RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Northam was in Norfolk on Thursday to announce a million-dollar investment in restoring the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.
Northam paid a visit to the city to also check out the finished restoration efforts to increase the number of oysters in part of the Elizabeth River.
Oysters help filter and remove excess nutrients like nitrogen from the water which improves the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and helps it recover from pollution.
Restored oyster reefs also provide critical ecosystem services including shoreline protection and habitat for fish, crabs, and other aquatic life.
The governor stated the investment is a $10 million commitment, which marks the first time state funds that are usually spent on infrastructure will go toward restoring the commonwealth's natural resources.
“Virginia has made tremendous progress in improving water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, reviving oyster habitats, and building a legacy of environmental stewardship,” said Governor Northam. “This investment is a recognition that our natural assets are just as important as roads and buildings. The new funding stream that I proposed and the General Assembly adopted in our state budget will ensure that we can meet our restoration goals and achieve a clean and healthy Bay for the benefit of our communities, our economy, and our ecosystems.”
This $10 million investment will support efforts to create and restore oyster habitat in the Piankatank, Great Wicomico, and York Rivers.
The state was committed to restoring native oyster populations in 10 tributaries by 2025 in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement.
Over the summer, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission deployed thousands of resources to restore 21 acres of oyster habitat in the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River. The completion of this project marks further progress to improve the health of the Bay.
The restoration of the Lafayette River was completed in 2019 and work in the Lynnhaven River is ongoing.