Forest Service sells land for southwest Mississippi project – Miami Herald

MEADVILLE, Miss.

The U.S. Forest Service is transferring ownership of a parcel of land to a group that plans to develop a conference center and a 200-room lodge near a lake in southwestern Mississippi.

Scenic Rivers Development Alliance said in a news release Friday that it had acquired about 150 acres (60.7 hectares) by Lake Okhissa. Money for the purchase came from the state. Legislators this year passed and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed a bond bill that included $750,000 for the project.

Work on the lodge and conference center is expected to begin during the final months of this year.

The alliance said Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith sponsored a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to convey the land to Scenic Rivers.

“I’ve long been invested in this project, and I am eager to see the economic benefits it will bring to this rural region,” Hyde-Smith said in the news release.

The alliance promotes outdoor recreation and tourism in southwest Mississippi. Its members are the city of McComb and five counties — Amite, Franklin, Pike, Walthall and Wilkinson.

“There is a shared vision for rural economic development,” said the executive director of the alliance, Joseph Parker.