Oysters gain champions

Members of the Withers Estuary Community Collaborative have spent quite a bit of time this fall thinking about oysters.

They want to build a permanent home for the bivalve mollusks that will help clean the water that flows through Withers Swash and out into the sea.

The collaborative, a group of architects, Myrtle Beach city staffers, Coastal Carolina University professors, students, property owners and volunteers, is trying to clean Withers estuarial basin, the 4.2-square-mile area along and around Third Avenue South.

They are starting in the tidal pond near Withers Park, trying to restore the natural habitat that will help filter the water.

"Right now, the most important thing is to build an oyster reef - a support for the oysters we're going to restore in the swash," said Neil Chambers, a New York architect who has taken on the swash through his involvement with local designers at InFORM Studios.

The oysters are a natural water filter and a gauge of the water's health. Chambers is applying for grants to help rebuild the ecosystem in the tidal basin behind KFC between Third and Fourth avenues South on South Kings Highway - an area that he and others say could be turned into a beautiful park and an amenity for the city.

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