Restoring the Reefs

Eastchester Bay west of City Island has long been impacted by poor wastewater sanitation,
landfill runoff, dredging for shipping channels, erosion, and sedimentation, all of which have 
prevented the natural restoration of oyster populations. Thanks to a generous grant from
the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Long Island Sound Futures Fund, City Island
Oyster Project will be able to complete design and permitting over the next two years for two oyster reefs in the waters around City Island. CIOR scientists, community volunteers, and experts are monitoring water-quality parameters and measuring the growth of oysters at five potential sites. CIOR volunteers will monitor Oyster Research Stations (ORS), provided by the Billion Oyster Project, at the sites through October 2022, and the data on oyster growth and mortality from the monitoring sessions will be used to inform the selection of the final sites. Dive surveys are being conducted under the leadership of Mike Carew, owner of Captain Mike’s Dive Shop on City Island.

In addition, water quality will be monitored by Save the Sound and CIOR volunteers at the five sites, and divers will map the bottom in order to assess possible stressors and threats, such as sedimentation, erosive shoreline, pollution, and the amount of accumulated silt. Once the oyster reef sites have been selected, specially engineered structures will be put in place, and cured shell material will be added in order to promote reef formation. This will eventually increase larvae exchange and connect the various remnant oyster populations. 

The two final sites will be selected based upon their suitability to support a growing oyster population and to enhance biodiversity, protect the shoreline from erosion and storm surges, and support the cleaning of local waters. A key aspect of the project will be to provide environmental education for the public and to sponsor activities involving the local community. This will include the expansion of an outdoor educational center behind P.S. 175 to teach students of all ages about the importance of protecting coastal habitats and the health of Long Island Sound.

Also assisting in the project are the Hudson River Foundation and the Cornell Cooperative
Extension Marine Program of Suffolk County

This important endeavor has been made possible through the generous commitment of time, expertise, and energy from the City Island community, along with CIOR’s board members and advisors. Our grassroots effort to restore the Sound could not exist without the extraordinary teamwork of our neighbors and residents, restaurants, and like-minded partners. The NFWF grant represents an exciting step forward and provides many opportunities for the community to participate in our work. If you are interested in becoming involved, check out our volunteer opportunities or contact us.

CIOR does not in any way promote the harvesting or consumption of the oysters we are working to restore, and our goals are strictly limited to improving the environment and enriching biodiversity in the waters surrounding City Island.