ShoreRivers, a nonprofit organization working to improve the health of Eastern Shore waterways through science-based advocacy, restoration, and education, shares that Josh Newmier, a local Boy Scout, teamed up with their organization this fall to focus on local oyster restoration projects that will work towards a cleaner Choptank River. Josh worked to recruit oyster gardeners on the Choptank River and encourage more restaurants to recycle oyster shells.
Josh approached ShoreRivers about an Eagle Scout project that would be meaningful and improve our local environment. After discussing the important role that oysters play by filtering water in the rivers, and learning about the major challenges that the current oyster population faces, Josh decided to be a part of restoring the oyster population.
“Growing up on the Eastern Shore and hearing about the abundance of oysters 50 to 100 years ago as compared to now has motivated me to choose a project relating to oyster restoration," says Josh.
Wasting no time, Josh started educating property owners and boat slip renters about the benefits of oyster gardening. As a result, 23 new property owners, including Dr. Tony Calabro (pictured) and the J.M. Clayton Company, joined the oyster gardening program and are currently growing over 12,000 oysters from spat that will later be planted in sanctuaries.
But this Boy Scout didn’t stop there! Knowing how important oyster shells are to restoration, while so many of them are thrown in the trash, Josh started recruiting local restaurants to recycle their oyster shells. Every week, Josh and his fellow scouts round up the shell from participating restaurants, including Talbot Country Club, Snappers, Portside, Canvasback, and Jimmy and Sooks, and take them to a shell recycling station. From there, the shells will go to the hatchery where they will be planted with oyster spat so they are ready for next season’s oyster gardeners.
“I think that the first step in the oyster restoration process is awareness,” Josh says. “Hopefully by engaging the community, we will help advance the process to recovery.”