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Anacostia Watershed Society Releases Freshwater Mussels into the Anacostia River

Jorge and Reyna release mussels near Kenilworth Marsh by Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Jorge and Reyna release mussels near Kenilworth Marsh by Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
September 30, 2019

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Washington DC, September 30, 2019 – The Anacostia Watershed Society, joined by the National Park Service, the District Department of Energy and Environment, program partners, and volunteer citizen scientists will release thousands of freshwater mussels into the Anacostia River at Kenilworth Park. Beginning at 10:00 AM, volunteers and staff members will release mussels by canoe into the wetlands at Kenilworth Marsh. These mussels have been deployed at eight sites along the river for the past year and have filtered more than 32 million gallons of water in the Anacostia River!   

The Anacostia River used to be a hotspot for mussels in the region, but centuries of deforestation, urbanization, and pollution reduced their numbers. By growing and releasing freshwater mussels into the river, the Anacostia Watershed Society will augment the native population and accelerate water quality improvements in the river. As filter feeders, mussels help clean the Anacostia River by eating algae, plankton, and bacteria, including E.coli.

“With restored freshwater mussel communities, we will significantly boost the health of the Anacostia River to meet our goal of a fishable and swimmable river by 2025,“ says Jorge Bogantes Montero, Natural Resources Specialist for the Anacostia Watershed Society. “Of the nearly 9,000 mussels deployed in the river over the past year, more than 91% survived, demonstrating that the Anacostia River provides a healthy habitat to sustainably support the proliferation of these critical filter feeders.”   

The pilot phase of the program was made possible with support from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Rotary Foundation of DC, the National Park Foundation, Patagonia, FedEx, and New Belgium Brewing. Additionally, local students and other citizen scientists helped to monitor the mussels on a monthly basis throughout the past year.

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Maureen Farrington

Maureen Farrington

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