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Gautier receives Small Project of the Year award for Shepard State Park marshwalk

marsh
The new marshwalk pier at Shepard Park in Gautier takes visitors on an educational and scenic journey through the secluded 400-acre park.

The City of Gautier’s Shepard State Park marshwalk pier has been named 2021 Small Project of the Year by the Mississippi Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

This award is meant to recognize outstanding civil engineering projects in Mississippi. Heflin Engineering teamed with Cypress Environment & Infrastructure for the permitting, design and construction administration of this project. 

The 1,005-foot marshwalk, constructed by J.E. Borries, Inc., is an educational and scenic journey through the secluded 400-acre Shepard State Park, which is managed by the City. 

Thanks in part to Tidelands funding provided through the Legislature and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, the City completed the marshwalk to allow visitors to get a closer look at the local marsh habitat, view birds and other wildlife, and enjoy scenic views of Lamotte Bayou. 

City leaders attended an awards luncheon at the Courtyard Beachfront Hotel in Gulfport today to receive the award. 

“I hope the citizens will enjoy and utilize the nature ecotourism amenity that this impressive project offers to Gautier, Jackson County and coastal Mississippi,” Mayor Casey Vaughan said. 

From left, Marc Foster of Cypress Environment & Infrastructure, Gautier Mayor Casey Vaughan, Austin Moore of Heflin Engineering, Gautier Councilman at Large Adam Colledge and Jennifer Sloan Ziegler of Cypress Environment are pictured during the awards luncheon Thursday.

The pedestrian marshwalk zigs and zags across the beautiful Gautier marsh, creating a variety of views and opportunities to appreciate nature. It includes lighting and interpretive panels to teach visitors about marsh birds, salt marshes, sea grasses, crab and shrimp, maritime forest and alligators. 

“I would like to thank Austin Moore with Heflin, Marc Foster with Cypress, City Manager Paula Yancey, and her staff for their hard work to get this project completed,” Vaughan said. “I would also like to thank Rep. John Read and our coastal delegation for supporting our projects and helping to fund them.” 

Projects for this award were judged on need, design, innovative application of new or existing techniques, future value to the engineering profession and public perception, among other criteria. 

The marshwalk is the first public pier in Mississippi to be constructed using composite ThruFlow decking, a maintenance-free material which allows approximately 43% of light to penetrate to the water surface, minimizing impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation. 

It also helps protect the pier from storm-related damaged by reducing uplift due to rising waters. 

“This project exceeded the City’s expectations, and we are thrilled to have such a beautiful project at Shepard State Park,” City Manager Paula Yancey said. “We hope it will help draw visitors from across the country and beyond to enjoy stunning views of our Lamotte Bayou.”

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Written by City of Gautier

Gautier, pronounced GO-chay or GO-shay depending upon whom you ask, is a young and growing city in the heart of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. This attractive city is known as “Nature’s Playground” due to our meandering bayous, beautiful waterfront amenities, outdoor recreation, championship-level golf course, abundant wildlife, Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, and 400-acre Shepard State Park. 

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