March 20, 2019  

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Southern Miss Joins Consortium to Study Gulf Coast Plant Life

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The University of Southern Mississippi has formalized an agreement with four organizations to form a consortium that will examine and develop programs for restoration of native coastal plant life along Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.

The cooperative is comprised of five Mississippi-based organizations and businesses: Tidelands Nursery, Native Coastal Plants, 3Point Eco-Logical, USM, and Mississippi State University. 

“We are excited about the formalization of these relationships,” said Chase Kasper, assistant vice president for Research at USM. “While we expect this to evolve over time, initially our aim is support the Mississippi nursery community and increase applied and basic research activities related to coastal plant restoration efforts.”

“The Center for Plant Restoration and Coastal Plant Research (CPR) is excited to be partnering with local industry to apply the best possible science to coastal restoration.” said Dr. Patrick Biber, associate professor at The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL). “This highlights the continuing importance of the plant research program started 47 years ago at GCRL.”

The cooperative’s primary objective is to provide a framework to meet state-level requirements and enhance upcoming restoration opportunities for Mississippi’s developing native plant nursery community. The member organizations will be able to offer combined technical skills, growing capacity, and research to work toward resolving environmental and natural resource challenges within the natural plant habitats along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“The formation of this consortium is a significant step forward for coastal restoration,” said Brandon Pike, managing member of Tidelands Nursery in Gulfport.

“We see other states establishing similar groups and fully realize the need for these types of partnerships for the sake of critical research and the development of a robust private sector market,” Pike said. “Inevitably there will be a surge in restoration projects due to the RESTORE Act and other funds related to the 2010 oil spill. Our collaboration will help ensure access to quality local plant resources so that South Mississippi restoration projects are sustainable and have the highest possible functional success rate.”

Kelly Lucas, chief scientific officer for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, notes, “MDMR is pleased that industry and academia are working together to address challenges associated with supplying native coastal plants for restoration. Given the numerous opportunities for coastal restoration, it is important we utilize native sources of plants and maintain adequate genetic diversity to ensure long-term success.”

For information about the cooperative or questions about becoming a member of the group, please e-mail Chase Kasper, chase.kasper@usm.edu