CONSERVATION AT WORK
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is committed to protecting and conserving PA's natural resources. Check out some of our latest projects to protect our waterways and wildlife.
Flexing Our "Mussels" - Stocking Pennsylvania-Raised Mussels
In some western Pennsylvania waterways, mussels have endured more than a century of environmental destruction.
In 2017, the PFBC came to their rescue, and this year brought mussel reinforcements to Dunkard Creek in Greene County on the PA/WV border.
The Commission grew the mussels in the Union City Aquatic Conservation Center (UC ACC), which was converted from a State Fish Hatchery and retrofitted with mussel propagation systems with funds from a 2009 fish and mussel kill settlement.
In October, Commission staff, with the help of DEP, gave just under 500 juvenile Plain Pocketbook and Fatmucket Mussels a new home in Dunkard Creek. And over the next year, the Commission will grow and stock another 40,000+ mussels to invigorate mussel populations and improve waterways across the state.
PFBC anticipates future stockings of greater numbers of mussels, more species and working toward eventual recovery of state endangered and threatened species.
Below is an estimate number of each mussel species raised at the UC ACC.
|SPECIES||JUVENILE <2mm||JUVENILE 2-15mmm||JUVENILE >15mm||TOTAL|
Close-ups of Plain Pocketbook and Fatmucket Mussels raised by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
Group photo of staff from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission,
Department of Environmental Protection and volunteers.
THREE RIVERS BLUE CATFISH RESTORATION PLAN
Efforts to restore Blue Catfish to the Ohio River basin in Pennsylvania are underway.
The Tionesta State Fish Hatchery received eggs in the summer to become the first hatchery in Pennsylvania to raise Blue Catfish. PFBC staff stocked 40,000 Blue Catfish fingerlings in the Ohio River in October, and additional stockings will occur each fall from 2023 to 2026.
The Three Rivers Blue Catfish Restoration Plan
aims to establish a self-sustaining, naturally reproducing population of Blue Catfish in the Ohio, Monongahela and lower Allegheny rivers. Blue Catfish are native to the Three Rivers but were eliminated from Pennsylvania in the early 1900s due to pollution and habitat alteration.
Blue Catfish will only be stocked in the Three Rivers. They are not native to the Atlantic Slope basins in Pennsylvania, including the Delaware, Potomac and Susquehanna rivers and Lake Erie, and are considered highly invasive outside of their native range.
RAYSTOWN LAKE HABITAT PROJECT
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission recently partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Friends of Raystown Lake, PA Lake Management Society (PALMS), and the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership (RFHP) to improve recreational opportunities at the popular lake in Huntingdon County.
PFBC staff installed sawtooth deflectors to create a wind and wave break wall that will help improve a highly eroded shoreline. These rock deflectors will provide habitat for various fish species and improve macroinvertebrate colonization. Anglers will be able to target this area as a fishing hot spot for bass, walleye, panfish, and other species that will utilize the rock habitat throughout the year.
The structures will also improve water quality by reducing sediment and nutrients entering the watershed and allow a natural riparian buffer to reestablish on the lake shore behind the rock.
This project was funded by a $24,000 grant from PALMS.
Additional habitat projects are scheduled for September and 2023. Projects like these would not be possible without conservation-minded partners like Friends of Raystown Lake, Raystown Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, PA Lake Management Society, and National Fish Habitat Partnership.
Figure 1. A PFBC habitat barge installs sawtooth deflectors at Raystown Lake, Huntingdon County.
Figure 2. Sawtooth deflectors protect shorelines from wave action and will allow native wetland and upland plants to reestablish the buffer area along the shore.
STREAM HABITAT WORK ON SPRING CREEK
The PFBC's Stream Habitat Section is working to restore a section of Spring Creek, Centre County, near the Shiloh Road access.
The before photo shows an over-widened section of Spring Creek and vertically eroding stream bank along the access road and biking trail. The erosion has resulted in lost fish habitat and increased sedimentation.
The after photo shows the installation of PFBC-designed log-framed deflectors. The deflectors will provide cover habitat for fish and basking areas for reptiles and amphibians, as well as stabilize the eroding stream bank and biking trail. The deflectors also immediately narrow the over-widened channel, which will help establish stream flows that allow natural stream transport of sediment to prevent deposition to the stream bottom. The deflectors were planted with a wildlife pollinator mix and covered in straw mulch.
The PFBC partnered with the Spring Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited to conduct the project, which is being funded by PFBC Voluntary Wild Trout and Enhanced Waters Permit and DEP Growing Greener. All of the work performed was approved and permitted by PFBC and Department of Environmental Protection.
COLLECTING EASTERN LAMPMUSSELS
PFBC biologists recently collected some Eastern Lampmussels while sampling the West Branch Susquehanna River near Williamsport. Eastern Lampmussels are a rare species in the Susquehanna River watershed with limited distribution.
Mussels are indicators of water quality and can inform us if something is wrong long before other species can. If you like fishing or boating in Pennsylvania's streams, rivers, and lakes, then you like freshwater mussels!
MINSI LAKE TURTLE BASKING PLATFORMS
Water turtles use these platforms to bask in the sun, which helps them stay clean and healthy.
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