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News Release

RI aquaculture oyster growers: Sign up to participate in USDA oyster reef restoration initiative by March 18th

Diane Petit, Public Affairs Specialist (media contact)

An oyster shell

WARWICK, RI, February 18, 2022 – Attention aquaculture oyster producers in Rhode Island:  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 18, 2022.

To reduce impacts from historic overfishing and habitat loss, NRCS is continuing work 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 sites available for reef restoration this year are located in the following biosecurity zones: Bissel Cove, Ninigret Pond and Potter/Point Judith Ponds.

“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. “Oysters are the foundation of that habitat structure and without them, the services they provide would be degraded or absent.”

The restoration work includes aquaculture producers growing spat-on-shell oysters 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 for current 2022 funding if received by March 18, 2022.

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.