Deer Island Restoration & Research

Deer Island

On the eastern tract of Deer Island, trees slowly died after the severe beating they took buffering Hurricane Katrina. It's hard to imagine that storm could have been worse.

Hundreds of leaning dead trees are a hazard to be around, so is the nearby quicksand-type containment site for dredge spoils to be stored for beneficial use projects.

With public access expected to increase following the gradual addition of marked walking paths, a pier, and proposals for further recreational development, Deer Island visitors should stay west of Grand Bayou, the small waterway cutting through the island.

Restoration & Research

Prescribed burn of slash pine on eastern tract of Deer Island. December 2016.

Prescribed burns are not only a good land management practice to reduce fuel load should a wildfire break out, they are necessary to enhance germination or growth of certain species of vegetation, including slash pine.

“Deer Island suffered mass pine mortality following Hurricane Katrina, with only 10 trees surviving on the far eastern portion of the island,” said Ali Leggett Robertson, director of DMR’s Coastal Preserves Bureau. “The depleted seed bank and isolation of this area has delayed the forest regeneration that is evident on the remainder of the island. “Burning off the dense, grassy understory will reduce competition and give the pine seedlings a greater chance of survival.”
Ali Leggett Robertson visits slash pine seedlings destined for Deer Island at the U.S. Forestry Service's Southern Research Station.

Making the most of replenishing the eastern tract of Deer Island, MDMR partnered with the U.S. Forestry Service, designating 3 acres for research purposes. 1,400 seedlings sprouted from seeds of native slash pines from our surrounding local area were planted.

Individual seedlings are tagged from the specific parent tree.

Those planted in the USFS research plots will be monitored throughout the course of their lifetime for growth rate, health and survival. Furthermore, there are two different research plots, one saturated and one unsaturated to respectively represent wetland and upland areas.

Unsaturated plot representing upland areas.

In addition to the research areas, the MDMR Coastal Preserves planted 1,900 trees randomly across 25 acres of the Deer Island eastern tract.

Native slash pine seedlings being unloaded at Deer Island. January 2017.

This would not have been possible to accomplish in such short amount of time without the efforts of individual volunteers from MDMR partners at:


The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources is dedicated to enhancing, protecting and conserving marine interests of the state by managing all marine life, public trust wetlands, adjacent uplands and waterfront areas to provide for the optimal commercial, recreational, educational and economic uses of these resources consistent with environmental concerns and social changes. Visit the DMR online at

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MS Dept. of Marine Resources

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