Oyster Restoration

Our oyster reef restoration programs work with local residents, watermen, river bottom lease holders, partner groups, students, and businesses to protect and restore native oyster reefs in the tidal Rappahannock River. Programs include oyster reef restoration, oyster gardening, and oyster shell recycling. The goals of these programs are to promote a clean and healthy Rappahannock River and its tributaries, enhance habitat for fish and wildlife, restore oyster populations to sustainable levels, and ensure a resilient and bio-diverse broodstock is proliferating in our tidal ecosystems.

Questions about our oyster restoration programs or how to get involved? Email FOR’s Oyster Restoration Specialist Jen Sagan at [email protected]

Clean Carter’s Creek

The Clean Carters Creek initiative is a collaboration of local partners including Kellum Seafood, the Tides Inn, and individual oyster lease owners with the goal to restore oyster habitat within the Creek. Carters Creek provides a unique opportunity for collaborative oyster reef restoration due to high oyster reproduction rates within Carters Creek and active community involvement. We will continue to work on oyster leases within the Creek with the support of our partners by enhancing river bottom into productive oyster reef “sanctuaries”.

Partners: The Tides Inn, Kellum Seafood, The Dog and Oyster Micro-Vineyard, Chesapeake Academy, GreenFin Studio, Chesapeake Bay Foundation

For more info and to donate, visit www.cleancarterscreek.org


Restore Urbanna Creek

The Restore Urbanna Creek initiative is a partnership of local nonprofits, schools, seafood businesses, funders, and the Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation. The goal of this partnership is to restore a thriving population of oysters in Urbanna Creek by conducting oyster education and outreach, monitoring water quality, and restoring oyster reefs on existing leases. Since its inception, we have conducted ongoing reef restoration activities on two oyster leases in the creek, provided educational opportunities for thousands of people, and collected valuable water quality data that is shared and utilized by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).

Partners: Urbanna Oyster Festival Foundation, Shores & Ruark, Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Christchurch School, Oyster Seed Holdings, Green Fin Studio, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, River Counties Community Foundation 

For more info and to donate, visit www.restoreurbannacreek.org


Oyster Shell Recycling

Oyster shell is in high demand for reef restoration, yet many people are unknowingly throwing away an environmentally valuable resource. Recycled shell not only prevents unnecessary waste, but is utilized in restoration projects that provide oyster larvae with a place to settle and grow, thereby forming oyster reefs. These reefs provide food and habitat for native species and attenuate wave action to protect shorelines from erosion. The oysters that grow in these reefs filter the water, taking in excess nutrients and sediment that pollute waterways. FOR is working with local businesses and individuals to promote and expand the recycling of oyster shell throughout the Rappahannock River watershed and beyond. If you are interested in participating in our oyster shell recycling program, please contact Jen Sagan at [email protected]

Have oyster shells to recycle? Drop them off at these locations: FOR Fredericksburg Office, Fredericksburg Food Co-op, Urbanna Town Marina, Reedville Fishermen’s Museum

We are grateful to our participating partners at: Reedville Market, The Dog and Oyster Micro-Vineyard, the Tides Inn, Angelo’s in Montross, Something Different, Ristorante Renatos


Get Involved

  • Volunteer with us or come out to one of our events to get some hands on oyster experience and more!
  • Donate Acreage: If you have leased river bottom in the Rappahannock River or one of the tidal tributaries, consider donating acreage to Friends of the Rappahannock. We will work with you to determine if your lease is a good fit for our oyster reef restoration program.
  • Donate: As a non-profit organization we rely on the generosity of our supporters and partners to help keep our river healthy and make what do possible. Consider supporting our oyster restoration programs by donating below!


You Heard That Right… Spat on Shell

Have you ever held 2 million babies in the palm of your hand? 2 million OYSTER babies, that is. That’s exactly what happened this past summer as we were trying our hand at an oyster spat-on-shell operation with the Tides Inn for the first time. But what is...

Oyster Wars

The Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, has a rich history filled with natural beauty and conflict. One such conflict was the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Wars, a destructive struggle for control over the region’s oyster beds that took place in the late...

A Rising Tide of Capacity: Expanding our Tidal Region Programming

This year has brought significant growth in staff and project capacity for the tidal office based in Tappahannock. For years the office was staffed by a Lower River Steward and periodically by an educator from the education staff. With minimal support, our staff did...

Restoring the Tidal Rappahannock: Oysters & Living Shorelines

Many of us like to eat oysters, but how many of us know about their value beyond how delicious they are and how our shorelines can be the key to their success?  Oysters are an essential part of keeping our Rappahannock River healthy. A single adult oyster filters on...

Subscribe To Our Email Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates about the Rappahannock River and the work we are doing! 

You have Successfully Subscribed!