2,500 Juvenile Mussels Being Released in the Upper Bee Branch Creek
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium will release 2,500 juvenile freshwater mussels into the Upper Bee Branch Creek today, June 11, 2020.
The mussels will be split into two groups. The first group of mussels will be placed in mussel rearing silos. The growth of the mussels and water quality measurements will be collected throughout the summer. The second group of mussels will be free released in pockets of 500 throughout the creek.
“The silos provide an opportunity to engage youth and the community directly in authentic conservation work happening in their own backyards,” said Jared McGovern, the River Museum’s Curator of Conservation Programs.
This summer and throughout next school year, St. Mark Youth Enrichment students will be serving as Bee Branch Creek "Beekeepers" and participate in watershed stewardship programming, including but not limited to, aquatic invertebrate sampling, water quality testing, wildlife viewing, and the freshwater mussel restoration.
Freshwater mussels clean the water as they filter feed, deposit nutrients in the sediments, and oxygenate these sediments through their burrowing actions. In large numbers, freshwater mussels hold the bottom of rivers in place, preventing erosion and providing a physical structure in which other organizations can grow, find shelter, and in some cases breed.
“Eventually, we hope that mussels and other aquatic animals will populate the Bee Branch Creek naturally,” stated Deron Muehring, Civil Engineer and Bee Branch Project Manager. “Introducing the mussels now will allow us to track their survival and growth and provide another indicator of the overall health of the creek. We know that by their very nature, the mussels will do their part and help improve the water quality within the creek.”
The mussels were supplied by the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Genoa National Fish Hatchery, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will provide guidance in the stocking, surveying, and evaluation of the freshwater mussel restoration effort.
The team will begin placing mussels in the creek at noon near the 24th St. Overlook. The process is expected to take two to three hours.