Marylanders Invited to Join Oyster Growing Program
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Marylanders Invited to Join Oyster Growing Program

Application Deadline May 15

Chesapeake Montessori School students help plant baby oysters through the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program

Chesapeake Montessori School students help plant baby oysters through the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is looking for communities to help raise baby oysters for the 2013 season through the Marylanders Grow Oysters program. Now in its sixth year, the program has become a huge success thanks to enthusiastic citizens who have helped support the effort.

“I want to extend a big thank you to all of the dedicated volunteers who have made Marylanders Grow Oysters what it is today,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “We encourage other interested communities and organizations with water access to help us expand the program by becoming an oyster steward.”

Last year, citizen volunteers raised more than 2 million new oysters that were planted in sanctuaries throughout Maryland waters. DNR is now seeking local coordinators willing to organize the program in additional rivers, creeks and Chesapeake Bay areas for the 2013 season. The oysters require minimal care ─ mostly the rinsing of the cages every two weeks. DNR will provide all of the materials and assist coordinators with planning and implementation.

“Marylanders Grow Oysters works to engage enthusiastic community partners in raising and protecting young oysters during their vulnerable first year of life,” said Program Coordinator Chris Judy. “Once this process is complete, the oysters are then planted in local sanctuaries to enhance the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem.”

Citizen oyster growers enjoy the personal rewards of stewardship and learn about oysters while contributing to the enhancement of an oyster reef. The year-old oysters are collected and planted in a local oyster sanctuary, and a new group of young oysters is distributed to participating growers to start the process again.

Governor Martin O’Malley launched Marylanders Grow Oysters in 2008 as part of the State’s Smart Green and Growing initiative. The program began with about 900 oyster cages, cared for by 170 growers, along the Tred Avon River. DNR has expanded the program with the help of partners and now nearly 7,500 cages ─ exceeding the initial goal of 7,000 ─ are located in 30 tributaries from the St. Mary’s to Chester rivers.

The program is managed by DNR in conjunction with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science which produces the majority of the spat (baby oysters), and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which provides the cages.

This month, Governor Martin O’Malley announced good news regarding the State’s ongoing efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay’s native oyster population. Results of Maryland’s 2012 Fall Oyster Survey show oyster population and reproduction increased for the second consecutive year, and diseases, which decimated the oyster population in 2002, remained far below their long-term averages.

To take part in program, visit  and print out the application. Before filling out the form, interested participants are asked to contact Chris Judy at for more information.  Applications are due by May 15, 2013.