Conewango Creek Flexes Its Mussels

Biologists from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission surveyed the Conewango Creek for mussel populations in the area where the old low-head dam was removed in 2009.

Nevin Welte, mussel biologist, said workers also would survey a spot near the Fifth Avenue Bridge and an area near Back Up Corners near the intersection of Route 62 and Valentine Run Road where mussels had been transplanted prior to the dam’s removal.

Welte said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requires the surveys, which were done in 2005, in 2009 when the dam was removed, this year, and again three years from now.

In the survey below Beaty, Welte noted, “The three-ridge mussel was the dominant species, but they also found fluted shell mussels, wavy-rayed lamp mussels, spike mussels, plain pocketbook mussels, kindey shell mussels and others.”

He added that the entire mussel community appeared healthy.

In 2009, when mussels were relocated from the pool above the low-head dam, he said six northern riffleshells were found and moved. At first, all the mussels being moved were marked, but after the first thousand they realized it was too much of a stress on the bi-valve animals, and six thousand were ultimately relocated.

Some of the state biologists on the scene were from the commission’s Natural Diversity and Oil and Gas sections, who also do stream bed surveys and were in training.

According to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the three-ridge mussel is listed as a threatened species.