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
- 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
- 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