Coastal Connection: The Tides Inn and Friends of Rappahannock

May 20, 2024

For the last few years, the Tides Inn and Friends of Rappahannock (FOR) have joined forces on numerous initiatives, such as native tree planting, conservation landscaping, and the design and installation of the 18,000-square-foot living shoreline at the resort which improves water quality and aquatic habitat of Carter’s Creek. The waterfront project— featuring 42 new trees, an oyster reef, and a meandering wooden boardwalk that naturally hugs the shore’s edge—was conceived and implemented to help preserve the natural ecosystem, prevent future erosion and runoff and protect local species, including osprey, Eastern oysters, and Atlantic mussels.

Partnership Highlights

A “spat-on-shell” restoration project involves the process in which oyster larvae attach to existing Eastern oyster shells to thrive and flourish. Last year, the resort and FOR launched its inaugural operation using 600 bags of recycled oyster shells, resulting in 880,000 new spat for reefs.  

“In the summer (or when the water hits just the right temperature at 70 degrees), you will see our staff along with Tides Inn ecologist, William Smiley, and oyster restoration specialist, Jen Sagan, on the boat together, dropping the shells in designated spots,” says Brent Hunsinger, Advocacy and Coastal Programs Director at FOR. “The Tides Inn has done an incredible job of connecting the clientele to direct, on-the-ground issues that are going on in the Chesapeake Bay region, and tying people to the place through guest experiences and making it educational and a lot of fun, too. It has been great for the river and FOR.”

Jen Sagan and Will Smiley are pictured relaxing on a bed of recycled oyster shells before getting their hands dirty.


A Joint Effort

Apart from teaming up for numerous restoration projects, FOR’s staff works closely with Smiley and Matt Little, the resort’s horticulturist, on day-to-day operations and voluntourism projects, including shell bagging events using recycled shells culled from on-site eateries, Fish Hawk Oyster Bar and Salt & Meadow. While in residence at the Tides Inn, guests have the opportunity to learn about the local ecology of the Chesapeake Bay region and contribute conservation efforts through ecotourism.

“There’s a twofold volunteer piece,” says Brent. “There are just so many benefits. I would like to emphasize the partnership’s gravity and success; it’s very much a symbiotic relationship and a great balance. You will not find a bigger advocate than me. The work that they have done at the Tides Inn is no small feat.” 

 Learn more about FOR and its effort in the region by visiting the link below.