Massachusetts launches freshwater mussel restoration with citizen scientists

On July 18, 2016, Massachusetts awarded the Connecticut River Watershed Council $40,512 to help restore endangered brook floater mussels to four streams in the state.

The bottom-dwelling mollusks help maintain water quality through a process of non-stop filtration.

Freshwater mussels are an incredibly important part of a healthy riverine ecosystem, and unfortunately they are a species in trouble,” said Andrew Fisk, executive director of the non-profit watershed council, which protects the Connecticut River basin in four states.

He said there is “very exciting work underway to culture mussels in a hatchery and then use these mussels to repopulate rivers and streams where we know they can flourish.”

The grant will support habitat assessments, hatchery propagation, and community involvement and education.

Mussel propagation and reintroduction has been successful in Mid-Atlantic states, but this will be the first project of its kind in New England.

Trained volunteers and citizen scientists will work alongside state, federal, and University researchers to implement the program.

When the public is engaged in real and meaningful scientific inquiry and restoration activities, it strengthens their commitment to stewarding these public trust resources, and increases environmental and scientific understanding and acceptance,” said Fisk.

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