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RI aquaculture oyster growers: sign up to participate in USDA oyster reef restoration initiative by Aug. 16th

Diane Petit

Dumping oysters as part of an oyster restoration project.

WARWICK, RI, July 11, 2019 –- Are you an aquaculture oyster producer in Rhode Island? Would you like to help restore the functions and values of oyster reefs by creating new reefs in approved areas.? The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages you to apply for financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) by Aug. 16, 2019.

To reverse the effects of overfishing and habitat change, NRCS is working with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to restore oyster reefs in protected water bodies as part of the Rhode Island Oyster Restoration Initiative.

“Oyster reefs provide essential ecological habitat and are an integral and critical component of restoring coastal habitat,” said Pooh Vongkhamdy, State Conservationist for NRCS in Rhode Island. “The oysters themselves are the keystone of that habitat structure and without them, the habitat will not persist.”

The restoration work involves obtaining approved spat-on-shell grown by participating aquaculture oyster producers and deploying them at approved restoration sites, as well as obtaining and deploying cultch, a mass of oyster shells on which the live oysters are placed where the reef will form.

While you may apply for NRCS conservation programs at any time, complete oyster reef restoration applications will be evaluated by Aug. 16th for current funding.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest land owners to address natural resource concerns through an array of conservation practices. Assistance is available to support private land owners and managers in addressing farm, field, forest, wildlife, water, and/or plant management issues.

For more information, contact your local conservation district or the USDA-NRCS Rhode Island office:

Eastern RI Conservation District
Serving Newport and Bristol counties

Northern RI Conservation District
Serving Providence County

Southern RI Conservation District
Serving Kent and Washington counties

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
60 Quaker Lane, Suite 46
Warwick, RI 02886

NRCS is a federal agency that works hand-in-hand with conservation districts and the people of Rhode Island to improve and protect soil, water and other natural resources.