Army Corps prepares plan to restore bay oysters

The plan was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as part of the federally directed effort to restore the environmentally battered estuary, the nation’s largest. It concludes that 14 tributaries in Maryland and 10 in Virginia offer the best hope of restoring the oyster.

The tributary restoration and the creation of sanctuaries wouldn’t be cheap to achieve: The Army Corps estimates the cost of building oyster beds, seeding and managing them ranges up to billions of dollars.

Oyster restoration experts said Monday the plan is ambitious, but worthwhile considering the hard-shell’s role in the bay’s health.

Oysters help filter bay waters and provide work for watermen whose numbers have declined, and their reefs provide habitat for hundreds of other species. Like blue crabs and other marine life, the bay’s native oyster populations were devastated by overharvesting, loss of habitat and disease.

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