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Does the Green River Hold the Key to the Survival of Endangered Ring Pink or Other Rare Mussels?



September 9, 2004

Tom MacKenzie, FWS, (404) 679-7291, cell: (678) 296-6400
Lee Andrews, 502/229-4616 (cell phone) or 502/695-0468 (office)



Biologists will be sampling the Green River near Munfordville, Kentucky, in hopes of finding the critically endangered ring pink mussel. Only two ring pink individuals have been found in the Green river within the last five years.

Media are invited to spend some time on the river with the biologists, to interview participants about the survey, and to take photographs. The biologists will be collecting rare mussels from shallow water, identifying them, and putting them in baskets. Media are also welcome to participate in the mussel collection efforts. Most of the sampling site in the Green River is anticipated to be very shallow, less than knee deep.


A $46,250 cooperative agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources is funding the effort to try and find enough ring pinks and other rare mussels to begin a captive propagation program. Captive propagation efforts could possibly prevent the extinction of the ring pink and aid in the recovery of other mussels.


September 15, 2004, at 10:00 a.m. central time. Another opportunity for interviews and information will begin at 1:30 p.m., for those who can't make the morning session. If you are unable to attend the event on September 15, please contact Lee Andrews to reschedule.


The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the National Park Service (Mammoth Cave National Park), the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Nature Conservancy.


For more information and directions, please contact Lee Andrews, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Frankfort, Kentucky Field Office at 502/695-0468 (office) or 502/229-4616 (cell phone).


The water temperature in the river should be relatively warm so a pair of shorts and old sneakers will be sufficient for wading throughout much of the site. If you have waders or hip boots bring them, but we will try to have an extra pair of waders or hip boots available if you cannot supply your own.


The actual sampling site is located on the Green River near Munfordville, Kentucky at a bend in the river called Thomas Bend. Munfordville is located east of Mammoth Cave National Park just to the east of Interstate 65.

From Interstate 65 at Exit 65, take Highway 31W to downtown Munfordville (approx. 1.5 mile). Then from downtown Munfordville take road 357 northeast for approximately 2 miles and turn right onto road 2185. Take road 2185 approximately 3 miles and turn right onto a gravel road that will be marked by a sign indicating the ring pink sampling effort. Drive to the end of this gravel road (approximately one-quarter mile) and park in a pasture in the designated parking area. Wait at this location for a 4-wheel drive vehicle to shuttle you to the site, which is approximately one-half of a mile distant from the pasture parking location.

If you arrive late or no one is at the pasture parking location to shuttle you to the sampling site, follow posted instructions at the pasture parking location, or call Lee Andrew's cell phone at 502-229-4616, or walk to the site (follow vehicle tracks downhill to the river) for assistance. We recommend you do not attempt to drive to the actual sampling site except with a 4-wheel drive vehicle.


The biologists will be collecting mussels, and if ring pink specimens are found, they will be taken to a nearby mussel propagation facility, operated by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, in Frankfort. Ring pinks and other rare mussels will be captive bred and later returned to the Green River or other suitable streams.

Once widespread in the Ohio River and its larger tributaries (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama), the ring pink is now onsidered functionally extinct in the wild. Extremely small populations may possibly still exist in segments of the Tennessee River, the Cumberland River near Hartsville, Tennessee, and the Kamawha River in West Virginia. If specimens are found in the Green River during the survey, captive propagation efforts may be the key to the ring pink's survival.Tom R. MacKenzie - Chief, Media Relations U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Southeast Region 404-679-7291 Fax:404-679-7286 Mobile: 678-296-6400

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Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

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