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.

The Plan targets 377 acres in Harris Creek for oyster restoration. Since 2011, 258 of those acres have been constructed, with funding from NOAA, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and USACE. In 2015, an additional 57 acres of reefs are expected to be constructed, and additional seeding will take place. 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.

How Close Are Oysters in Harris Creek to Being "Restored"?