A portion of the corner lot on Arthur and Dantzler Streets in Moss Point is being transformed – back to its original state as a functioning wetland, a Bayhead Swamp. Sponsored by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, this project was designed as a demonstration of reconnecting the pieces and parts of this small urban watershed toward better stormwater flow and treatment – using natural wetlands. All are welcomed to watch the transformation over the coming weeks, months and years.
This project serves as a reminder that the landscapes within which we live constitute watersheds: systems of uplands and wetlands that collect, transport, and store rainwater, typically referred to as stormwater. In unaltered watersheds, rainwater flows relatively slowly across the landscape, some of it captured by the vegetation, some soaking into the ground and the remainder flowing into the lowlands that we call wetlands.
As we have built our homes, driveways, and roadways to accommodate our way of life, we have replaced these pervious surfaces (that allow water to penetrate) with impervious ones. Our roofs keep rainwater out of our homes and our concrete or asphalt driveways and roadways act to conduct stormwater away from our lawns and roads and direct it “down the street.” Along the way, the small wetlands that are integral to the natural drainage systems of all landscapes are often impacted or altered to accommodate our need to drain our parts of the landscape.
The challenge for city or county governments is how to establish and maintain a system that drains stormwater that does not overly impact the bodies of water where water ultimately flows: our streams, rivers and bayous. The Arthur Street Project is a story of rediscovering the value of the wetlands at the bottom of the hill and how a restored wetland can be reconnected to an urban stormwater system to receive and treat that water before it enters Rhodes Bayou.
The reshaping of the corner lot in Moss Point is all about reconnecting the plumbing of the street drains of both roadways and restoring a functioning wetland to receive and treat stormwater from a small, five-acre watershed. Ornamental and invasive plants have been removed to make way for native plants that will reestablish a natural landscape. Trees and shrubs planted on both the upland and wetland portions of the lot will recreate natural pervious areas that will slow the flow of water and help improve the water quality of Rhodes Bayou.
Nearly 500 small shrubs and small-sized trees that will ultimately restore the site to forested and tidal marsh conditions were planted across the site on Thursday, Dec. 12. As with any gardening project, the plants will start out small, but grow rapidly over the next few years. Along the way, efforts to monitor how this approach is working will help inform other opportunities to do what this project is attempting – find a way to work with nature. If you go by the site, look for the orange tape that shows where plants were placed.
Special thanks to the County Board of Supervisors for sponsoring this effort with funding also provided by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
Hope to see you in our great outdoors!