Northam announces $10M investment in oyster restoration
First time Va. has directed capital funds to environment restoration
Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday visited the Elizabeth River Project’s Learning Barge to announce $10 million in funding to support future Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration — marking the first time Virginia capital funds have been directed toward restoring natural resources.
“Virginia has made tremendous progress in improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, reviving oyster habitats, and building a legacy of environmental stewardship,” Northam said in a statement. “This investment is a recognition that our natural assets are just as important as roads and buildings. The new funding stream that I proposed and the General Assembly adopted in our state budget will ensure that we can meet our restoration goals and achieve a clean and healthy bay for the benefit of our communities, our economy and our ecosystems.”
Oysters filter and remove excess nutrients such as nitrogen from the water. Restored oyster reefs also help with shoreline protection and serve as a habitat for fish, crabs and other aquatic life.
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Virginia has restored 240.5 acres of native oyster habitat and is committed to restoring native oyster populations in 10 tributaries by 2025. This summer, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission deployed 10,500 tons of rock and 100,000 bushels of shell to restore 21 acres of oyster habitat in the Elizabeth River.
The $10 million investment announced Thursday will go to restoring the oyster habitat in the Piankatank, Great Wicomico and York rivers.