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News Release

RI aquaculture oyster growers: Sign up to participate in USDA oyster reef restoration initiative by March 19th

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Officer
401-822-8843, mobile 413-835-1276

Oysters under water

WARWICK, RI, February 16, 2021 – Are you an aquaculture oyster producer in Rhode Island? Will you have reproductively mature oysters that will be at least 3.5 inches in length in the spring or fall of 2021? 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) by March 19, 2021.

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. The restoration work requires participating aquaculture oyster producers provide single, reproductively mature oysters and deploy them at approved restoration sites, as well as monitoring these sites after deployment.

“Oyster reefs provide essential habitat and are an integral and critical component of restoring coastal ecosystems,” said Pooh Vongkhamdy, State Conservationist for NRCS in Rhode Island. “The oysters themselves are the foundation of that habitat structure and without them, the services they provide would be degraded or absent.”

While you may apply for NRCS conservation programs at any time, complete oyster reef restoration applications will be evaluated if received by March 19, 2021 for current funding in 2021.

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 the USDA-NRCS Rhode Island office:

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.