NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups and foundations has made a goal of adding 10 billion oysters to the Chesapeake Bay over the next several years.

The Virginian-Pilot reports foundation officials hope the increased cooperation will accelerate the oyster drive and add to pressure against the Trump administration’s proposed cutbacks in federal funding for bay cleanup.

Will Baker with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation tells WTOP-FM that oysters are a keystone species and are vital to the health of the bay.

Foundation officials say achieving the goal will require several things including greater sanctuary oyster reef construction and expansion along with more replenishment of public oyster harvest grounds.

In recent years, oysters have made an impressive comeback after decades of dramatic declines in oyster populations.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.