Boy Scout Josh Newmier helps with Chop­tank River oys­ter restora­tion

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EAS­TON — ShoreRivers re­cently teamed up with Josh Newmier, a high school stu­dent and mem­ber of Boy Scout Troop 190, to re­cruit oys­ter gar­den­ers on the Chop­tank River and en­cour­age more restau­rants to re­cy­cle oys­ter shells.

In fall 2018, Newmier ap­proached ShoreRivers about an Ea­gle Scout pro­ject that would be mean­ing­ful and im­prove our lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. Af­ter dis­cussing the im­por­tant role that oys­ters play by fil­ter­ing water in rivers, and learn­ing about the ma­jor chal­lenges that the cur­rent oys­ter pop­u­la­tion faces, Josh de­cided to be a part of restor­ing the Chop­tank’s oys­ter pop­u­la­tion.

“Grow­ing up on the East­ern Shore and hear­ing about the abun­dance of oys­ters 50 to 100 years ago, as com­pared to now, mo­ti­vated me to choose a pro­ject re­lated to oys­ter restora­tion,” Newmier said.

Newmier be­gan iden­ti­fy­ing and ed­u­cat­ing prop­erty own­ers and boat slip renters about the ben­e­fits of oys­ter gar­den­ing. As a re­sult, 23 new oys­ter gar­den­ers, in­clud­ing the J.M. Clay­ton Com­pany, joined the Mary­lan­ders Grow Oys­ters (MGO) pro­gram. These new grow­ers are cur­rently grow­ing over 12,000 baby oys­ters (spat) that will be trans­planted to sanctuaries in spring 2019.

But Newmier didn’t stop there. Know­ing how im­por­tant oys­ter shells are to restora­tion, while so many of them are dis­carded, Newmier re­cruited lo­cal restau­rants to re­cy­cle their oys­ter shells.

Ever y week, Newmier and his fel­low scouts col­lect resid­ual shells from par­tic­i­pat­ing restau­rants — in­clud­ing Tal­bot Coun­try Club, Snap­pers, Port­side, Can­vas­back, and Jimmy & Sooks — and take them to shell re­cy­cling sta­tions at Eas­ton Point and Horn Point in Cam­bridge. From there, the shells go to the hatch­ery where they be­come sub­strate for spat used by the next sea­son’s oys­ter gar­den­ers.

In a win-win sce­nario, Newmier has re­ceived a State of Mary­land DNR Shell Re­cy­cling Col­lec­tor cer­tifi­cate which al­lows him to sub­mit re­ports that qual­ify busi­nesses to claim tax cred­its for re­cy­cling oys­ter shell.

“I think the first step in the oys­ter restora­tion process is aware­ness,” Newmier said. “Hope­fully by en­gag­ing the com­mu­nity, we will help ad­vance the process to re­cover y.”

Chop­tank River­keeper Matt Pluta over­saw the pro­ject. “It’s great to see young peo­ple tak­ing ini­tia­tive like this,” he said. “Ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased oys­ter stock as­sess­ment, there has been a 50% re­duc­tion in the Ch­e­sa­peake oys­ter pop­u­la­tion since 1999. If we’re se­ri­ous about clean­ing up the Chop­tank, it’s go­ing to take con­certed ef­forts from ev­ery level.”

For more in­for­ma­tion about ShoreRivers’ Mary­lan­der’s Grow Oys­ters pro­gram, con­tact Re­becca Mur­phy at rmur­[email protected] or 443-385-0511.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Boy Scout Josh Newmier with Dr. Tony Cal­abro, one of 23 new oys­ter gar­den­ers re­cruited as part of Newmier’s Ea­gle Scout pro­ject.

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