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January 19, 2008

Shell recycling effort set at Jan. 27 oyster festival

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will again be coordinating the recycling of oyster shells at the upcoming Lowcountry Oyster Festival at Boone Hall Plantation on Sunday, Jan. 27.

In previous years, this festival venue has contributed thousands of recycled oyster shells to S.C. Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Oyster Shell Recycling and Restoration Program. The large-scale recycling effort takes place with the help of numerous volunteers, and this year’s plans are no different. Volunteers assist with DNR coordinators to direct the recycling of oyster shells into appropriately marked boxes, trailers and dumpsters throughout the day. With this organized production, the number of oyster shells recycled back into the environment is increased, the amount of litter found in oyster shell piles is reduced, and the amount of recyclable material that goes to the landfill from the festival is minimized.

DNR Shell Recycling and Restoration Program Coordinator Andy Jennings emphasizes the importance of recycling shells, "We replant all of the shells that are recycled in South Carolina back into the estuary," Jennings said. "Every amount of recycled shell that our program receives is directly benefitting the coastal environment. We are also appreciative of the support we receive from other organizations, catering companies, and individuals using our 19 coastal recycling drop-off locations."

At the upcoming Lowcountry Oyster Festival, numerous volunteer organizations will be providing assistance to DNR with the recycling of shells. Scott Whitaker, executive director of The Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina, one such group supporting the DNR’s shell recycling initiative at the Festival said, "The consumption of oysters as well as the marine habitat they provide have been interwoven into the coastal heritage of South Carolina. In order for that relationship to continue to flourish, the only responsible action is to utilize recycled shells for restoration and resource enhancement purposes to the benefit of our very unique and enviable coastline."

During the 2007 Lowcountry Oyster Festival, more than 1,000 bushels of recycled shells were donated to the DNR’s Oyster Shell Recycling and Restoration Program, and during the event in 2006, more than 470 bushels were recycled. Every shell recycled during the event as well as over the course of the winter is replanted back into the estuarine environment, replenishing and helping to sustain the oyster resource. Replanting shells during the warmer water seasons is part of the cycle for maintaining the resource by providing a substrate for oyster spat to attach and grow the next generation of oysters. Oysters are also important to the marine environment, serving as ecosystem engineers and fish habitat.

In addition to the upcoming Lowcountry Oyster Festival, the public is also reminded to recycle oyster shells at any of the 19 coastal recycling drop-off locations. Call (843) 953-9854 for more information. DNR’s Oyster Shell Recycling and Restoration Program coordinators will arrange to pick-up large quantities of recycled shells, 20 bushels or greater, following large oyster roasts.

DNR protects and manages South Carolina’s natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state’s natural resources and its people.

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