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Public Invited to Discuss Harris Creek Oyster Restoration Efforts

St. Michaels, Md. (March 13, 2012) ─ The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) along with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will present plans for major oyster restoration efforts in Harris Creek from 1 to 7 p.m. on March 21 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. This open house allows for participants to stop by at their convenience to learn about the project and share their thoughts.

“The purpose of this open house is to learn about any concerns people may have about the project and to discuss the options for making it 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.”

Harris Creek borders the east side of Tilghman Island near the mouth of the Choptank River. The area’s oyster restoration efforts are in line with President Obama's 2009 Chesapeake Bay Executive Order to Restore the Chesapeake Bay, which sets the goal of restoring self-sustaining oyster populations to 10 Maryland tributaries by 2025. The area was picked by scientists from the three agencies because of its high likelihood to succeed.

At the open house, agency representatives will present current side-scan sonar maps of Harris Creek, oyster population estimates, details of the restoration plan and the options for planting new bottom substrate material in the creek. The intent of the project is to expand the footprint of historic oyster bars in the creek to about 300 acres and to seed the reefs with spat on shell and adult oysters to foster reproduction, stability and growth.

With the passage of a proposed $7.5 million for oyster restoration in Governor O’Malley’s 2013 budget, large-scale reef restoration could begin this year. The Army Corps of Engineers is scheduled to start placing substrate in 22 acres of the creek this summer.

These sanctuary restoration projects are aimed at enhancing and protecting oyster populations 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 habitat.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is located at 213 North Talbot Street in St. Michaels.

For information on the science behind oyster restoration, visit the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office’s website at chesapeakebay.noaa.gov.

To learn more about Governor Martin O’Malley’s Oyster Restoration and Aquaculture plan, visit dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/oysters/index.asp.

Stay up-to-date on regulatory proposals and other important DNR Fisheries topics by subscribing to the DNR Fisheries email list at dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/emailcontact.asp.

Keep up with DNR fisheries information through Twitter (@MDDNRFISH) and on Facebook facebook.com/MDDNRFisheriesService.


   March 13, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov