Pocketbook. Cat's paw. Pistol grip. Heelsplitter. Spectaclecase. They're freshwater musels, and freshwater mussels everywhere are declining. To help solve the problem, West Virginia Department of Transportation environmental specialists, each of whom has taken a 5-day stream-survey training course at the Department of Natural Resources, regularly look for unknown mussel populations in all of the State's wadable or snorkelable streams with more than 10 square miles of drainage area. Any mussels in harm's way are relocated to a suitable spot upstream. Freshwater-mussel surveys involve little extra effort, since the survey team is usually already onsite conducting other aquatic-resource studies. The logistics are simple: You need a keen eye, a little natural talent, and the willingness to spend 2-3 hours in each stream location. The survey "equipment" is an 18-inch-deep, glass-bottomed bucket which will hold mussels as small as a toenail or as large as a cantelope. Yearly statewide surveys at nearly every watershed and close to 100 bridge locations have added 12 new mussel streams to the State's database.
--Aug 21, 2006
|Mussels to be relocated.|