The impact of wildlife management area dedication goes beyond hunting, fishing

Published 5:16 pm Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Last Wednesday, I spent part of my day covering the dedication of the Phil Bryant Wildlife Management Area, an 18,000-acre mixture of bayous, sloughs and stands of hardwoods that went under the protection of the state of Mississippi.

Your reaction to this information may be “so what?” and I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that, but the ceremony was a lot more than naming an area after the state’s governor.

Working as a reporter, I get a lot of emails, brochures and magazines from wildlife and conservation groups and organizations like the Civil War Battlefield Trust and the American Battlefield Trust discussing the need to preserve areas for the sake of conservation and elements of America’s history.

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And actions like the dedication of the Phil Bryant Wildlife Management Area are a step in that direction. The land placed under the state’s protection will not only provide area for hunting, fishing and wildlife observation, it will ensure the land is not overwhelmed by commercial development; in other words, it will not see its trees removed, its sloughs filled and bayous dammed for the construction of homes or industries.

It’s a step other states and industries have taken to make sure people have places to enjoy the natural beauty of forests and marsh areas.

When we lived in Decatur, Ala., we loved going to the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge to walk around and observe the Canadian geese that called the refuge home. In Louisiana, I enjoyed going to cover events at the state’s Port Hudson Battleground area. Here, it’s the Vicksburg National Military Park. I’ve been to the Champion Hill area and visited the Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee.

There are some areas I have not visited, like the Raymond Battlefield and Grand Gulf.

All of these areas enjoy something that other areas in the country do not enjoy — protection. Development in some areas in the east and southeast has overwhelmed and destroyed sections of Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields and some wildlife areas.

I’m not a hunter and I don’t fish. I do, however, like to visit areas like Phil Bryant, or Wheeler and other areas just to enjoy the quiet.. I like history and enjoy the Military Park and Shiloh for the quiet, be close to history and learn more about the past. Shiloh has a personal connection because my great-great-grandfather was killed in the battle.

I know that as a growing country we need to develop affordable homes where people can live and businesses so they can have jobs. But we need to balance that need to expand with the need to protect the natural and historic sites for future access and use by the public.

It’s good to know that Mississippi is taking that position and that we have so many natural and historic sites within our area. If you’ve never done so, take time to go visit some of these areas and enjoy them. They’re set aside for you.


John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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