Virginia will rebuild the Chesapeake Bay oyster population with a its biggest-ever replenishment program, a $2 million initiative beginning in May and continuing through the summer.

The program will spread 1 million bushels of oyster shells on public oyster grounds, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission said Thursday. Naturally occurring oyster larvae will attach to those shells and reach market size in about three years.

The shells will be spread on public oyster grounds in the James, York and Rappahannock rivers and Pocomoke and Tangier sounds.