Living Reef Action Campaign

CCA Maryland's Flagship Habitat, Education and Outreach Program

Goals of LRAC:

  1. Habitat Creation & Restoration
  2. Educational Outreach & Community Engagement
  3. Advancing the Science of Habitat Restoration Through Scientific Studies

There are a variety of opportunities available to schools ranging from one-day in-class speakers to on-site construction of three-dimensional artificial reef components for eventual deployment in the bay and its tributaries.  While this program originated within our local school systems, we welcome all opportunities to work with different groups, community associations and businesses for the ultimate benefit of the Chesapeake Bay.

Started in 2015 through our Central Region Chapter in Carroll County, LRAC focuses on engaging students through in-class and hands-on STEM programs that encourage environmental stewardship.

The program also provides a Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) which is a requirement of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.  Students from elementary, middle and high schools have taken part in LRAC.

Since it's start, LRAC has been anchored by a mobile reef ball building trailer which travels to multiple schools throughout the region. Building reef balls gives students a chance to roll their sleeves up, get dirty, and learn new skills.

In 2019 a second reef ball building trailer was outfitted for use in Southern Maryland, to help expand the program's capacity and opportunities for partnerships in the region.

Partners, teachers, students, volunteers and staff regularly build reef balls in Carroll, Howard, Harford, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Prince Georges Counties, with St. Mary's and Calvert Counties coming on board in 2019 and 2020. 

Another key component of LRAC is the work that many high school students are doing, building reef balls at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center(Westminster), and Center for Applied Technology - North (Anne Arundel County)  as part of their masonry training programs.

Don't forget, the end result of our work is accessible to anyone with a boat, so get out there and tell us how the fishing is at the Tilghman Reef. The first location that LRAC reef balls have been deployed.

Starting in 2019, LRAC built reef balls will be deployed in the St Mary's and South Rivers, and we are working towards deployments in the Upper Bay, Magothy, and Patuxent River soon.

In May of 2019, staff and volunteers worked with a team from the National Aquarium in Baltimore, to deploy six reef balls on the footings of a footbridge adjacent to a floating wetland to add to a research project already underway in the harbor.

The video below was created by students from South River High School's STEM Community Challenge Program, to help simply convey the work of LRAC to a greater audience.



students involved


reef balls deployed


oysters added to the bay

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By working with educators, we collectively provide a meaningful experiential environmental learning for students. The building concrete reef balls, which are later seeded with oyster spat and deployed in the Chesapeake Bay to create new three dimensional reef structures, provides a unique perspective for students, teachers and parents into the importance of the oyster in the regional ecosystem.


Objectives of LRAC

Three-dimensional oyster reefs used to exist in the Chesapeake Bay. Years of overharvest and disease have broken down these reefs and the oyster population to a very small portion of what historically existed in the region. A three-dimensional oyster reef provides habitat for a number of species, and is there very foundation of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Reefs provide shelter for many juvenile fish, crabs and invertebrates, and by providing oysters an opportunity to vertically like they have historically. By jumpstarting their vertical growth off the bottom, reef balls give oysters better access to algae rich water to eat, and protect them being smothered by sediment, increasing the survive ability of oysters and other aquatic creatures and the success of overall habitat restoration

By teaching students about oyster restoration and why three-dimensional reefs are important to the recovery of the Chesapeake Bay. Schools engage in class hands on projects, and the construction of reef balls which will eventually be deployed in the bay to create habitat and jump start the restoration of three-dimensional oyster reefs. By participating in LRAC, Students, teachers and parents learn why oysters are essential to the health of the Bay and become a part of the solution to providing a bright future for our shared natural resources.

CCA Maryland has partnered with Stevenson University to monitor the success of our reef building efforts, and advance the science of habitat restoration. The studies which are underway include components related to changes in water clarity and quality, biodiversity, oyster growth and recruitment, and an evaluation of different reef building techniques and practices.

Carroll County Times on Living Reef Action Campaign

Living Reef Action Campaign

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