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      Dump truck donation will help DNR oyster recycling program expand

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Thousands of oyster shells are making it back to the ocean thanks to the Department of Natural Resources oyster protection program.

      At the end of every oyster roast are hundreds of pounds of leftover shells. Depending on the host, many of the shells are making it back into the water.

      "We're now expanding, the oyster recycling program the department has, we're very successful along the coastal counties and recycling oysters, we have drop off sites, that citizens can use," said Scott Whitaker, the executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association.

      The DNR is now the proud owner of a dump truck that will help them collect more recycled shells.

      Organizers say the program is expanding to include inland recycle sites such as Columbia and Florence.

      "They really form a foundation for the entire ecosystem. Any fisherman will tell you that it's a very important component of the ecosystem. They're not simply good to eat, nice to eat during the winter at an oyster roast, but it's important to the ecosystem also important to water quality," said Sen. Chip Campsen.

      Once the shells are picked up from the new recycling locations, volunteers will continue putting together more oyster bags for Lowcountry estuaries.

      "This year we're set to put out 13,500 oyster bags which weigh about 30 pounds each, so that equates to roughly 10,000 bushels of shells that volunteers will put out," said biologist Michael Hodges.

      The truck is the latest donation to the DNR project from the Coastal Conservation Association.

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