HAMPTON ROADS UPDATE
|From the Desk of Christy Everett
Restoring Oysters and Gearing up for the 25th Annual Clean the Bay Day!
April 24 was a great day for CBF Hampton Roads as we celebrated two ongoing successes for Bay restoration: Clean the Bay Day and Lafayette River oysters.
At a press conference at the U.S. Navy's Lafayette River Complex in Norfolk, CBF and its partners celebrated the official launch of the 25th anniversary of Clean the Bay Day and recognized organizations and individuals who have played an integral role in the event's success through the years.
Though it began with a small group of Virginia Beach citizens concerned about trash on shorelines and streets, Clean the Bay Day has grown to become a statewide tradition, with nearly 7,000 volunteers pitching in each year at hundreds of cleanup sites across Virginia. Since 1989, Clean the Bay Day has engaged more than 122,000 volunteers, who have removed approximately 5.8 million pounds of debris from nearly 5,500 miles of shoreline.
At the press event, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources Anthony Moore announced that for the first time, every state park within the Chesapeake Bay watershed, from the Shenandoah Valley to the Eastern Shore, will offer clean-up sites at this year's event on Saturday, June 1, from 9 a.m.-noon. Click here to register for this year's Clean the Bay Day.
Also speaking at the press conference was Rear Admiral Tim Alexander, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, who told the crowd how proud the Navy is to participate in the popular clean-up event year after year. Navy volunteers have come out in force since the first Clean the Bay Day 25 years ago.
CBF President Will Baker noted that while every partner is essential to this annual success, the 25th Anniversary Clean the Bay Day Hero Awards honor those groups and individuals who have made extraordinary contributions. Customized awards, handmade from driftwood and recycled soda cans, were warmly received as CBF Hampton Roads Grassroots Coordinator Tanner Council presented Clean the Bay Day Hero Awards: to the U.S. Navy; the cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach; and citizens Christopher and Donna Bennett, Mike Kirsch, Steve Pahno, Sharon Smith, and Steve White.
Providing an inspiring backdrop for the April 24 celebration, both of CBF's uniquely designed oyster restoration vessels, Chesapeake Gold from Gloucester and the Patricia Campbell from Maryland, teamed up with staff and volunteers to plant a record 275 reef balls on the Lafayette River bottom!
Reef balls are dome-shaped concrete structures that provide a hard surface for oysters to attach. They provide good alternative oyster habitat for rivers like the Lafayette that no longer have hard surfaces that growing oysters need to survive and flourish. The reefs are funded by the Rotary Club of Norfolk and constructed by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Later this year, more reef balls will be placed on Elizabeth River Project's (ERP) new reef at the Willowood Bridge and along the shoreline of the Norfolk Zoo. This initiative is possible due to generous funding provided by Restore America's Estuaries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Harvest of oysters has been banned on the Lafayette since the 1920s due to contamination associated with industrial activities and stormwater runoff. In 2011, CBF, the ERP, and more than 100 community partners announced a plan to restore the Lafayette. Clean the Bay Day and the Lafayette River oyster restoration work will help achieve that goal. They both exemplify the success that can be achieved when local governments, businesses, and citizens work together to improve water quality.
Hampton Roads Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation