Shifting Sands on Petit Bois Island

Step 3: Group discussions – Explore options for management.

The class will be divided into three groups, (A, B, and C) with each group responsible for researching and reporting on their assigned questions to the rest of the class. Based on the information presented by each group, the class will make a recommendation about how to manage changes on Petit Bois Island.

1: What are the implications of Petit Bois shrinking or disappearing?

  • Group B will consider the implications for coastal communities.
    • To learn about how coastal communities depend on Petit Bois and the other barrier islands for recreation and a tourist economy, see the Visitor Use and Experience section and the Social and Economic Environment section of Chapter 3 of The Gulf Islands National Seashore Final General Management Plan.
    • Read about a Stanford University study on the value of barrier islands to coastal communities here and here.
    • Report to the class how coastal communities in Mississippi might be affected if Petit Bois Island disappears.
  • Group C will consider the implications for the nation.
    • To learn more about the economic value of the Port of Pascagoula review its website.
    • To learn more about the benefits of wilderness values see the discussion here.
    • Share with the class the different benefits provided by each of these uses of the land and water.
  1. What can we do to reduce island loss? Each group will address one of three approaches, and report back to the class after exploring possible solutions. Consider scale (what do we have control over?), options, and the potential impacts of each proposed solution (positive and negative).
  • Group A will explore solutions for reducing climate change, sea level rise, and storm intensity. Will addressing climate change save Petit Bois Island?
  • Group B will examine dredging options. Are there ways to dredge in an environmentally sustainable way?   Consider the discussion by the Army Corps of Engineers on Beneficial Uses of dredged material and Land Creation and the Landsat image of dredge locations included in “Appendix B – Littoral Sediment Budget Report” (PDF page 17 of 185, page 4 of document). What does this mean for Petit Bois’ wilderness values?
  • Group C will examine alternatives to dredging the pass. What would happen if the Army Corps didn’t dredge the Horn Island Pass? Based on your earlier research, consider the impacts on businesses, communities, and wilderness.   Examine the Landsat image, included in “Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program (MsCIP) Comprehensive Barrier Island Restoration Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties, Mississippi: Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement”, (PDF page 27 of 282, document page 1-4). Are there alternative routes that would maintain benefits but reduce harmful impacts?
  1. Class discussion: make a recommendation. Should we let Petit Bois Island shrink and possibly disappear? If not, what steps should we take to slow or stop this process?