Oyster Habitat Restoration Program

With the understanding that an estimated 90% of historic oyster habitat has been lost, the CHNEP and its partners began a concerted effort to restore oyster habitat throughout the estuaries within the CHNEP region in 2012. The Southwest Florida Oyster Working Group (SWF OWG) was convened to guide the development of the CHNEP Oyster Habitat Restoration Plan. The Plan was produced through a partnership between the CHNEP and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), with contributions from numerous partners. The purpose of the Plan is to provide a technically sound, consensus-based approach for identifying oyster habitat restoration goals, methods and partnerships for the estuaries within the CHNEP region.

The long-term CHNEP goal is to enhance and restore self-sustaining oyster habitat and related ecosystem services throughout the estuaries and tidal rivers and creeks. The following short-term goals were developed to drive progress towards the long-term goal:

  • Map oyster habitats by type within the CHNEP by 2020
  • Design, implement, and monitor the success of pilot oyster restoration projects in a variety of habitats in 50% of the estuary segments within the CHNEP region by 2020
  • Increase public awareness of the ecosystem value of native oyster habitats by including community stewardship components in each oyster restoration project
  • Assist partners in seeking state, federal, and organizational funding opportunities to support oyster habitat restoration projects

Reports, Data, & Tools

Reports & Tools

Southwest Florida Oyster Working Group and Subcommittee

Monitoring Data

Volunteer Oyster Habitat Monitoring Data Entry Forms

Oyster Habitat Restoration Progress

Mapping

Mapping was completed by Sarasota County for the Sarasota County portion of the CHNEP study area, and the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve is currently mapping intertidal oysters within Estero Bay. Funding is being sought for additional mapping.

Pilot Restoration Projects

New restoration projects have been implemented by CHNEP partners in the Tidal Peace River, headed up by TNC along with the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves (CHAP), and in San Carlos Bay, headed up by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) along with Lee County. Both projects included monitoring to evaluate the initial success of the restoration. The SWF OWG has also identified priority restoration sites for implementation as funding and permitting allow, and the group is working towards streamlining permitting.

Outreach/Stewardship

Volunteers were involved in the oyster restoration projects implemented by TNC/CHAP and SCCF/Lee County. The CHNEP is continuing the involvement of volunteers by developing a Volunteer Oyster Habitat Monitoring program which will enable volunteers to assist as Citizen Scientists. The volunteers are being trained to monitor a variety of metrics, including live oyster size and density, reef area, reef height, crown conch density, and water quality (temperature and salinity). The volunteer collected data will be used to evaluate restoration success over time, while using methodology consistent with the Oyster Habitat Restoration: Monitoring and Assessment Handbook.

Partnership Development

Grant funding was received by the CHNEP from the Florida Coastal Management Program and NOAA to design and test the Volunteer Oyster Habitat Monitoring program mentioned above. Funding is also being sought for oyster habitat mapping and restoration.

Project Map

  • Oyster Restoration Projects
  • Estuary Segments

Project Contacts

 

* Many additional partners have been instrumental in planning efforts and are identified in Appendix A of the CHNEP Oyster Habitat Restoration Plan.

This webpage was funded in part, through a grant agreement from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Florida Coastal Management Program, by a grant provided by the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Award No. NA15NOS90096. The views, statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the State of Florida, NOAA or any of their subagencies.

Published June 2016