The Prince William County Department of Public Works will be reintroducing freshwater mussels into streams it has restored, further improving water quality and enhancing biodiversity. Acting as a natural filter, an adult freshwater mussel can clean up to 10 gallons of water per day.
This project, made possible by a $75,000 grant through the National Wildlife Federation’s Chesapeake WILD program, is a testament to the successful restoration efforts of Public Works and to the power of regional partnerships. The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) submitted the grant application and will join County staff in working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery and the George Mason University Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) to administer the program.
The project will also prepare a new generation to protect our waterways through additional educational partnerships with Virginia Master Naturalists, Prince William Conservation Alliance, and Prince William County Schools. Read more in this release from NVRC:
Hatchery-raised freshwater mussels in a floating basket in the Anacostia River. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced 25 grants in the 2023 round of funding for the Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Program. NFWF selected the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) for a $75,000 grant to further improve local water quality and enhance biodiversity in successfully restored streams in Prince William County.
NVRC is working with the Prince William County Department of Public Works, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery and the George Mason University Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center (PEREC) to reintroduce native freshwater mussels into restored streams.
Freshwater mussels act as nature’s filtration systems capable of filtering and cleaning large amounts of water. An adult freshwater mussel can filter up to ten gallons of water per day. Water quality and biodiversity will likely improve in streams with freshwater mussels.
Phase I of the project will consist of analyzing streams in Prince William County to identify which streams are best suited for mussel reintroduction.
Phase II will consist of deploying hatchery reared mussels in baskets to monitor growth and survivorship rates in different streams.
The final phase of the project involves the reintroduction of hatchery-reared mussels into the streams identified during the assessment phase. Mussels will be tagged and released into selected sites in Prince William County with continued monitoring of the mussels and water quality.
After photo of stream corridor restoration at Locust Shade Park in Prince William County. (Photo from Prince William County Public Works)
Additionally, local education, outreach, and citizen science are integral pieces of this project. Partnering with Virginia Master Naturalists, Prince William Conservation Alliance, and local K-12 students, the project aims to educate and engage the community. Stay tuned for local volunteer opportunities for this project.
NVRC plans to kick-off the project in April 2024. For information, reach out to Allie Wagner at email@example.com.