Md. DNR Oyster Project Brings in Stone to Little Choptank - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Md. DNR Oyster Project Brings in Stone to Little Choptank

Updated: May 27, 2015 10:29 AM
DORCHESTER COUNTY, Md.- It started with one barge on the Little Choptank River. Now there are two. But this second barge is not weighed down with fossilized oyster shells. It is filled with stones instead.

It may not be covered in mud or clay, but watermen are still fired up about this latest development in the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' Little Choptank oyster restoration project.  Stones are now being dumped in the river alongside the fossilized shell.  Scott Todd has been documenting the whole project for a case he and a Dorchester County councilman are working on to put a stop to it.

"It's hard to believe, this whole thing is such a nightmare," Todd said.

He said the granite-like rocks are changing the environment in the river.

"This is the way it's always been since time began, and now they're bringing this in and covering up oysters and crabs and whatever else is on the bottom.  It's just been disheartening to look at it every day," Todd said.

DNR officials said stone is not a random material.  They say in some spots, the stone makes a better substrate that they can then place the fossilized shell, and later oyster spat-on-shell on top of.  They also say it has a proven record of success with stones of this size and type over the past three years in Harris Creek in Talbot County.

Bob Whaples has crabbed in this area for 25 years, but hasn't been able to work in this area all summer long.  He said he supports oyster restoration, but thinks too much is being changed too fast.

"I just think it's too excessive at one time, too much at one time," Whaples said. "I'd much rather see them go down the river and try a small spot first and see if it worked, and then it wouldn't have been so bad."

The injunction to stop the project is still a work in progress.  In the meantime, Todd said he has seen roughly nine barges full of shells, and now stones being dropped in the Little Choptank.

The DNR said the use of stones should not come as a surprise to any of the watermen, because they had discussed at length at a Feb. 27 meeting on the project, and again on April 9 while discussing permits to work in shallower parts of the river.

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