FLOWOOD, Mississippi — Entergy Mississippi is helping move Mississippi's largest urban natural area closer to a public opening.

A $150,000 Entergy grant will help fund trails, wildlife-viewing areas, a parking area, a pavilion and other amenities at the Fannye Cook Natural Area in Flowood. The grant will leverage additional funding from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the Federal Highway Administration, and other sources.

To commemorate its grant, the company also erected a nesting platform at the site for bald eagles or other raptors.

The natural area covers 2,700 acres three times the size of New York City s Central Park along the Pearl River. More than 800,000 people live within 60 miles of the site, which stretches from near Airport Road in Flowood north to near the Ross Barnett Reservoir spillway.

The Fannye Cook Natural Area is owned and managed by Wildlife Mississippi. The nonprofit conservation organization is working to develop public access to the site, much of which is forested, to allow for conservation education and outdoor recreation such as walking, biking, wildlife viewing, paddling, fishing, hunting for kids and wounded veterans, and other activities.

"Entergy Mississippi strives to improve the quality of life for our customers and employees who live, work and raise families here, said Haley Fisackerly, Entergy Mississippi president and CEO. We focus our efforts on improving the environment and on education, and this grant helps do both. ... Having a developed site like this also makes metro Jackson more livable and attractive for economic development. Surveys show that quality of life is a top factor in companies searching for new locations. Communities that build and maintain sustainable green spaces are more likely to attract young labor."

Wildlife Mississippi dedicated the Fannye Cook Natural Area in 2016, naming it for the late Fannye Cook, a Mississippi conservation pioneer and the first director of the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The site had been owned by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and was transferred to Wildlife Mississippi for long-term management.

"Entergy's generous support moves us closer to our goal of providing a natural area where people can learn about, experience and enjoy the natural world in the heart of Mississippi s largest metropolitan area, said George Walker III, Wildlife Mississippi s President. Through conservation education programs, this site will also help us demonstrate the importance of protecting water and air quality, providing wildlife habitat and managing our natural resources in sustainable ways based on sound science."

Wildlife Mississippi is celebrating its 20th year of conserving Mississippi s lands, waters and wildlife. The organization has protected, restored or enhanced approximately 500,000 acres in the state. Its mission is to conserve Mississippi s lands, waters and natural heritage in order to sustain a clean environment and a healthy economy.

Entergy Mississippi provides electricity to approximately 447,000 customers in 45 counties. Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of approximately $11 billion and more than 13,000 employees.