Look at these freshwater mussels we found in the Maury River during the Great Valley Cleanup!

Freshwater mussels are critical species in rivers’ and streams’ ecosystems. Why? They actually improve the quality of the water by acting as a natural filter for bacteria, algae and sediments. AND they are a source of food for other species!

There are 82 species of freshwater mussels in Virginia; however, “only 30 percent are considered stable” in terms of species health according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. In fact, “in Virginia’s Tennessee River drainage, 31 species are listed as either state or federally throated and endangered.

How can you help recover freshwater mussels?

YOU can improve water quality by

🔵 Don’t over-fertilize your lawn or fields! The nutrient runoff from lawns increases nitrates in waterways.

🔵 Pick up trash! Keeping the waterways clean of litter and debris creates a healthier environment for aquatic species.

🔵 Plant trees! By increasing the riparian zones alongside streams and on hills, land run-off is reduced so less sediment and nutrients make it into the waterways.