Oyster Restoration in the Lynnhaven River

Lynnhaven River has been the center of many community-based restoration and oyster shell recycling efforts over the past few decades, including significant reef construction by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In addition, NOAA, state efforts like the Virginia Oyster Heritage Program, and nonprofit organizations including Lynnhaven River NOW, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Oyster Reef Keepers of Virginia have performed smaller-scale restoration involving students and citizen groups. Most of these projects have involved the creation of artificial reefs and adding spat-on-shell to these reefs. These projects have seen some measureable progress and have increased the oyster population in the Lynnhaven dramatically.

The Lynnhaven was chosen for restoration as one of the 10 tributaries to be restored by 2025 under the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement partly because of these previous efforts, its sufficient water quality, and evidence that Lynnhaven oysters have developed some resistance to disease. In addition, it is one of only three tributaries in Virginia that are currently closed to oyster harvesting (except aquaculture), which will allow existing and implemented populations to grow and reproduce. 

Partners working to restore oysters to the Lynnhaven River have developed Lynnhaven Oyster Restoration Plan: A Blueprint for Restoring Oyster Populations per the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement, which was released in October 2018.

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