Projects aimed at conserving the natural state of public lands on the Gulf Coast received a multimillion-dollar boost Friday. Secretary of State Michael Watson, on behalf of the Gulf Coast legislative delegation, presented the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) with a check for $7,349,277, representing the Tidelands Trust Fund amount turned back for Fiscal Year 2020.
“I’m excited to return these funds to the Coast for the preservation of our beautiful coastline and to provide public access to all Mississippians,” said Secretary Watson. “Growing up on the Coast gave me a true sense of its beauty and the importance of being a good steward of God’s creation. I’m so thankful for our partnerships with MDMR, the Gulf Coast legislative delegation, local mayors and supervisors that care so much about our tidelands. I also appreciate our tidelands partners whose businesses fund these projects for the benefit of all Mississippians, including the gaming industry, which is responsible for the vast majority of tidelands’ revenue.”
Since 1997, and including the roughly $7.3 million for Fiscal Year 2020, the Secretary of State’s Office has turned back $165,948,922 to the Mississippi Gulf Coast through the Tidelands Trust Fund program.
Revenue for the Tidelands Trust Fund is generated by leases on lands owned by the State in trust for the people of Mississippi and assessment for onshore gaming operations. Generated funds are disbursed to MDMR for programs and projects geared toward conservation, reclamation, and preservation of Mississippi tidelands and the increase of public access areas on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“The MDMR is appreciative to Secretary Watson and our legislators for allowing us to manage these funds,” said MDMR Executive Director Joe Spraggins. “Tidelands funds are great for our community so the public can have access to all the things they enjoy along our Mississippi Gulf Coast. The funds also allow our agency to continue important projects and programs that further our mission of enhancing, protecting and conserving Mississippi’s marine resources.”