Oyster Highway in New River is officially on the cards

JACKSONVILLE, NC (WNCT) – The Oyster Highway in New River is officially on the cards.

The highway is part of an ongoing effort to restore the health of the river since the 1990s by creating reefs made of oysters. Now, these reefs will be marked on maps as the “most important fishing spots” in the waterway.

Since 2019, over 10 million oysters have been deployed to New River, helping to continue to improve water quality and attract marine life.

“The New River begins and ends in Onslow County, that’s our responsibility,” said City of Jacksonville Stormwater and Soil Control and Erosion Manager Pat Donovan-Brandenburg.

Flashback to the 90s, New River has been degraded by years of sewage dumped there. So city officials, scientists and volunteers came up with a plan to restore it.

“The Oyster Highway is just an extension of the Wilson Bay initiative, which is something we started 2,325 years ago, which was to clean up a polluted body of water that you use through sluices “, said Donovan-Brandenburg.

Now – here we are with signs off New River Air Station saying “Reef Number 12”. So how does it all work?

“Oysters filter out heavy organics, pollutants, heavy metals, they incorporate them into their tissues as they pull them out of the water column,” Donovan-Brandenburg said.

This improves the stream and its environment, one oyster at a time.

“Reefs in general, so, I mean, not only do they clean the water, they provide recreational benefits or enhancements, business enhancements, and also benefit wildlife,” said Aaron Houran, quality technician at Jacksonville city water. .

All of this has been made possible through state and regional grants, donations, and partnerships. In the future they will continue to monitor and add to the reefs for the good of the river.

“Although it’s a small watershed, to prove that this type of concept, and it’s not rocket science, but it’s science, to put the same habitat that was here, long before the man, putting it back together is crucial,” Donovan-Brandenburg said.

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