From the State Highway Administration:
(July 2, 2014) – The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is partnering with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to relocate rare and declining freshwater mussels from Deer Creek in Rocks State Park in Harford County. This summer, DNR biologists will search the waters of Deer Creek to locate, tag and move the mussels upstream away from an upcoming stream bank repair project.
Environmental teams will move these mussels from a 1,500-foot section of Deer Creek through the end of July. One of the species, known as the “creeper” is listed on the state’s rare, threatened and endangered species list.
“This will be the first significant freshwater mussel relocation project in Maryland, and will pave the way for future relocation efforts to conserve our declining mussels when resource conflicts arise,” said Matt Ashton, DNR biologist.
The relocation, led by a team of biologists from DNR’s Natural Heritage Program and the Maryland Biological Stream Survey, will ensure preservation of the mussels as crews stabilize the bank along Rocks Road and replace a section of roadway between the park entrance and St. Clair Bridge Road.
“SHA is committed to the environment and we work to minimize impacts during construction,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. “We welcome the opportunity to work with DNR on this unique initiative.”
Freshwater mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in the U.S. Similar to oysters in the Chesapeake Bay, they serve as indicators of good water quality and they play an important role in the health of streams and rivers. Freshwater mussels filter large amounts of water, nutrients and suspended particles; create habitat for other stream life; and serve as food for other organisms. One of central Maryland’s best remaining mussel populations thrives in upper Deer Creek in northern Harford County.