Winter is the time to make preparations for the Summer Living Shoreline projects! Our goal is to start three living shoreline projects this year--one in June, July, August. We have yet to choose sites. If you own waterfront property, or know someone who does and might be interested, please contact us! With rising sea levels, shoreline erosion is going to get worse. The Virginia General Assembly now has a policy that living shoreline techniques are the preferred stabilization methods for tidal shorelines. Therefore, The Commonwealth is actively promoting the building of "living shorelines" on waterfront property in Virginia by landowners. In fact, there is a non-profit organization, the Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD), which provides funding to reimburse landowners 75% of the cost!
Check it out!
Also, the State has passed a law that prohibits Counties from increasing real estate taxes on properties that have constructed a living shoreline as an improvement to a homeowner's property!
Check out this site about Living Shorelines on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science website: http://www.vims.edu/ccrm/outreach/living_shorelines/index.php
What does this have to do with oysters, you ask?
To make a living shoreline more effective, a Shellfish Reef can be installed parallel to the shoreline that helps break wave action. Think of it as a "speed bump" for waves. That reef can be established by constructing oyster castles arranged in a long line. That way, wild oyster embryos will "set" on the castles and begin the natural process of creating a Shellfish Reef! The reef thus becomes natural, resilient and self-sustaining! Because the reef will be "alive" with oysters and mussels, it will help to clean the water, create habitat for fish, shellfish and other creatures! Landward of the reef, aquatic plants will be rooted to hold the soil and to buffet wave action that crosses over. These plants also create habitat for wildlife and act as a "sponge" to absorb water during tidal flooding.
Each potential site must first be evaluated for suitability for the success of a living shoreline and to incorporate the landowner's plans and desires for uses of portions of their shoreline for a beach, pier or boat launch which would not be acceptable for inclusion in the living shoreline portion of their waterfront property.
Once a site is selected, Oysters Forever will obtain the necessary government permits and manage the project. By using community members as volunteers, labor will be free of charge to the landowner and the community will be provided an opportunity to get involved "hands on" with helping the environment! Let's get going!