Jackson County is home to many animal and plant species. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 to protect the critically endangered Mississippi Sandhill cranes and their unique, and itself endangered, wet pine savanna habitat.
The crane population, at that time only 30-35 birds, is currently over 100 birds. Through captive rearing and reintroduction to the area as well as wild birds nesting in the savannas, the crane population continues to grow.
The refuge also protects and restores the last large expanses of wet pine savanna, primarily through the use of prescribed fires. The wet pine savanna is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the U.S. with more than 30 plants found in a square meter of land.
The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge is part of the Gulf Coast Refuge Complex, which includes Grand Bay NWR and Bon Secour NWR. The Grand Bay NWR is also located in Jackson County, to the west along the Mississippi/Alabama state line.