The MD - DNR has undertaken the following goals as part of this Harness Creek Restoration Project:
Oyster reefs and bay grasses are the two most important habitats in the
Chesapeake Bay. Bay Grasses not only improve water quality, they also provide
food and shelter for waterfowl, fish and shellfish and protect shorelines from
erosion. In addition to providing all of the same ecosystem services as bay
grass beds, oyster reefs also filter algae and sediments from the water column.
Algae and sediment clouding the water column, and blocking light from
penetrating the water column is a major cause of decline in bay grass
populations. It is hypothesized that if the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration
Goals set forth in the
Agreement are met, that increased numbers of oysters could remove enough
suspended material (algae and sediments) from the water column to increase light
penetration to the bottom, a critical step for bay grass survival and
resurgence. The objective of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of
native oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in improving water quality
specifically to support bay grass restoration, growth and survival. Existing
oyster reefs in Harness Creek, South River, Maryland, will be augmented with
additional oyster spat to increase the filtering capacity of the oyster reef.
Once these enlarged oyster reefs provide significant increases in water quality,
bay grass restoration plantings will take place inshore of the oyster reef.
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