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Oysters save you taxes while saving the Chesapeake

Tuesday - 5/29/2012, 4:55am  ET

oysters
Richard Pelz, founder of Circle C Oyster Ranch in St. Mary's County. On the left is an oyster float that Maryland residents can buy and then get a 100 percent refund in the form of a state tax credit. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - If you want to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay and you're fond of oysters, there's a program you should know about.

Buy a special float used to grow oysters on the water, and you can get all your money back in Maryland in the form of a state tax credit.

If you own a home on the water you can place the float under your dock and the growing oysters will naturally filter the water, improving its quality.

If you don't have waterfront property, no worries -- you can still become an oyster "rancher".

Buy a float for $250 from Circle C Oyster Ranch in Southern Maryland and they will raise the oysters for you at their place along St. Jerome Creek in St. Mary's County.

Another advantage to buying a float from Circle C: You own the oysters. You can donate them to an oyster sanctuary, or eventually eat them.

Richard Pelz, the ranch's founder, says he has customers who live a good distance away, like in Bethesda and north of Baltimore.

He says some will carpool together to go pick up their oysters from Circle C for eating.

"Each float will produce about a bushel and a half, and if we're taking care of it, that's what we do is we give you a bushel and a half of oysters when you want them," Pelz says.

In addition to helping oysters, Pelz says crabs are fond of the floats as well.

"They feed on the growth that's on it, they hide on them, there's pockets on top that they can get into where they can mate and molt," Pelz says.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)