Master Plan to Restore Native Oyster Population in Chesapeake Ba - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Master Plan to Restore Native Oyster Population in Chesapeake Bay

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TILGHMAN ISLAND, Md.- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced a master plan that aims to restore the native oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in Maryland and Virginia. 

"We are looking at the Tier 1 tributaries that are currently sanctuaries and there are a lot of them," said Corps Project Manager Clair O'Neill. And we are looking at those to see where we can do restoration work. That will take a lot of money and a lot of time."

O'Neill says it could cost up to $6.5 billion for all of the Tier 1 tributaries that are identified in the master plan. The goal is to restore the bay and create 62 sanctuaries in its tributaries. One of the biggest areas is Tangier Sound in both Maryland and Virginia. The hope is to restore nearly 9,400 acres with oyster beds. 

Waterman Bunky Chance said Harris Creek was made a sanctuary two years ago and it hit lot of watermen where it counts: their wallets. He cannot imagine what will happen if more oyster grounds become offlimits to watermen. He said, "There will be more foreclosures, more truck repossesions and more people on the unemployment line for the citizens of this state to have to support, it's that simple, and not to mention the heritage that's involved. This is not just a job. It's a way of life." 

The master plan is looking to restore the oyster population while watermen just want to know that they have a place to catch them. 

According to O'Neill, it could take 10 years or more for this plan to be completed. 

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