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E-M:/ mussel survey, Bean Creek Watershed
- Subject: E-M:/ mussel survey, Bean Creek Watershed
- From: Janet Kauffman <email@example.com>
- Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 11:55:42 -0400
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- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Janet Kauffman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28, 2004
Janet Kauffman, ECCSCM coordinator, 517-448-4973
Peter Badra, aquatic zoologist, Michigan Natural Features Inventory,
MNFI website: http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/home.cfm
Native mussels of “special concern”
found in Bean Creek Watershed
17 different species of freshwater mussels, including 4 rare
species of special concern in Michigan, have been identified in Bean Creek
Watershed in Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties.
A survey of freshwater mussels (clams) was conducted in July
and August by aquatic zoologists from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory
(MNFI), a program of Michigan State University.
MNFI staff surveyed 9 sites in Bean Creek and three tributaries.
Two excellent sites, one in St. Joseph Creek, a tributary northwest of Hudson,
and the other in lower Bean Creek near Morenci, were habitat for many species,
with dozens of individual mussels found alive.
Freshwater mussels are among the most endangered organisms in
North America. Unlike fish, they can’t swim away if sediment or pollutants
threaten the stream habitat.
The four mussel species of special concern – slippershell, cylindrical
papershell, round pigtoe, and rainbow mussel – were found only in St. Joseph
Creek. That tributary was also recently listed as an excellent quality
cold water stream by a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality bio-survey.
In Michigan, “special concern” is a designation for rarely-found
species needing special protection before they reach dangerously low population
levels. According to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, if these
species continue to decline, they would be recommended for Threatened or
Poorer sites were documented in the middle Bean Creek in Medina
Twp, and Lime Creek in Medina Twp, where only a few live clams were found.
Two tributaries, which were recently listed as “impaired” because of nutrients
and manure discharges, feed into middle Bean Creek and into Lime Creek.
The worst sites were in Silver Creek near Morenci, where no live
mussels were found. Silver Creek, in a heavily drained agricultural area,
had silt more than 6 inches deep in some stretches. Recent drainwork upstream
had removed vegetation and scoured streambanks. Because clams can’t move
away, they often suffocate under heavy deposits of silt.
“The good news is, some parts of the Bean watershed are in excellent
shape,” said Janet Kauffman, of Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South
Central Michigan. “The bad news is, some streams have very little life
left in them. We need to protect what we’ve got and restore what we’ve lost.”
Mussels have complex life cycles -- they need fish to reproduce.
Young larval clams hitch rides on fish and then drop off at new sites to
grow. “Where you’ve got clams, you’ve got fish,” said Kauffman. “We need
to protect these important stream habitats.”
The Michigan Natural Features Inventory survey was funded by
a grant from the Water Sentinels fund of Sierra Club and coordinated by
volunteers with Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan.
For more information on the survey, photos of mussels, see http://www.eccscm.org