On July 13, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) received a Notice to Comply from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) relating to oyster reef restoration in the Lynnhaven River. The notice revokes permits VMRC approved for CBF and Lynnhaven River NOW (LRN) to construct oyster reefs in the Lynnhaven River. It also requires removal of all oyster reef materials covered by those permits.
CBF Senior Regional Ecosystem Scientist Chris Moore issued the following statement.
“For decades, CBF has been dedicated to saving the Bay. Restoring native oyster reefs is a key part of our strategy. Oyster reefs lead to cleaner water, more underwater habitat, and a stronger local economy.
“In order to grow, oysters must attach to a hard material, and recycled concrete is a scientifically-proven material for building oyster reefs. Oyster reefs constructed with recycled concrete are thriving in waterways across the Chesapeake Bay. Building on that success, we recently began restoring oyster reefs on the Lynnhaven River using a similar strategy, with VMRC-approved crushed concrete as the base.
"To restore Lynnhaven River oyster reefs, CBF and Lynnhaven River NOW formed a partnership. Lynnhaven River NOW was responsible for building the reef’s concrete reef base. CBF was responsible for planting live oysters on the constructed base.
“During the construction phase, CBF and LRN learned from VMRC that a small amount of rebar, asphalt, and other material was included with the approved concrete placed in the river. We also learned that some oyster reef base was located outside of the approved area at one of the reefs. As soon as we were made aware of the issues, we began working with VMRC and LRN to locate and remove these materials and increase construction oversight.
“Despite these efforts, on July 13 we received a request from VMRC to completely remove these reefs.
“It is our mission to protect and restore the health of the Bay and our local rivers. We are deeply sorry for the mistakes made in constructing these oyster reefs. We are currently working closely with our partners, VMRC, and other agencies to determine the best course of action so that we can get back to the shared goal of safely and effectively restoring oysters to the Lynnhaven River. We will make this right.”
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