Freshwater mussels have a fascinating reproduction cycle and their population are sensitive to river habitat loss and dams on rivers. Mussels depend on fish host to relocate and repopulate within a stream by catching a ‘free ride’ on the gills of fish during reproduction. Mussels have been used as a food source, jewelry and in the button industry. They serve a vital ecological purpose by filtering our rivers, which helps provide a cleaner water for drinkable, swimmable and fishable rivers.
In May 2016, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) Environment Division received $98,988 in financial support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) GL-00E01943 to conduct pre-construction mussel surveys and carry out mussel salvage and relocation restorative tasks. These actions were to proactively mitigate unintended loss of native mussel species to select areas of the St. Regis River associated with the Hogansburg Dam removal. Field activities, restoration success, and reports can be found in the publications sections below.
Grasse River Mussel Propagation and Reseeding – Phase I
In October 2017, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) Environment Division received $200,000 in financial support from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) GL-00E02266 to take proactive measures to design, construct, and implement a long-term mussel propagation and reseeding restorative action in the lower Grasse River. These actions are associated with the Benthos Degradation Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) in the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern (AOC) at Massena/Akwesasne. It is anticipated the benthos, in particular freshwater mussels, will be affected by the 2019-2023 in-situ river construction for Superfund remedial activities. The Phase I will produce a Mussel Propagation and Reseeding Strategy anticipated to be completed in 2020. That strategy will determine future Phase II activities.