GAUTIER — Shepard State Park in Gautier has 395 acres abounding with trees and wild flowers, bike and nature trails, 28 developed campsites and an 18-hole disc golf course.
It now belongs to city of Gautier and will remain open according to an agreement with Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
“A revitalized Shepard State Park is an important next step as part of our Nature’s Playground strategy,” said Mayor Tommy Fortenberry. “This will add opportunities for our youth.”
The city plans the addition of an archery range, equestrian trails and stables, camping sites, pavilions, playgrounds, fishing piers and hiking trails.
As a city-operated park, Fortenberry said Shepard will become the community’s largest, tourism-oriented park.
The agreement specifies the city will continue to operate the park as a forest reserve, public park and a bird and wildlife sanctuary.
MDWFP will provide technical assistance to the city in preserving and maintaining the critical wildlife habitat and certain marine and/or estuarine ecosystems and maintain timber and timber management.
Income from public use of the park will go to the city.
The property was originally conveyed to the state in December, 1976, by Horace A. Shepard for use as a forest reserve, public park and wildlife sanctuary.
MDWFP had planned to close the park due to a tight budget.