May 14, 1998

Contact: Diana M. Hawkins




EVENT Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, accompanied by Chief Forester Mike Dombeck of the USDA Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Paul Hartfield, will wade in the shallows of Alabama's Rush Creek in search of endangered mussels.
DATE Monday, May 18, 1998.
LOCATION Brushy Lake Recreation Area, Bankhead National Forest, near Double Springs, AL
PROGRAM 11:50 a.m. Secretary Babbitt and biologist enter and wade approximately 25 yards up the creek to view endangered mussels. PRESS INVITED.
mussel.gif (840 bytes)
Freshwater Mussel
12:35 p.m. Round Table Discussion with constituency groups at Brushy Creek Lake Recreation Area. Participants include: Mobile River Basin Coalition representative Dr. Doug Phillips (Facilitator), Bankhead National Forest Ranger James Ramey, Alabama State Forester John Yancy, U.S. Forest Service Biologist Mel Warren, U.S. Forest Service Mussel Coordinator Leigh Ann McDougal, U.S. Shell Company representative Lonnie Garner, Alabama Environment Council representative Pat Byington, Watershed Stewardship Facilitator Pete Conroy, Paint Rock River Initiative representative (to be advised), World Wildlife Fund representative (to be advised), and director Land Protection, Alabama Nature Conservancy Wendy Allen, Alabama Rivers Alliance Director, Brad McLane. PRESS INVITED.
  1:10 p.m. Photo and interview opportunities available to media representatives until 1:45 p.m. PRESS INVITED
  1:50 p.m. Visitors depart Bankhead National Forest
CONTACT For more information, contact Paul Hartfield (601) 965-4900 Ext. 25, or for directions, call Bankhead National Forest at (205) 489-5111.
Mussel species have been eliminated from much of their historic range by impoundments, siltation, and water pollution that has degraded their habitat. Poor land-use practices have contributed to a deterioration of water quality and their restricted ranges now make these species very vulnerable to toxic chemical spills.

The continental United States has 297 recognized species and subspecies of freshwater mussels, and Native Americans once made extensive use of the mussels or their shells for food, tools, and adornments. In spite of this extensive exploitation, the mussel fauna remained unchanged for centuries prior to European settlement. Over the past 200 years, however, mussels have been declining in diversity and abundance because of human alterations to aquatic habitats.

Mussels have been called "Mother Nature's 911 call" because they are generally the first animals to be lost when a river's water quality deteriorates. In the 20th century, mussels have suffered a greater decline than any other wide-ranging animal group in the United States.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages more than 94 million acres of land and water consisting of 512 national wildlife refuges, 65 national fish hatcheries, 38 wetland management districts with waterfowl production areas, and 50 wildlife coordination areas.

The agency also enforces Federal wildlife laws, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat, such as wetlands, administers the Endangered Species Act, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts.

Release #: R98-036

1998 News Releases

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