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

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, visit www.restoreurbannacreek.com/


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: June Parker Marina, Fredericksburg Office

We are grateful to our participating partners at: The Dog and Oyster Micro-Vineyard, Reedville Market, Fishhawk at Tides Inn


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!


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