THE COAST 59 CAT ISLAND, ORIGINALLY DISCOVERED IN THE LATE 1600s BY THE FRENCH, IS THE WESTERNMOST OF THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST’S FOUR BARRIER ISLANDS. When Spanish explorers arrived on the island in the late 1700s, they mistook raccoons for cats and named the island Cat Island. The western half and southern tip portions of the island became part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in 2002. Cat Island has a distinct “T- shape” that was created by the crashing currents in the Gulf of Mexico. Cat Island’s beaches are uniquely covered with dense forests filled with pines and oaks. The island is home to many alligators, birds and other creatures. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the southern tip of the island in 2005. In 2014, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in conjunction with a British Petroleum contractor, acquired approximately one-third of Cat Island from the Boddie Family. In 2016, Secretary Hosemann partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and acquired 492 acres from British Petroleum. The full cost of the transfer of the land to the state of Mississippi was paid for by the federal Mississippi Coastal Improvements Program, administered by the Corps of Engineers. No State funds were expended to purchase this acreage of Cat Island and now, the state of Mississippi owns more than 718 acres of Cat Island. Conservation easements protect these acquisitions in perpetuity and the Department of Marine Resources oversees the day-to- day maintenance of the property. In addition, the Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of the Army entered into a Memorandum of Agreement for Construction of the Mississippi Coastal Improvements Barrier Island Restoration Plan, Cat Island Restoration. Under this plan, expected to be complete in 2017, the Corps of Engineers intends to renourish the eastern beach of Cat Island with 2 million cubic yards of dredged sand. THE COAST 59 CAT ISLAND