Public Invited to Little Choptank River Oyster Restoration Open House
What: Open House to present plans for major oyster restoration efforts in the Little Choptank River and gather public input
When: February 27 from 3 to 8 p.m. Where: Sojourner Douglass College Auditorium, 824 Fairmount Ave, Cambridge
This open house allows participants to stop by at their convenience to learn about and share their thoughts on Maryland’s latest plans for oyster restoration ─ sanctuary enhancements in the Little Choptank River. Efforts include adding more oysters and substrate to expand the sanctuary, boost oyster reproduction and improve water quality. The event is hosted by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The purpose of this open house is to hear from the local community and to discuss the options for making the project a success,” says DNR Shellfish Program Director Mike Naylor. “DNR staff and representatives from NOAA and the Army Corps will be there to answer questions and collect comments.”
At the open house, agency representatives will present maps showing locations suitable for oyster restoration, oyster population estimates, and the options for planting new bottom substrate material in the river. The intent of the project is to expand the footprint of historic Little Choptank oyster bars to about 300 acres and to seed the reefs with spat on shell and adult oysters to foster reproduction, stability, and growth. DNR is scheduled to start placing substrate in the creek this spring, starting in waters greater than nine feet deep. Click here to view the Open House presentation.
These sanctuary restoration projects aim to enhance and protect oyster populations in order to facilitate natural disease resistance, provide essential habitat for marine organisms, and improve water quality through the filtration of algae and sediment. Success in the development of Maryland’s oyster sanctuary program will also contribute to improved sport and commercial fishing through enhanced oyster production and the habitat that oyster reefs provide for a variety of Bay species.
The Little Choptank River lies between the Choptank River to the north and the Honga River to the south. The area’s oyster restoration efforts are in line with the strategy developed in response to President’s 2009 Chesapeake Bay Executive Order to Restore the Chesapeake Bay, which set the goal of restoring self-sustaining oyster populations to selected Bay tributaries by 2025. The area was picked by scientists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers because of its high likelihood to succeed.
Maryland and its partners continue to make progress under all 10 points of the Governor’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture Development Plan, adopted in 2010. In October, Governor O’Malley announced another oyster restoration landmark, as the State and its partners produced and planted 1.25 billion oysters last year. The University of Maryland Horn Point Hatchery produced the baby oysters – the first time any oyster hatchery in the country has passed the 1 billion mark for Eastern oyster spat production. Additionally, through an innovative partnership with the transportation company CSX, 112,500 tons of fossilized oyster shell is being transported by train– at cost – to complete planned reef restoration in Harris Creek and make major progress on similar efforts in the Little Choptank.
For information on the science behind oyster restoration, visit the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s website at chesapeakebay.noaa.gov.
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