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Lake Thoreau Environmental Center

Lake Thoreau

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The Lake Thoreau Environmental Center is a network of nature preserves linked together to conserve habitats while providing outreach and recreational opportunities.  The two main preserves are the Eubanks Preserve and the Longleaf Preserve.

Eubanks Preserve

This preserve is named for Mr. Leon Mason Eubanks, a beloved English instructor at USM for several decades.  Mr. Eubanks constructed Lake Thoreau and named it after one of his favorite writers, Henry David Thoreau. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Eubanks would invite local residents to come and join the Lake Thoreau Recreation Club.  Residents could pay a small annual fee and bring their families to Lake Thoreau to fish and hike. Mr. Eubanks would frequently take his English students to Lake Thoreau for poetry readings.  When Mr. Eubanks passed away in 1999, his estate donated the Lake Thoreau property to the USM Foundation. This 131-acre property is now the Eubanks Preserve.  It was Mr. Eubanks’ wish that this property be used as a nature preserve for scientific, educational and aesthetic purposes.

The Eubanks Preserve is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. and can be accessed through the main gate off of Lake Thoreau Road.

Longleaf Preserve

Prior to European settlement, south Mississippi uplands were covered by majestic longleaf pine forests.   In 1783, Explorer William Bartram described this as "a vast forest of the most stately pine trees that can be imagined.  As timber and rail industries developed, these forests began to disappear.  Today longleaf pine has been eliminated from over 90% of its former range.   In 1897, the current 160-acre Longleaf Preserve property was signed over by President William McKinley from federal to private ownership.  This property changed ownership several times and in 1916 it was donated to Mississippi Normal College (now USM) by the J.J. Newman Lumber Company.   The Longleaf Preserve is covered by a 100+ year old longleaf pine forest and is an important remnant of these forests.

The Longleaf Preserve is open to the public everyday from dawn until dusk.  The trails of the Longleaf Preserve can be accessed from the Longleaf Trace.

Biological Sciences Collections Building

The Biological Sciences Collections Building is located in the Eubanks Preserve and houses the USM Herbarium and Ichthyology Collection. The USM Herbarium contains > 40,000 plant specimens from around the world.  The USM Ichthyology Collection houses > 1,800,000 fish specimens representing most species found in the central Gulf Coastal Plain. 

Contact Us

Lake Thoreau Environmental Center
150 Lake Thoreau Road

Open 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Saturdays and Sundays

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