LMU TEAMS WITH VIRGINIA TECH AND U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE FOR MUSSEL RELEASE AT POWELL RIVER
September 19, 2012 - Harrogate, Tennessee — Environmentalists, scientists, faculty and students from Lincoln Memorial University (LMU), Virginia Tech and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will converge on the Powell River in Claiborne County, Tenn., on Tuesday, September 25, to release 5,000 endangered mussels.
“The biggest goal of this project is to revitalize the Powell River and get it back to healthier times,” said LMU Professor of Biology and Director of the Cumberland Mountain Research Center Ronald Caldwell. “In the process, we are trying to save endangered species and give our students a one-of-a-kind learning experience.”
Four thousand one-year-old oyster mussels and 1,000 one-year-old combshell mussels will be released upstream and downstream of Brooks Bridge (State Route 63) during the event. The mussels were propagated and reared at Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center in Blacksburg, Va., in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). The collaboration will be the largest recovery effort to date for the two endangered mussels in the Powell River.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Restoration Biologist Jess Jones, also the co-director of the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center, is coordinating the effort. The release sites are shallow and very scenic, where people can easily wade around and participate directly in the event and learn about the mussel restoration program. Over twenty LMU students will join the effort along with students studying under Jones at Virginia Tech and other volunteers.
LMU’s Powell River Aquatic Research Station will serve as the headquarters for the project. The Powell River is a headwater tributary of the Tennessee River and is among the most biologically diverse rivers in the country. Nearly 100 fish species and 35 mussel species occur in the Powell River. However, water pollution, impoundments and riparian habitat loss have lead to dramatic declines in mussel populations in the Powell River. As a result, the Powell is home to 13 mussel species listed as federally endangered, which is the second highest concentration of rare and endangered mussels anywhere in the country.
Mussels are vital to fresh waterways because they benefit people and wildlife alike by filtering algae, bacteria and debris suspended in the water to clean the river. Mussels are sensitive to water pollution and are used by scientists to monitor river health.
Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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