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Four Weird Ways to Restore Habitat

Water cannons shoot concrete off a barge to create oyster habitat.

Logging equipment placing logs in Inman Creek for salmon restoration. Image credit: Christopher Blencowe



July 10, 2012

1. Recycling

Recycling: A baby oyster’s favorite place to grow is on other oyster shells. But with declining stocks, there are fewer reefs than there used to be. To help create oyster reefs, many organizations and restaurants now collect used shells, which are placed in brackish water to create new reefs.

2. Outdoor Plumbing

Outdoor Plumbing: When extra shells aren’t available, we sometimes have to use alternative surfaces for oysters to grab onto. In the Chesapeake Bay, we’ve used chunks of concrete from dismantled dams, coal ash, and even—gross but true—old porcelain toilets.

3. Cut Down Trees

Cut Down Trees: The Lorax might not approve, but sometimes we actually need to cut down trees to improve habitat. We use the trees, now called “large woody debris,” to slow down river flow, so that fish can rest in these slow areas and grow stronger.

4. Let Beavers Do the Work

Let Beavers Do the Work: Bridge Creek in Oregon was so eroded that it sank 10 feet deeper than the floodplain, lowering the water table and limiting the habitat the area could support. We encouraged beavers to build dams along the creek (see page 26 within magazine), which helped raise the water levels and increase habitat.