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NEWS | June 14, 2017

Cleaning the bay, one oyster at a time

By Airman 1st Class Anthony Nin Leclerec 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

To help clean the Chesapeake Bay, students from Booker Elementary School teamed up with members of Joint Base Langley-Eustis to build an oyster reef on base, June 8, 2017.


According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, oyster reefs form a complex ecosystem, for filter feeders, like oysters, which contribute to the filtration capacity of the reef.


By building a reef with her students, Karen Brace, Booker Elementary School science teacher, said she hopes that the hands-on experience, paired with knowledge learned in the classroom will help the students better understand their role in providing a healthy environment.


“This was a great opportunity for students to take ownership in their environment, improve water quality, and to restore the oyster population that has declined over the years,” said Christian Dawn, 633rd CES environmental flight water program manager.


After crafting the idea to build an oyster reef, Brace contacted the 633rd Civil Engineer Squadron at JBLE, who agreed to rehome 2,000 baby oysters, which will grow in a cage near the base's marina.


Brace acquired the baby oysters from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which also guided the school through much of the reef-building process. The foundation provided 75 bushels of recycled oyster shells for the students to spread as substrate for the young oysters to live on.


"I thought this was the perfect opportunity to show the community how just recycling shells locally can impact the local environment," said Heather North, CBF oyster restoration specialist.


The NOAA is involved in other oyster restoration projects around the Chesapeake Bay, to include Maryland’s Choptank River complex Harris Creek, the Tred Avon River as well as the Lafayette, Lynnhaven and Piankatank Rivers in Virginia.


The goal of each project is for the oysters to multiply into a healthy new oyster rock and ecosystem, helping create a healthier bay.