Audubon Society closes store on Washington

Published 3:03 pm Monday, May 7, 2012

The Vicksburg office of the National Audubon Society has closed its doors after nine years.

The office, 1208 Washington St., closed April 30 in a cost-saving measure on the national level, said Jay Woods, state director for the society.

“We owe it to our donors both past and present to look for efficiencies,” Woods said. “The community is understandably disappointed. We know we disappointed some people. We hate that and we’re sorry.”

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The 2,700-square-foot office space with nearly 15-foot-high ceilings and finished hardwood floors opened in 2003.

One person has been laid off and two more will lose their jobs this summer, Woods said.

Audubon’s Mississippi River Initiative program will be run from the Baton Rouge office, but the society will still have a presence in Vicksburg with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, Woods said.

“While we are leaving Vicksburg in the bricks-and-morter sense, but we are not leaving Vicksburg or the lower Mississippi River,” he said.

The Audubon interpretive garden on Washington and China streets also could be closed. The garden is home to a variety of native plants and two 12-house martin houses on poles. The space was rented by Audubon, and the building’s owner will have final say on the fate of the garden.

“I would hope that we can continue to have that garden there, but Audubon cannot be responsible for its upkeep,” Woods said.

Donated materials will be returned to donors, who may disperse the items as they see fit, Woods said.

The Vicksburg program center was one of just a handful in the country to operate a store, Woods said. Most retail shops are located in Audubon Centers across the country, he said.

“There is hope that we can return one day with a physical presence, but right now it just doesn’t make economic sense,” Woods said.

Mississippi has Audubon Centers in Pascagoula and Holly Springs.