The Pearl River starts near Nanih Waiya, the legendary birthplace of the Choctaw nation in central Mississippi and runs southeast, gathering the waters of Strong river and Yockanookany before it flows through the Ross Barnett Reservoir and southward into Louisiana, where it subsumes the waters of the Bogue Chitto river and continues to the Gulf of Mexico between the Rigolets and Heron Bay.
As such, the Pearl River system includes approximately 500 miles of waterways that drain more than 8700 square miles.
In addition to being used for recreation and supplying drinking water for a large portion of Mississippi, the Pearl river is habitat for numerous of our most threatened or endangered species, including Speckled Madtoms, Gulf Sturgeons, and inflated heelsplitters.
A waterway this prodigious needs worthy champions and guardians, and the Pearl seems to have found its champions in the Pearl Riverkeeper volunteer organization.
Pearl Riverkeeper was started in July 2017 by retired Navy helicopter pilot and flight instructor, Abby Braman, and because of the obvious need for a group of volunteers to help protect the Pearl river basin, the group’s ranks were rapidly swelled by conservation-minded residents of Mississippi and Louisiana all up and down the Pearl river.
Their first large event was the Pearl River Clean Sweep in September of 2017, when 1015 volunteers removed 36,000 pounds of non-biodegradable trash from the Pearl river in one day! More recently, volunteers coordinated by Pearl Riverkeeper and other conservation organizations spent an afternoon clearing 2600 pounds of single-use plastic bottles, foam drinking cups, aluminum cans, and other trash that was choking Crystal Lake in Flowood.
Other projects of the Pearl Riverkeeper organization involve monitoring bacteria in the Ross Barnett Reservoir, recreational access development of the Pearl river south of the Reservoir, and sediment pollution monitoring throughout its lengths.
To learn more or volunteer to help, check out their website at www.PearlRiverkeeper.com and watch for news of their annual Pearl River Clean Sweep coming up in mid-September.