Michael Marchand: (603) 271-2461
December 18, 2020

Brook floater mussel filtering water, courtesy of Ethan Nedeau

Concord, NH – Freshwater mussels are considered to be one of the most imperiled groups of animals worldwide, and the Granite State is home to some 10 species of native freshwater mussels, 70% of which are listed as species of greatest conservation need in the NH Wildlife Action Plan. Of these, the brook floater, dwarf wedgemussel, and eastern pondmussel have declined in population to levels warranting their listing as threatened or endangered species in New Hampshire.

Why are these mollusks so important? Freshwater mussels help maintain healthy waters, acting as natural filters that help keep our rivers, ponds, and lakes clean. There are 60 rivers, lakes, and reservoirs in New Hampshire that support wildlife and serve as public water supplies for residents and visitors. Mussels are sensitive to environmental changes and therefore play a critical role in indicating the health of our freshwater systems. Conservation actions taken to benefit freshwater mussels will also benefit people and other wildlife species such as bald eagles, wood turtles, American brook lampreys, and Northern leopard frogs.

This coming spring, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program will begin measuring the health of existing populations of freshwater mussels and assessing the current conditions where mussels were previously recorded decades ago. Once the ice melts, biologists specifically trained in mussel identification and habitat valuation will begin underwater surveys throughout the state and will rely on the financial support of donors to carry out this critical research.

“I am excited to focus additional conservation efforts on our imperiled freshwater mussels and the lakes, ponds, and rivers where they are found,” said Michael Marchand, who supervises the state’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. “Freshwater mussels are often overlooked but are vital when it comes to maintaining healthy waterbodies on which people and wildlife both rely,” explained Marchand.

Private donations will provide the necessary matching funds for a federal grant acquired by the Department. Donations will help ensure that our biologists have the resources they need beginning in the spring of 2021 to coordinate known population survey efforts and assess the habitat and health of these populations. Survey results will inform important decisions on landscape protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat.

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The NH Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates. The program relies in part on private contributions to accomplish its work and to raise matching funds required for state and federal grants. Learn more at