The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) this week awarded two grants for oyster restoration in the Lynnhaven River to Lynnhaven River NOW (LRNow) and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF). Together, the two grants of approximately $500,000 each will lead to 15 acres of new Lynnhaven oyster reef stocked with 15 million spat-on-shell oysters.
These grants, combined with similar NFWF grants awarded in the previous two years to CBF and LRNow, will add a total of 26 acres of new reef in the Lynnhaven to be built in 2021 and 2022. These reefs will provide a host of benefits to the region, including improvements in water quality and numerous commercial and recreational fisheries. CBF and LRNow will work with the City of Virginia Beach and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to ensure they are sited in areas that will complement other river uses, including navigation.
The Lynnhaven is one of 10 Chesapeake Bay tributaries targeted for oyster restoration. These grants offer the final piece of funding needed for the long-term effort to achieve thriving oyster habitat on 152 acres in the Lynnhaven. Partners in this effort include the City of Virginia Beach, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
LRNow Executive Director Karen Forget issued the following statement.
“These funds will enable us to get to our goal of 152 acres of sanctuary oyster reef in the Lynnhaven River. This is the acreage that scientists have established as necessary to maintain a healthy native oyster population in this thriving and productive estuary. The new reefs in the Eastern Branch cap twenty years of work by many partners to reach this goal and bring the benefits of a thriving native oyster population to the Lynnhaven River.
“We appreciate the support of our community and the City of Virginia Beach as well as the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Virginia Marine Resources Commission, and our partner, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Many partners, including our Virginia Beach residents, have contributed to this success.”
CBF Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager Jackie Shannon issued the following statement.
“These new sanctuary oyster reefs will generate major benefits to the community, including cleaner water, better commercial and recreational fishing, and new homes for a wide array of underwater life. Using our one-of-a-kind oyster barge to raise millions of baby oysters will jump-start the oyster population on these reefs. We’re proud to be part of the team effort to dramatically restore the oyster population in the Lynnhaven River.
“NFWF grants have been crucial for both restoring 10 targeted Bay tributaries for oyster habitat and supporting the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance goal of adding 10 billion oysters to the Bay by 2025. Thanks to NFWF, LRNow, and many other partners, Lynnhaven River oysters are coming back.”