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News Release

RI aquaculture oyster growers: Sign-up to participate in USDA oyster reef restoration initiative extended to July 31st

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Specialist
cell: 413-835-1276

Oysters on a gloved hand.

WARWICK, RI, July 24, 2020 – Are you an aquaculture oyster producer in Rhode Island? Do you have reproductively mature, live oysters that are at least 3.5 inches in length?  Would you like to help restore the functions and services of oyster reefs by creating new oyster habitat? 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). The sign-up period has been extended to July 31, 2020.

To reduce impacts from historic overfishing and habitat loss, 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 aquaculture oyster producers participating to provide single, reproductively mature, live oysters and deploying them at approved restoration sites, as well as monitoring these sites after deployment.

While you may apply for NRCS conservation programs at any time, complete oyster reef restoration applications will be evaluated by July 31, 2020 for current funding.

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address natural resource concerns through an array of conservation practices that address 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.