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University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies (UMCES) Reef Ball Project: The Sandy Point Integrated Ecosystem Restoration (SPIER) Initiative by UMCES is a restoration and habitat project planned for the late spring/early summer. The project is located at the tip of Sandy Point on Solomons Island, Calvert County, Md. in the shallow water adjacent to the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory (CBL). MES agreed to fund, through the CBT/FAF and Abell grants, the procurement and transportation of 100 Reef Balls as part of the SPIER initiative. Deployment is expected to take place in the late spring, early summer, 2005. HORN POINT, Md. -- During the summer and fall of 2002 UMCES researchers teamed with private and state agencies to create the 6-acre Memorial Stadium Oyster Reef Sanctuary, created with rubble from Baltimore's famous arena. An innovative oyster reef restoration project, it was a joint project among the Center, private and state agencies and was aimed at restoring oyster in the upper Chesapeake Bay where oyster reefs were once abundant. For the Memorial Stadium project, Dr. Donald "Mutt" Meritt and Horn Point Laboratory Shellfish Culture Facility technicians at UMCES were charged with populating 14 concrete reef balls designed for the project with oyster spat. Reef balls are commonly used in coral reef restoration but this project was the first time they were used for oyster spat. Using more than 20 million oyster larvae, the reef balls were set at the culture facility for a week before being transported into the lab's nursery in the Choptank River, done with the assistance of the Oyster Recovery Partnership. On October 3, the reef balls along with 10,000 cubic yards of rubble were planted at the reef site, three miles of Tolchester beach in Kent County. This project was one of over 15 oyster restoration projects created in 2002 that utilized the over 73 million oyster spat produced in 2002 at the Center's culture facility. The shellfish culture facility at Horn Point in a cooperative partnership with the Oyster Recovery Partnership produces more than 90 percent of all culture-produced oyster spat in the state. Oyster larvae and spat produced in this facility are used to support the University's research, education, and outreach programs and is a major contributor to culture-based oyster restoration projects around Maryland. Partners in the Memorial Stadium Oyster Reef project include: Maryland Environmental Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Department of the Environment, Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman?s Association, Coastal Conservation Association, Oyster Recovery Partnership, NOAA Chesapeake Bay office, Maryland Watermen?s Association, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, UMCES and others.

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