The public is invited to the MidCoast Watersheds Council meeting on Thursday May 7th at 6:30 pm in Newport to learn about the little known world of freshwater mussels from Shelly Miller of ODFW. The meeting is held in the public meeting room of the Central Lincoln PUD building located at 2129 N Coast Hwy in Newport, across from the Safeway complex. Refreshments will be served.
Freshwater mussels are an indicator of stream health for two reasons. They are highly sensitive to pollutants and they depend on fish as their hosts for dispersal. Living to be up to 100 years old, they are used in many monitoring programs as “bio-monitors.” Through the analysis of physical and chemical variations in the shells of freshwater mussels, the cumulative effects of environmental conditions over time can be assessed (similar in nature to how the rings of a tree record information). In addition, the mussels can aid in the monitoring of contaminants such as mercury, lead, dioxin, poly chlorinated biphenyls, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
Shelly Miller is a member and former chair of the Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel workgroup. Her interest in mussels began about 20 years ago during her first job as a biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Her 20 year career in biology has taken here from West Virginia to Illinois, back to East Virginia and finally, about 10 years ago, to Oregon. Shelly earned a B.S. degree in biology from the College of William and Mary and a M.S. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Pittsburg. She currently works with Chinook salmon, but loves to share her enthusiasm of mussels with everyone who is interested in their wild world.