News from the DNR Office of Communications

Citizen Oyster Growers And DNR Experts Meet To Evaluate Marylanders Grow Oysters Program

Annapolis, MD (March 10, 2010) — River coordinators from 11 Chesapeake Bay tributaries met today with Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff in Annapolis to prepare for the Marylanders Grow Oysters summer growing season.

“We love this program which I like to call it head-start for oysters,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The participants in the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program are community leaders, inspiring others to become stewards of our waterways and championing the spirit that will help promote a healthy oyster population for generations to come.”

About 20 program sponsors, managers from the DNR Fisheries Service shellfish division and the Oyster Recovery Partnership spent the day highlighting the results from the previous two years and discussing how the program can be improved for the summer.

"The program is very popular and has grown tremendously since 2008, thanks to the local coordinators and all the volunteer growers,” said Shellfish Manager Chris Judy. “The coordinators are great to work with. They bring energy and drive to the program."

Through the Marylanders Grow Oysters program, citizen volunteers tend to young oysters growing in wire mesh cages suspended from private piers for their first year of life. The oyster spat and cages are provided by DNR and other program partners at no charge to the volunteers. The oysters require minimal care – mostly rinsing the cages every two weeks.

"The Marylanders Grow Oysters Program is one of the most significant citizen-involvement projects we have seen throughout the country," said Scott McGuire, chair, Coastal Conservation Association Maryland Government Relations Committee. "In just one year, the program has demonstrated how committed Maryland citizens can be to a clean Chesapeake. Recreational anglers along with many other citizens hope to see the project grow substantially in the coming years."

Citizen oyster growers enjoy the personal rewards of stewardship and learn about oysters while contributing to the enhancement of an oyster reef in their local tributary. The year-old oysters are then collected and planted in a local oyster sanctuary, and a new group of young oysters is distributed to participating growers to start the process again.

Governor O’Malley launched the program in 2008 with nearly 900 oyster cages along the Tred Avon River. DNR expanded the program last year to more than 5,000 cages in a dozen tributaries, with the help of non-governmental organizations. All the cages are built by Maryland inmates.

The Marylanders Grow Oysters Program is managed by the DNR in conjunction with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

For more information about Marylanders Grow Oysters visit:  www.dnr.maryland.gov/oysterproject.

Introduced by Governor Martin O’Malley in October 2008, Maryland’s Smart, Green & Growing initiative was created to strengthen the state’s leadership role in fostering smarter, more sustainable growth and inspiring action among all Marylanders to achieve a more sustainable future. The initiative brings together state agencies, local governments, businesses and citizens to create more livable communities, improve transportation options, reduce the state’s carbon footprint, support resource based industry, invest in green technologies, preserve valuable resource lands and restore the health of the Chesapeake Bay.


   March 10, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov