Oyster Restoration in Harris Creek

In September 2010, the State of Maryland declared Harris Creek an oyster sanctuary from which oyster harvest is prohibited. It was selected for restoration based on its sanctuary status as well as its salinity, water quality, circulation, and existing oyster reefs. The restoration process on this tributary is a large-scale collaborative effort involving several state and federal agencies, and guided by the Harris Creek Oyster Restoration Tributary Plan, created by the Maryland Interagency Workgroup of the Sustainable Fisheries Goal Implementation Team.

To inform this Plan, extensive mapping efforts were made by the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office and the Maryland Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) evaluated water quality and historic oyster bar location. NOAA also commissioned an oyster population survey to determine the extent and density of today's oyster population.

Following a predetermined plan, just over 350 acres of oyster reef habitat were restored in Harris Creek. The final load of the initial restoration oysters was deployed onto the restored reefs in September 2015. These reefs will be periodically monitored, with a final evaluation performed after six years to determine if several year classes have survived and meet the restoration criteria.