Hurricanes and other storms may catastrophically impact oyster reefs, affecting commercial harvest and ecological services provided by oysters. In 2008, Hurricane Ike struck Galveston Bay, burying 8,000 acres of oyster reef under sediment and triggering Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s desire for a tool to rapidly guide restoration of buried oysters. Hurricane Ike’s impacts to oysters motivated TPWD to develop an oyster reef restoration decision tool.
An analytical tool was developed to guide restoration efforts for oyster reefs damaged by anthropogenic or natural causes. The design basis for the analysis is the Restoration Decision Tool, which identifies oyster reef restoration/creation methods and may be used to achieve the objectives and design of restoration/creation projects defined by the TPWD. Proposed oyster reef restoration/creation projects are captured in one, or a combination, of objectives such as: commercial harvest, shorelines, ecological health, and recreational fishing.
The decision tool guides the user to restoration techniques based on the restoration goal. The tool consists of a report and a Microsoft Office Excel 13 workbook linking restoration goals, information about the reef to be restored, restoration methods, scientific literature, and interviews with oyster reef restoration experts. The tool identifies pros and cons, factors to consider, costs (when available), and examples of situations where different restoration options have been used. The tool should be dynamic, updated regularly with knowledge gained from TPWD’s and others’ restoration experiences.