Mississippi sound mollusk reef; estuarine intertidal, 1) mesohaline marsh 2) oligohaline marsh 3) tidal fresh water marsh 4) salt flat 5) supratidal coastal meadows; and others, 1) wet pine savanna 2) pine savanna 3) pond cypress 4) shell midden 5) pitcher plant flat 6) pitcher plant bog 7) bottomland hardwood forest 8) pocosin-like wetland scrub.
    2. Rare/Endangered Species:
      1. Aimorhila aestivallis Bachman's Sparrow
      2. Enneacanthus gloriosus Bluespotted Sunfish
      3. Malaclemys terrapin pilea Mississippi Diamondback Terrapin
      4. Alligator mississippiensis American Alligator
      5. Nerodia clarkii clarkii Gulf Salt Marsh Snake
      6. Cambarellus dinimutus Least Crayfish
      7. Ilex myrtifolia Myrtle Holly
      8. Coreopsis nudata Georgia Tickseed
      9. Marshallia tenuifolia Narrow-Leaf Barbara's Buttons
      10. Pieris phyllyreifolia Climbing Fetter-Bush
      11. Hypericum myrtifolium Myrtle-Leaved St. Johnswort
      12. Quercus minima Dwarf Live Oak
      13. Pinguicula planifolia Chapman’s Butterwort
      14. Sageretia minutiflora Tiny-Leaved Buckthorn
      15. Sarracenia leucophylla Crimson Pitcher-Plant
      16. Sarracenia purpurea Side-Saddle Pitcher-Plant
      17. Agalinis aphylla Coastal Plain False-Foxglove
      18. Agalinis filicaulis Thin Stemmed False-Foxglove
      19. Lycium carolinianum Carolina Wolf-Berry
      20. Sapindus marginatus Florida Soapberry
      21. Carex striata Walter's Sedge
      22. Rhynchospora tracyi Tracy's Beakrush
      23. Eriocaulon texense Texas Pipewort
      24. Cleistes divaricata Spreading Pogonia
      25. Platanthera blephariglott Large White Fringed Orchid
      26. Platanthera integra Yellow Fringeless Orchid
      27. Spiranthes longilabris Giant Spiral Ladies'-Tresses
      28. Ophioglossum petiolatum Stalked Adders-Tongue
    3. Uniqueness of Natural Community: This is a high priority site. It supports numerous orchids and insectivorous plants and has high species diversity having 20-25 (36) species in .25 square meters.
    4. Archaeological Features: Indian shell middens
  4. Current and Potential Educational
    1. Existing or Potential Interpretive Use: Site for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GNDNERR).
    2. Recreational Use: Boaters and anglers use the area on occasional and seasonal basis for waterfowl hunting (sparingly) and fishing.
  5. Management Status
    1. Land Ownership: Lands within this Coastal Preserve are either privately, locally, state or federally owned. Much of the property is considered tidal wetlands and is already owned by the state.
    2. Existing Designations: Mississippi Coastal Preserve
    3. Management Status: Managed by the Department of Marine Resources Coastal Preserves Program.
    4. Existing Monitoring Activities: The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources along with the GNDNERR partners will monitor this site.
    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.
  6. Site Viability
    1. Threats to Ecological Integrity: Poorly working septic systems and encroaching construction.
  7. Comments and/or Additional Information on Grand Bay Savanna: email the Coastal Preserves Manager.