The Nature Conservancy Receives Moose Plate Grant to Restore Oysters in the Great Bay Estuary

NH motorists help to restore native oyster population and improve water quality.

Newmarket, NH | December 21, 2011

The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter (TNC) announced today that it has received a $24,000 grant from the New Hampshire Conservation License Plate Program to continue its efforts to restore native oysters in the Great Bay estuary by rebuilding an oyster reef at the mouth of the Squamscott River in Newmarket.

“Funding from the New Hampshire Moose plate program has been an essential ingredient in The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to begin rebuilding oyster reefs in the Great Bay,” said Dr. Ray Konisky, director of marine science for the Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter.  “Because of the support of tens-of-thousands of our friends and neighbors who volunteer and contribute a little extra every year for a Moose plate, the Nature Conservancy is able to restore native oysters’ right here in the waters of New Hampshire.”

Annually, New Hampshire motorists are able to purchase a special $30 “Moose Plate” to support the protection and restoration of the state’s natural, historic and cultural heritage.  This grant follows on a 2009 award which enabled the Nature Conservancy to successfully reconstruct reefs in the Oyster River and Lamprey River.

Because of disease, excessive siltation and over-harvest, New Hampshire’s Great Bay has lost 90% of the natural oyster beds since 1990.   Oysters are important to the estuary system as they filter out excess nutrients, provide reef habitat to a diversity of fish, and produce a local food source.  One adult oyster filters 20 gallons of water per day – removing substantial amounts of algae and harmful nitrogen from the system.

In 2009, scientists from the Nature Conservancy and the University of New Hampshire developed a method to begin rebuilding reefs acre by acre.  Using tons of reclaimed oyster and clam shell, the Nature Conservancy and partner organizations have successfully added over four acres of reef and about 1 million oysters to the Great Bay Estuary- a significant boost to the system.  The grant from the Moose plate program will enable the Conservancy to continue efforts to add oysters into the estuary, helping to improve water quality.

“With this investment, the Moose plate program is continuing to make a positive impact in the overall health and water quality of the Great Bay,” concluded Konisky.  “We encourage more New Hampshire motorists to purchase a Moose Plate and support oyster restoration efforts - along with the other worthy conservation activities that this important program supports across our state.”

For more information about reef construction and project photos, visit  For high resolution photographs, please contact Megan Latour at

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

Contact information

Dr. Ray Konisky
Director of Marine Science
The Nature Conservancy in NH
Great Bay Project Office
112 Bay Road
Newmarket, NH 03857

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