September 1, 2008

Land Trust Nearer to Being Reality — Charitable Status Sought for Organization

By Yolanda Jones

The North Mississippi Land Trust, an entity established to oversee development of a DeSoto County greenway plan, is moving closer to reality, local officials were told Friday.

Shelly Johnstone, Hernando's deputy planner, said Friday the Land Trust has applied for its charitable organization status with the Secretary of State's office and has applied with the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status.

Johnstone made the announcement during the quarterly meeting of the at the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven.

The Natural Resources Initiative is made up of environmentalists and local, federal and state representatives.

"This is great news," Johnstone said of the developments regarding the Land Trust. "The North Mississippi Land Trust's primary purpose is to preserve the open space in our area and land conservation."

DeSoto County in July appropriated $150,000 for the DeSoto County Economic Development Council to help establish a land trust to aid greenway development.

Johnstone said the next step is forming a land trust board. Similiar programs are already functioning in southern areas of the state.

Larry Jarrett, the newly announced coordinator of DeSoto County's Greenways program, applauded the latest news.

Jarrett is the chair of the Natural Resources Initiative, an informal group established in 2001. It's goal is to bring together naturalists and developers interested in protecting and sustaining natural resources.

The group receives updates about various programs, such as the annual Sustainability Conference that the Natural Resources Initiative helped host last year in Hernando.

This year's conference, which promotes sustainable development by blending walkable and economically vibrant communities, will be held in January at a location still to be determined.

During roundtable discussions about greenway infrastructure, DeSoto County Supervisor Bill Russell told the group that he would love to see public access along the Mississippi River levee.

Russell said this accessibility should be made part of the county's greenway master plan.

"I'd love to see a bike path that runs along the levee from Memphis to New Orleans," Russell said. "I'm extremely proud of our master plan, but I just think that we should be able to share all our natural resources, including the river."

- Yolanda Jones: (662) 996-1474

Originally published by Yolanda Jones [email protected] .

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