Pre-Site Assessment

oysters on table reef monitoringEnvironmental restoration can be complex and costly. Before engaging in restoration, it is important to collect baseline data and determine what needs to be done to restore ecological function. In order to determine where and how to best restore oyster reef habitat, ORP often conducts pre-construction habitat assessments. Using bathymetry and bottom type, preliminary habitat types can be classified for a tributary of interest. Typically, the following bottom types are considered to be restorable: anthropogenic oyster rubble, sand with shell, biogenic oyster rubble, and muddy sand with shell. Spatial analysis allows us to eliminate areas of potential conflict, such as submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds, areas within a certain distance of aquaculture leases, and areas close to US Coast Guard navigational aids. Sampling the existing habitat with patent-tongs is how we learn about the density of dead and live oysters, presence of fouling organisms like barnacles and mussels, and firmness of substrate. Such information is needed to determine which restoration activity is best suited for a particular area. The goal is to ensure that oysters are planted in places that are suitable for growth and survivorship.

St. Mary’s Pre-Site Assessment