Protecting Virginia’s waters

Holding mussels

Endangered mussels bound for the Powell River. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

“What do we use the river for?” Mike Pinder, a Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries biologist, asked a group of elementary students standing knee-deep in southwestern Virginia’s Clinch River.

“Swimming and fishing!” one boy answered enthusiastically.

Leading students into river.

Biologist Mike Pinder leads students into the Clinch River. Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

“What animal helps keep it clean?” Pinder asked.

The boy proudly shared his new knowledge: “Mussels!”

Pinder then began helping students place freshwater mussels in the sand and gravel of the Clinch River.

In September 2010, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – with support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), these elementary students, and other volunteers – released more than 6,500 mussels of seven species, including the federally endangered oyster mussel (Epioblasma capsaeformis).

Check out other stories of endangered plant and animal conservation in the Northeast – We’re sharing them throughout the year!

This was a monumental moment in freshwater mussel conservation, as this was the largest release of endangered mussels to date in the eastern U.S. – Finish reading the story!

Visit a stream near your house. Find any freshwater mussels?
(Leave your comment below)

UPDATE: We’ve got great news for another endangered species in Virginia! Biologists with the Center for Conservation Biology documented a modern day high of 53 red-cockaded woodpeckers during the winter population survey at The Nature Conservancy’s Piney Grove Preserve. This marks the highest population number in Virginia since the 1980s when red-cockaded woodpeckers began their rapid decline! Learn more.

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