Oysters in the Chesapeake have faced a number of threats: over-harvesting, disease, sedimentation, and poor water quality. All of those factors have resulted in a severe decline in their numbers.
But the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a plan to change all that by raising oysters in 14 tributaries in Maryland and 10 in Virginia, reports the Associated Press.
The tributary restoration and the creation of sanctuaries wouldn't be cheap. The Army Corps estimates the cost of building oyster beds, and seeding and managing them could cost billions of dollars.
Environment officials say oysters are key in the overall health of the Chesapeake, because they help filter Bay waters, and their reefs provide habitat for hundreds of other species.
The restoration project is part of a federally directed effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay.