n the past 100 years, the oyster population has declined dramatically due to a combination of overharvesting, disease, pollution, and natural predators.
Today, the oyster population stands at about two percent of its historic levels. Therefore, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, along with its federal, state and local partners, has embarked on an ambitious project to increase the population of native oysters in the Lynnhaven River. The Corps mission is ecosystem restoration. A successful project will enhance commercial oyster production on both public and private areas.
Increasing the local oyster population is one of the most effective ways to enhance our water quality. In addition to water quality benefit, oyster reefs provide a myriad of other environmental benefits as well. The reefs act as needed habitat for young fish and crabs, providing both a source of food and protection. One of the Crystal Club's primary initiatives is to facilitate and fund the construction of more sanctuary oyster reefs throughout the Crystal Lake area, thereby helping to improve water quality.
For more information on The Crystal Club initiatives, click here
In the summer of 2006, Lynnhaven River NOW launched a pilot program with eight Virginia Beach restaurants, as well as public donations, to gather and recycle oyster and clam shells which were used to build Athey Island Oyster Reef in the spring of 2008. The pilot program was so successful, that it is now an ongoing program in partnership with the City of Virginia Beach.
To learn more about this program and public drop-off sites, click here.
Have you wondered how you might get more involved with Ly
nnhaven River restoration? Oyster gardening may be just the opportunity that you have been looking for.
Restoring native oysters to the Chesapeake Bay is a high priority for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation
. It is a long-term and large-scale process that requires the participation and commitment of federal and state agencies, and watershed groups, as well as local citizens. Read about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's oyster restoration programs and how you can help bring back the oysters here