Virginia Oyster Habitat Declared Restored

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The Lafayette Branch of the Elizabeth River near Norfolk, Virginia, last week became the first Virginia waterway declared restored for oyster habitat by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

"On behalf of the Chesapeake Bay Program, NOAA is excited to mark this important milestone," said Sean Corson, acting director of NOAA's Chesapeake Bay Office. "We were delighted to be part of the effort by funding reef construction and providing needed habitat survey work to guide restoration."

Work on restoring the Lafayette Branch’s oyster reefs started in 2010 and included rebuilding 12 oyster reefs over 32 acres of bottom. The reefs are built up using crushed concrete, rock and recycled oyster shells, and then seeded with baby oysters. In addition to the filtering qualities the oysters impart, oyster reefs provide vital habitat for fish and other aquatic life.

"It's unbelievable that a part of the Elizabeth River, once presumed dead, now leads Virginia for restoration of the native oyster," said Elizabeth River Project executive director Marjorie Mayfield Jackson.