Project to restore mussels underway at Reston’s Snakeden and Glade streams

Restoration efforts are underway at Snakeden and Glade (via Resource Protection Group)

Several groups are working together to embark on a one-of-a-kind urban mussel restoration project for the Snakeden and Glade stream valleys in Reston.

The project is part of a partnership with Virginia Tech, the U.S Geological Survey and other institutions. The team will work to install mussel beds into restored streams and evaluate their ability to remove nutrient and sediment pollution.

“Freshwater mussels have the ability to filter stream water at a prodigious rate, improving water quality, and thereby potentially keeping local streams, rivers, and receiving estuaries cleaner,” the Resource Protection Group, a nonprofit funding the effort, said on the project page. “Within urbanized settings such as Reston, the possibility of utilizing mussels to improve both local water quality and that of larger receiving systems is quite intriguing.”

According to the organization, Virginia Commonwealth University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completed a study last year on whether freshwater mussels could survive in the streams before the current, larger-scale project to reintroduce the animals launched.

Other initiatives are also planned at both stream valleys.

A team of researchers from William and Mary and George Mason University will investigate the best ways to reduce the colonialization of stream restoration by grass and other invasive and non-native vegetation.

“We are excited to do our part to contribute to the science of stream management in our region by hosting these projects,” Reston Association said in an announcement on Friday (June 9).

Scientists are also working on studying water quality and vegetation management at both areas, which are part of the Northern Virginia Stream Restoration Bank Initiative.

RA COO Larry Butler noted that it’s not clear when the work related to invasive species will be completed, but it could take three to three-and-a-half years. The stream monitoring and mussel programs are expected to cost $2 million.

“The stream monitoring and mussel programs are five years with approximately four years remaining, with the work split between Snakeden Branch and the Glade watersheds,” Butler wrote in a statement to FFXnow.

Photo via Resource Protection Group