(WASHINGTON, DC)—The Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) applauded the House Appropriations Committee for including $5 million for oyster restoration and rehabilitation in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ fiscal year 2021 spending plan. The funds are allocated in the Energy and Water Development spending bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee today by a vote of 30-21.
CBF also welcomes the House Appropriations Committee’s support of the Corps’ work on the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Recovery program, which is part of theChesapeake Bay Comprehensive Water Resources and Restoration Plan.
This money is essential to advancing large-scale oyster restoration efforts integral to restoring and preserving the Chesapeake Bay. Oysters provide a number of ecosystem services, including habitat stabilization and carbon sequestration. They also are natural water filters that in large numbers can remove excess nitrogen and phosphorus from the water.
The Corps will use the funding to continue its work building oyster reef habitat. The agency’s current oyster restoration budget is $5 million.
Restoration work in the Bay has been completed, is underway, or is planned in Maryland’s Harris Creek and the Tred Avon, Little Choptank, St. Mary’s, and Manokin rivers and Virginia’s Lafayette, Lynnhaven, Piankatank, Lower York, and Great Wicomico rivers.
In addition to playing an integral role in cleaning up the Bay and several of its tributaries, oyster reefs provide critical habitat for crabs, fish, shrimp, and other marine life. Oysters are also central to the Bay region’s multibillion-dollar seafood industry. That’s why CBF and its partners in the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance are committed to adding 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025.
CBF Federal Executive Director Jason Rano made the following statement about the bill:
“Oysters are a keystone species in the Chesapeake Bay and vital to ensuring the region’s multibillion-dollar seafood industry thrives. By acting as natural filters, oysters are integral to the success of efforts to clean up and preserve the Bay.
“But the oyster population is hovering at historically low levels. These funds will help significantly advance oyster recovery in ten tributaries in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. CBF applauds this important continued investment in restoring the health of the Bay.
“CBF thanks Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Appropriations Committee members Dutch Ruppersberger, Andy Harris, Matt Cartwright, and the entire bipartisan House Bay Delegation for their commitment to ensuring this essential federal funding is available again next year. We also thank Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur and Ranking Member Mike Simpson for making oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay a priority for the Corps of Engineers.”