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FY2022 RCPP-EQIP Aquaculture Program with VMRC


York Reef RestorationThe successful growth and harvesting of shellfish contributes to and depends on good water quality. The Virginia Aquaculture Program is designed to enhance not only the sustainability of aquaculture but also to reduce adverse impacts on water quality for shellfish producers.

NRCS is continuing its longstanding aquaculture partnership with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). Funding is available through a multi-year RCPP project to help oyster growers improve water quality and increase oyster habitat in the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries.


Batching Periods

March 18, 2022 - Application deadline
April 15, 2022 – Ranking deadline for eligible applications received by close of business on 03/18/22.

Chesapeake Bay WatermanOyster Bed Restoration will be implemented using the Virginia Conservation Practice Standard for Restoration and Management of Rare or Declining Habitats (Code 643).  The practice lifespan is 15 years, operator investment and Virginia requirements to work the lease are expected to result in long-term maintenance of the oyster beds.

RCPP applicants for this oyster bed restoration program will need to complete the  Virginia Marine Resources Commission Technical Pre-approval Form (pdf, 367 KB).

General practice requirements for restoring beds are:

  • Bottom preparation - Placing a minimum of 3 inches of oyster shell cultch (approximately 3,000 - 5,000 bushels/acre – depending on site) on approved bottom;

  • Place approximately 1,000 bushels of spat on shell as produced in methods described in the Manual for Remote Setting (; and,

  • Establish a living community of oysters on the bed.

General practice requirements for enhancing beds are (allows restoration of a larger footprint with the same amount of shell and spat on shell overlay):

  • Bottom preparation - Establish a minimum of 2 inches of oyster shell cultch (approximately 1,000 - 3,000 bushels/acre – depending on site) on approved bottom;

  • Place approximately 1,000 bushels of spat on shell as produced in methods described in the Manual for Remote Setting (;and,

  • Establish a living community of oysters on the bed.

Spat Requirements

Spat on cultch must be set on whole or half oyster shells.  Spat set on small shell fragments is not eligible.

Participants must use hatchery-produced larvae for seeding oyster beds; either diploid or triploid, wild or disease resistant oysters.  Diploid oysters may promote natural reproduction (triploids cannot reproduce) and oyster spat recruitment.


If you’re interested in participating in this RCPP Oyster Bed Restoration Initiative, you must first meet VMRC technical eligibility requirements and complete their Technical Pre-approval Form.  Next, you must meet the basic USDA eligibility criteria. Lastly, call or visit one of the seven Virginia USDA Service Centers listed below. Once you receive VMRC approval, these conservationists will also work with you to develop a conservation plan for the leased land.

Ranking Tool Summary (pdf, 113KB) (Documents requires Acrobat Reader)

Virginia 12-Digit HUCS Containing TMDL Streams:Prioritized by Non-Point Source Pollution Risks from Agriculture (used in the local questions), pdf, 3.8MB

Virginia NRCS Aquaculture Program Contacts:

Jeff Jones, State Biologist
1606 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 209, Henrico, VA 23229-5014
PH: 804-287-1636 / Email:

District Conservationist Service Center/Localities Served
Jennifer Templeton
Accomac: Accomack and Northampton counties
Trenton Howell
Chesapeake: Cities of Chesapeake, Virginia Beach,
Portsmouth, and Norfolk
Scott Hammond
Gloucester: Gloucester, Mathews,
and Middlesex counties
Michael Combs
Quinton: Cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson,
Williamsburg, and Richmond and Charles City, New Kent,
James City, York, and Henrico counties
Jake Browder
Smithfield: City of Suffolk and Isle of Wight
and Surry counties
Dwight Forrester
Tappahannock: Essex, King William, and King and
Queen counties
Lucee Kossler
Warsaw: Richmond, Westmoreland, Northumberland,
and Lancaster counties