June 2023

June 2023 Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Minutes


Al Smith, Alexa Maine, Alyssa Bangs, Brittany Beebe, Paul Benton, Ryan Blackadar, Monica Blanchard, Bob Derber, Josh Boyce, Brandon Weems, Kristin Cook, Benjamin Cross, David Stagliano, Emilie Blevins, Ann Gannam, Linnea Gullikson, Craig Haskell, Jeffrey Petersen, Jens Hegg, Kevin Aitkin, Lauren Kong, Andy Lawrence, Laura McMullen, Graham Mytton, Nathaniel Neal, RD Nelle, Courtney Newlon, Patty Morrison, Ralph Lampman, Jessica Saenz, Joel Sauder, Sean Gibbs, William Simpson, Vince Butitta, Christina Wang, Michele Weaver, Molly Webb, Marie Winkowski, Sarina Jepsen, Christopher Hooley, Gena Lasko, Rob Plotnikoff


  • A recap about the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society symposium in Portland in April (Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society)
    • 299 people registered, of which 38 were virtual. Participants spanned 35 U.S. states (including Washington, D.C.) and 2 Canadian provinces (Ontario and Quebec), as well as 8 countries (including the US and Canada, as well as Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden). 
    • The program included 3 plenary speakers, 134 platform talks across three concurrent sessions, 14 lightning (5-minute) oral presentations, and 50 posters.  
    • A total of 16 sponsors contributed more than $14,000 to support the event, which goes to fund student and early career travel awards.
    • Great feedback from attendees
    • Thank you to the local planning committee and volunteers, especially Michele Weaver, Patty Morrison, Alexa Maine, Monica Blanchard, Ron Constable, Kevin Aitkin and others!

  • An update on the availability of a draft visual survey protocol for western freshwater mussels
    • Visual mussel survey protocol intended to provide straightforward, standardized methods for collecting visual observations of freshwater mussels in western North America. Does not replace rigorous methods where people are able to collect more detailed information but intended to fill a gap for people new to conducting mussel surveys and to improve the quality and usability of mussel data moving forward.
    • Version will be available for testing this summer; get in touch with members of the interagency group developing it: Emilie Blevins (Xerces Society), Alexa Maine (CTUIR), Courtney Newlon (USFWS), Barb Adams (USFS), or Emily Johnson (BLM) to receive new version of protocol.
    • Final version to be completed in 2024.

  • Dave Stagliano: Report on western ridged mussel length:age regression study funded by FWS, shared with the workgroup after the meeting

  • An overview of a proposed USFWS-facilitated Western Freshwater Mussel Conservation Strategy (Courtney Newlon & Christina Wang) – recorded
    • PNW workgroup history
    • Existing efforts
    • Proposal
    • Benefits
    • Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative model; many elements of a FWS led Mussel conservation initiative could be borrowed from a successful Lamprey Conservation Initiative
  • Draft structure
    • Steering committee that interacts with management units & fw mussel workgroup
    • Management units would have participation from tribes, federal agencies (FWS, USGS, USFS, BLM), state agencies, NGOs (Xerces, Watershed Councils), academia, co-leads from organization reps

  • Next steps
    • Convene Steering Committee (Nov, 2023 likely)
    • Steering committee develops plan
    • Draft strategy
    • Outreach to stakeholders
    • Implement strategy
  • Questions: 
    • How will this group change if mussel species become ESA listed? -unclear but there’s a precedent for this in other regions
    • Role for DOTs or Federal Highways? – yes
    • Is this group intended to cover other mollusks beyond freshwater mussels? -no
    • Can this recording be shared with partners who should be engaged? -yes

  • Next workgroup chair discussion – Emilie proposes a process of open nomination period over next two months – submit nominations by 8/5/2023. If more than one candidate is nominated, hold a vote, the new chair will begin their term at the September 2023 meeting. Emilie will follow up with an email regarding this process.


2021 March

NW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup
Quarterly Meeting
Thursday, March 18, 2021 at 9:00 Pacific Time

Attendees: Emilie Blevins (Xerces, workgroup chair), Wes Daniel (USGS), Dorene MacCoy (City of Boise Public Works), Steve Bollens (Washington State University), Lusha Tronstad (Wyoming Natural Diversity Database), Alyssa Bangs (USFWS), Ann Gannam (USFWS), Almeta Helmig (Great Basin Institute), RD Nelle (USFWS), Craig Haskell (USFWS), Jerry George (Kleinshmidt), Cynthia Tait (USFS retired), Celeste Serles Mazzacano (CASM Environmental), David Cowles (Walla Walla University), Denise Dammann (Dammann Consulting), Hope Rieden (Chehalis Tribe), James Barron (USFWS), James Kunz (USGS), Jen Poirer (USFWS), Joel Saunder (IDFG), Julie Campbell (USFWS), Kate Holcomb (UDWR), Kevin Aitkin, Kris Schaedel (HRSWCD), Liz Bockstiegel (WDFW), Martyne Reesman (ODFW), Michele Weaver (ODFW), Stephen Siddons (WGFD), Teal Waterstrat (USFWS), Miranda Plumb (USFWS), Laura Guderyahn (City of Portland), Rebecca Paradis (Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe)


  1. Welcome and introduction (Emilie Blevins, workgroup chair/Xerces Society)


  1. Zebra Mussels in Aquarium Products, USGS update (Wes Daniel, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database Coordinator, USGS)

Shared presentation: NAS Database, citizen science portal got report in late Feb from Petco. Photos reported upon request. Novel pathway, contacted WDFW AIS and went to local Petco on March 2, 2021. Moved to USFWS Law enforcement and USDA (regulated “plants”) Shipped from Ukraine and vector for many non-native organisms (flat worms diatoms, more). USDA does not regulate algae or screen for zebra mussels, USFWS taking the lead role now. Lots of screening with suitcase eDNA monitors.

What can we do? Be vigilant! Report. These vectors were likely going on for multiple months. This was a citizen science report, not agency. Help ID what else was in the algae balls.

Currently tracking ~1,300 NAS species. 

Denise Dammann: are there multiple brand names?

Wes: yes lots of labels and often relabeled. Also sold dry.

Kevin Aitkin: zebra mussels also reported from this vector from nurseries, floral stores, pond stores, and internet commerce.

Kate Holcomb: The success of widespread sharing of the information about zebra mussels, How were you so successful?

Wes: Great networks and agency response. It was also a learning experience as we noted gaps in “authority” in agencies or where we are lacking communication and resources. Also identified new vectors for NAS.

Dorene MacCoy: Do you know David Pilliods work with eDNA on Stream gauges to ID all aquatic species. 

Wes: Yes! and it is a great tool and a baseline for Aquatic monitoring. I did a detail in that office and work with USGS.

Wes: minimum data requirements for inclusion in USGS NAS database. Especially for eDNA reporting. eDNA reporting is the wave of the future!

Kevin Atkin: Some recommendations out there for zebra mussels to improve water filtration of Koi pond outlets.

Wes: Yikes. Will follow up.

  1. City of Boise mussel project update (Dorene MacCoy, City of Boise Public Works)

Sharing presentation: “The search for FWM in the Lower Boise River”

Why is Boise interested in Mussels. Diversion dam splits the upper and lower river. Population in the area is exploding! It’s an urban river with the challenges that come along with us. Lots of drainages, ditches, canals, and other diversions. “New York Canal” receives ~½ water in the Boise River in Summer. 2 renewal facilities that process ## million gallons of “dirty water” each year and expected to increase.

City needs to follow EPA clean water standards. Mussels found to be more sensitive than salmon fry to ammonia. 1995 – 2017 USGS collected benthic samples for WQ, but also included reports of FWM. but no mussels in the Boise River! So they started ad hoc mussel surveys in the area including dewatered areas for restoration and recreation projects (no luck!) Attended Xerces FWM training and read the materials!)

Also looked at fry releases locations to help where mussels might be. Using those tools they found mussels and started understanding habitat specificity. Mussels not prolific in the lower Boise River. Side Channels had more abundant mussels than main stem (or at least more easily detected mussels).

Dave Hopper? (USFWS) provided local training. Smith Root loaned out some eDNA detectors for field testing USGS ran samples. Had several local river “ positive or control samples” for eDNA.

All set up for surveys on the Lower Boise! 28 sample/survey sites identified. Found mussels (MAFA) at 5 of 28 sites. Margaritifera only in physical (visual) surveys. BUT MAFA eDNA sampling detected them in 16 of 28 sites. BUT one visually detected site was negative for eDNA. (eDNA was taken in side channel, a physical mussel was found in the main stem).

No Gonidea (ridged) found. Light directions for upstream (just below diversion dam) no Anodonta found in physical surveys, but eDNA found them in 13/28 sites.

First documentation of mussels…. Now what?

2 focus surveys in side channels to do “probability of direction” surveys with USGS. Working with USFWS to pit tag mussels to do long term assessments. Visual and eDNA surveys at 25 sites. Host fish work (IDFG and USGS).

David Cowles: Lake sampling.

Lusha Tronstad: done for amphibians

Kate Holcomb have you looked for host fish and glochidia on fish?

Dorene: We have not done that. It’s a big busy river with lots of priorities.

Short side conversation about eDNA sampling in lentic and lotic habitat.

  1. Corbicula fluminea and other AIS research at the Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, Washington State University (Steve Bollens, Washington State University)

Dr. Bollens at School of environment and science. Director of Myers point research station, 

AND co-director of aquatic ecology lab at WSU Vancouver (WA) with Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens: we do Microbes to Fish.: https://labs.wsu.edu/aquatic-ecology/

New emphasis: harmful algal blooms and AIS. Planktonic invaders.Corbicula velgiers dominated summer water columns. Started looking at adults (growth rates, habitat associations of lower Columbia, competitive interactions (corbicula vs FWM). Planning on collaborating with CTUIR, USGS research lab, Xerces.) Steve welcomes future collaboration with him and the workgroup. 

Thanks workgroup for the inclusion (and the workgroup thanks Steve!)

Dorene: got any students interested in working in Boise River.

Steve: We are very interested in supporting graduate students. 

Emilie Blevins: could corbicula be a vector for freshwater mussel disease?

Steve: a little out of our scope, but very interesting. Corbicula is widespread and abundant, but can’t speak to the vector.

  1. Bear River, Wyoming mussel eDNA study update (Lusha Tronstad, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database)

Distribution of MAFA and ANCA in Bear RiverWyoming. How far can we detect with eDNA. Main focus is California Floaters. Hard to see because of the turbid river, Using Torrey Rodgers multi spp primers. Black (negative controls) all came back negative. Water chemistry didn’t explain FWM distribution. eDNA does not seem to be traveling far in the bear river. Thick Biofilm in the streams. Only found adult mussel shells. Concerned about reproduction. Want to follow up in areas with CA floater to find information about age and reproduction.

Almeta Helmig: How did you determine frequency of eDNA sampling

Lusha: Tried for every 500m, but limited by private land access to site

Dorene MacCoy: Is poster available? Did you do visual surveys?

Lusha: yes (Emilie will distribute to the workgroup). We did visual surveys in the past but one outcome of this project is to guide future surveys

Dorene: How deep do these things go? Are we just missing them? The photic zone doesn’t seem to monitor them. Thinking about sonar surveys.

Lusha: they are as deep as they can go.

Celeste: on Willamette we excavated mussels 20cm under the substrate. They can be really deep in areas where oxygen is available.

Emile: Doug Nemath (USFWS) found mussels ~1 foot into substrate.


  1. Joel Sauder: Idaho eDNA
    End of year funding allowed for eDNA sampling. Mining already collected data at USGS Rocky Mountain Research Station (noted above). Targeting Ridged mussel, but using Torrey Rodgers multiplex. Laying groundwork for sampling in 2022.

Dorene MacCoy: USGS gauge eDNA samples and BOR eDNA samples are out there to be mined if allowed. Might be regulatory. 

Discussion of open eDNA atlas and regulatory/hidden/protected datasets. How we can capitalize and who to contact.

Joel: Right now we are trying to put dots on a map.

 Xerces Society mussel program update (Emilie Blevins)

-Posted seasonal FWM surveyors positions for 2021. Please spread the word!

-please remember to disinfect: VIRKON Disease work has been delayed due to Covid and no real updates. Also in BMPs.

River Democracy Act: https://oregonwild.org/celebrate-river-democracy-act-2021 Williamson River included here at Xerces nomination.

Xerces has funds to assist in pre-project surveys and restoration planning in Oregon. Please reach out to Emilie if you have a project.

OPB Article looking a pesticides in Oregon waters featuring mussels: https://www.opb.org/article/2021/03/17/forest-pesticides-found-downstream-in-coastal-oregon-waters/

  1. Other business

Reminder about the FMCS virtual symposium
FMCS meeting coming up 10 members presenting and ~12 western mollusk presentations.

Other information from workgroup members

Kate Holcomb: we have one good river with MAFA in Utah. But a researcher found a new site/population/individual when snorkeling for fish in a beaver restoration project. More to come.

James Barron (USFWS Abernathey Tech center) MAFA. A number of MAFA held at the facility (group of 10) released glochidia in late Feb. The water was barely over 8 C. Propagated new MAFA cohort on steelhead (O. mykiss) with light inoculation (couple hundred per fish) Surprised at early date of congulatante response. Have 1-year old MAFA, and 3 groups of brood stock (~60 adult mussels).


2020 October

PNW Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Quarterly Meeting

Minutes of October 21, 2020 at 1:00

Patty Morrison; Rob Plotnikoff; Emilie Blevins; Al Smith; RD Nelle; Jeanette Howard; Liz Bockstiegel; Julie Tyson; Rebecca Paradis; Marie Winkowski; Teal Waterstrat; Laura McMullen; Ali Helmig; Elizabeth Torrey; Bruce Hansen; Kris Schidel; Michael Stevenson; Anna Chase; Hope Rieden


  • During our last call, we discussed continued planning for the Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society’s biennial meeting to be held in Portland, OR in April 2021. Since that discussion, FMCS has transitioned to a virtual meeting for 2021. Portland will host the 2023 meeting.
    • Patty mentioned: we can circulate updates on that meeting (abstract submission and registration)
    • Rob asked about discounted rates for workgroup members. Emilie said that at this time we won’t have that in place, but it is a future possibility.
    • Teal can update the webpage to reflect these changes.
  • Thanks to everyone who shared thoughts on potential webinar topics from the PNW as part of the USFWS webinar series (click this link for more information). A webinar on eDNA tools and western freshwater mussels is tentatively on October 27 at 11:00 Pacific Time, presented by Torrey Rodgers of Utah State University (and recent author of this article) and Emilie. If you are involved in or aware of a western mussel eDNA project, we’d like to take a moment during the presentation to acknowledge the work being conducted, so please contact Emilie to have your project added to a list.
    • Al said they have been good so far and looking forward to it.
    • Patty asked if attendance is high. Al said, yes attendance has increased. It looks like there are often more than 100 attendees.
    • The presentations are posted to the NCTC website so you can view the ones you missed: https://nctc.fws.gov/topic/online-training/webinars/freshwater-mussel-conservation.html.
  • Alexa Maine’s request for restoration projects: Emilie mentioned this request again and asked folks to share information with her.
  • Gonidea angulata petition: Emilie gave a brief update on the submission of the petition and the timeline. The petition is now undergoing the 90-day review by USFWS.
  • Updates from workgroup members
    • Rob shared information on his long-term monitoring program (trend sites), including sharing that he has noted where they’ve found mussels, collected detailed information about habitat; conducted surber sampling but also surveyed habitat units (reach or riffle, pool). They do not collect mussels but do document size and species. They add 15 new (status) sites each year (Stilly and Snoho basins; other smaller basins in the county). They have also been looking at fish eDNA (mainly salmonids). Sarah Brown at WDFW (science division)- being able to offer eDNA analysis for fw mussels soon. They are looking at sites where they get positive hits to see if they see the species.
    • Teal mentioned that his office is moving from their current location and has been talking with Burke museum (new malacology dept and curator-Melissa Frey) about housing some of their mussel collection. Teal is working to help start a special PNW collection for shells. Rob said they have an existing collection and was wondering if there would need to be money associated with the submission of samples. Orma Smith museum in Idaho, where Bill Clark is the director. Anna said she was able to keep her collection housed there. That may be another option for the future.
    • Al asked about Tualatin surveys by Emilie. She mentioned Chicken Creek and Gales Creek, where mussels have been surveyed for and have been or will be relocated in advance of restoration projects.
    • RD Nelle shared information on USFWS work upstream of Yakima river on east side. They have been developing a strategy—they’ve done bull trout and lamprey eDNA and hope to use those samples to look for mussel presence; Marcie is going to work with them to piggy back this project from existing samples. Mussels have been found by crew members in the field. Next spring they are hoping to start some more surveys.
    • PNW SFS meeting—Rob Plotnikoff (Nov 18 and 19) virtual meeting
      • great plenary session, will be running a 9-2 meeting with a lunch break
      • platform will be Zoom, will have a yearlong subscription
      • several mussel talks
    • Emilie mentioned doing mussel surveys this year in the Coquille, Chehalis, John Day, and Crooked basins.
    • Kris noted seeing mussels in the Willapa River this summer.


2020 June

Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup

June 17, 2020; 10:00 – 12:00 Pacific Time


Kevin Aitkin (USFWS), Emilie Blevins (Xerces), Hope Rieden (Chehalis Tribe), Al Smith, Patty Morrison, Sarina Jepsen, Liz Bockstiegel (WDFW), Michele Weaver (ODFW), Kate Holcomb (UDWR), Kris Schiedel (HRSWCD), Monica Blanchard (WDFW), Cynthia Tait, Celeste Searles Mazzacano (CASM Environmental), Claire Williamson (WDFW), Alexa Maine (CTUIR), Teal Waterstrat (USFWS)


Meeting Agenda

  1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions
    1. Background and information on the workgroup and resources for new listserv subscribers

Emilie shared the following information for new members:

The Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup is an email listserv and workgroup covering topics related to native freshwater mussels in western North America. The workgroup was established to ensure that freshwater mussel research, management, and educational activities are coordinated, prioritized, and are consistent with identified information needs. You can learn more about the workgroup and access information and resources by visiting the website (https://pnwmussels.org/), checking out our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/MusselsPNW), and sharing mussel observations through our iNaturalist project (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/freshwater-mussels-of-the-western-u-s). We have 220 workgroup members. It was established in 2003. Past chairs include:

Jen Stone, USFWS: 2003
Al Smith, ODFW (retired): 2004-2006
Sarina Jepsen, Xerces: 2007-2009
Shelly Miller, ODFW: 2010-2013
Celeste Searles Mazzacano, Xerces: 2014-2017
Emilie Blevins, Xerces: 2018-present

Benefits of Connecting with the Workgroup
The workgroup provides a forum for communication and sharing of information and resources. The workgroup is active, including scheduling quarterly phone calls for discussion, sharing relevant and timely information via listserv postings, and periodically convening symposia and special sessions at scientific meetings. With support from the chair, products can be used and developed under the name of the workgroup if they meet the goals and objectives of the group and charter. The current workgroup chair is Emilie Blevins ([email protected]). Teal Waterstrat manages the workgroup’s Facebook account and Website. Members of the 2020 Symposium Planning Committee include Emilie Blevins, Teal Waterstrat, Alexa Maine, Patty Morrison, Kevin Aitkin, Kate Holcomb, and Michele Weaver.

As a workgroup (listserv) member, you are subscribed to receive emails from the group listserv. This service is used to facilitate information sharing and discussion and serves as the main method of communication among workgroup members. To post public messages or to respond publicly to other workgroup members, you may send an email to [email protected] or reply directly to a thread. If you wish to reply privately to a workgroup member, be sure to replace “[email protected]” with the intended recipient’s email address when selecting the “reply” option. To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, you may send an email to [email protected].

Several new members introduced themselves. Kris is new to the group and freshwater mussels but has been in fisheries >20 years. She noted that she is surprised she has never heard of them and interested in how she can learn more and incorporate them into her work. Monica is an assistant district fish bio and has encountered mussels frequently. Al mentioned Cynthia was also a founding member if not a chair. He commented that many people in the workgroup started not knowing anything about mussels and have developed expertise.

  1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— PNW Mussel Workgroup transition to FMCS Western Chapter

Emilie provided the following information to update members on activities related to transitioning the mussel workgroup to an FMCS affiliate. FMCS has been around since 1992. 681 members on the mailing list and 404 active members, covers snails and freshwater  mussels, manage species names lists, coordinate scientific meetings and workshops. In 2016, our membership initiated a discussion of the workgroup becoming an affiliate of FMCS.  There is also interest by European FMCS members in being recognized as a subgroup. Activities by the FMCS ad hoc committee to investigate this included interviews with AFS- Deputy Executive Director Dan Cassidy, Western Division-Daniel Dauwalter, IALE North America President Rob Scheller, a nonprofit lawyer, and representatives of 4 other regional groups.

Other topics discussed related to this work included the possibility of becoming an FMCS member with registration to the (now-postponed) Symposium and differentiation between listserv and FMCS membership (potential availability of scholarships and grants). Emilie asked for feedback from workgroup members. Cynthia asked about fees and Celeste asked if membership dollars would come back to the PNW affiliate. Emilie answered that these are specifics that we can negotiate with FMCS so that it is beneficial to all parties. AFS does require membership fees, but chapters do receive a portion of funds back to their membership, and this is a model we could follow.

Sarina asked about FMCS benefits from the PNW mussel workgroup joining. She wondered if we could have that association without becoming an affiliate. Patty mentioned that we have liaisons now but no board representation. Emilie discussed that we would not be able to direct more FMCS resources to the PNW without something more formal. Al mentioned that he thinks the AFS Oregon chapter is great and the PNW would benefit from something similar.

Cynthia asked if FMCS have any affiliates yet. Emilie said no, so we can really identify how to make it mutually beneficial. Celeste said this was an idea put out by the workgroup, not the chair. Kevin said he thinks it is time to move to the next level. Al agrees it is time to upgrade, and money has always been an issue to do projects. Kevin said we should still try to get information out to others. Idea for the PNW workgroup was presented in 2003 and there has been more interest. It has been nearly 20 years. People interested in mussels and working for highway departments- that never happened before.

Michele Weaver pointed out that there are many opportunities for non-member AFS people to participate, such as in meetings. Emilie brought up a proposal for having a dues-paying minimum of 6 PNW members. Al and Kevin said no problem. Cynthia asked about Oregon AFS dues- Michele said chapter membership for Oregon is $20, for AFS national itis more. Michele also said Montana AFS offers an affiliate membership that does not require you to become a national member.

Patty thinks we need to reduce this to writing and have people weigh in on options. Al thinks we should elucidate the background for how we got to that point. Cynthia asked if we are agreeing with how we become an affiliate and decide specifics later. Emilie said we are at the point of agreeing on the specifics. Emilie will write this up and see what input we get. Share that feedback with PNW workgroup members and discuss at the next call. Cynthia said she thought the name change from PNW to Western would be simple, as we’ve been including members from other geographies for years. Kate said we could also be the “Western Chapter of FMCS.” Cynthia may want to make it clear that it does not include east-draining basins. We would need to make sure that states like New Mexico and Texas don’t think they are represented. Al thinks it makes sense that we are recognizing beyond the PNW.

  1. Symposium Planning Committee Members— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW Workgroup Special Session [recurring agenda item]

The committee provided a progress report on the (now postponed) Portland meeting, special mussel session, potential for virtual meeting, speakers, workshops and field trips. We discussed a virtual meeting in more detail. Celeste mentioned the virtual SFS meeting. Kevin said he saw one on Scots broom- a good example of a live one. Al said he saw one a month or so ago on monarch butterflies with 3-4 speakers over several hours, although the quality of the video was not good. Liz said Salish Sea ecosystem conference went very well, so that is another good one to look at. Kate said AFS spring virtual meeting went really well. USFSW mussel webinar went really well, too. Al agreed the USFWS webinar was great.

  1. Other items:
    1. Idaho harvest regulation changes: update on progress. Al shared testimony with Dave Stagliano from his own presentation to ODFW Commission. No further details.
    2. Mineral prospecting and placer mining: Kevin said Washington has updated their placer mining regulations. Aquatic mining is now restricted (see the map shared by WDFW). Mussels will benefit as well. Only possible in specific watersheds. Lots of recreational miners. Al has seen gold dredging in the Rogue River basin and it is very destructive. It is now better regulated in Oregon. New regulations in effect in Washington. Some differences between mechanical and non-mechanical. Panning still allowed anywhere. Cynthia said the Idaho restrictions are related to anadromous fish presence.
    3. Unio and FMCS listserv subscriptions: Emilie and Kevin attempted to have our listserv subscribed to these listservs but have had varying success with emails actually going through. We will continue to work on this
    4. Mussel Webinar Series ideas from workgroup members

Emilie provided results of the workgroup survey on webinar suggestions. We

  1. Case Studies in the PNW (mussel surveys and distribution studies)
  2. Restoration Projects I: Removal and Recolonization (Methods)
  • Restoration Projects II: Habitat Improvements and Mussel Communities (If we build it, will they come?)
  1. Ecology of Mussels in Running Water; Localized Effects on Water Quality and Other Species
  2. Importance of Mussels in Native American Culture
  3. Climate Change and Habitat Suitability: how is distribution of mussels affected?
  • Status and trends of PNW mussel species
  • Knowledge gaps, ongoing projects
  1. Sampling techniques, especially eDNA and translocation protocols

Cynthia said that Torrey just published a paper in Freshwater Biology on the western mussel eDNA primers. He would be a good person to speak on western mussel eDNA. He gives a good presentation. Emilie said it might be better if someone could speak more broadly to the eDNA efforts taking place. Montana RMRS is spearheading some of that work. Al thinks this would be a good topic. Cynthia said Salmon Challis NF has pearlshell in the Salmon River. Torrey was able to show via eDNA that Gonidea was present and so needed to take precautions when planning forest management. Liz said Marie Winkowski is leading an eDNA study in the Chehalis. She isn’t volunteering Marie, but that would be a good project to discuss. Emilie agreed to reach out to Matthew Patterson to see about our recommendations.


2019 December

Pacific Northwest Native Freshwater Mussel Workgroup Minutes

December 20, 2019; 10:00 – 12:00 Pacific Time

PDF of minutes here: https://pnwmussels.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/PNWNFWMG_December_2019_Minutes.pdf

Meeting Agenda

1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions
2. Patty Morrison, USFWS retired; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW 2020 symposium [recurring agenda item] 3. Discussion regarding adding the Unio and FMCS listserve updates to our PNW emailings
4. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society and Julie Tyson, WDFW— Mussel die-offs in the news
5. Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey— update on pearlshell gravidity and host infection study, and introduction of graduate student Kristen who is working on in-depth timing of fertilization/embryo development and brooding in pearlshells
6. James Barron and Ann Gannam, USFWS Abernathy Fish Technology

Attendees: Emilie Blevins*, Xerces Society; Patty Morrison, retired USFWS; Kristen Cook, USFWS; Jodi Bluhm, Samish Tribe; James Barron, USFWS; Ann Gannam, USFWS; Al Smith, retired ODFW; Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey; Celeste Searles Mazzacano, CASM Environmental; Jennifer Poirier, USFWS; Elizabeth Bockstiegel, WDFW; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Courtney Newlon, USFWS

*note taker

Call Notes

 1. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— welcome and introductions

 2. Patty Morrison, USFWS retired; Teal Waterstrat, USFWS; Kevin Aitkin, USFWS; Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society— discussion of FMCS 2021 symposium and PNW 2020 symposium [recurring agenda item]

  • PNW Symposium (note this symposium was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic)
    • Following the survey filled out in March, we developed a committee to assist with planning a 2020 regional symposium and the 2021 FMCS symposium. Committee includes: Teal Waterstrat, Kevin Aitkin, Patricia Morrison, Michele Weaver, Alexa Maine, Kate Holcomb, Emily Davis.
    • Identified a venue that is providing free use (Vancouver WREC).
    • We have a webpage! Free registration for the event at our deborahs33.sg-host.com page (click the link at the top). First call for abstracts and a proposed schedule on the page. Please register and submit abstracts as soon as possible. We want to hear about your surveys, research, and projects. Deadline is January 31, 2020. Early registration ends on February 29.
    • Seeking additional sponsorships to help offset costs for plenary speakers, provide refreshments, and if possible offset travel costs for some members. Already have received some donations from Oregon AFS, HDR consulting, and FMCS but additional funds are needed. Sponsorship letter available if folks have someone in mind.
    • We will be asking for assistance at the meeting from workgroup members. If you are planning to attend and able to help with registration, poster setup and takedown, or other tasks, please get in touch with me.

Discussion among group indicated that multiple members are planning on attending. Kevin and Teal can put together a poster on the mussel workgroup for the symposium, and Al can bring some older posters from the workgroup as well. Courtney Newlon and Liz Bockstiegel also volunteered to assist at the symposium.

  • FMCS Symposium
    • Will be held April 11-15, 2021 in Portland, OR at the Double Tree hotel in the Lloyd District. The theme is “Mountains to Sea and the Mollusks Between.” More information will be available in June 2020 on registration costs and the first call for abstracts.

Al noted that he has attended multiple and thinks they are great. This is an opportunity to meet some of the big names in mussel research and conservation.

3. Kevin Aitkin, USFWS— Discussion regarding adding the Unio and FMCS listserve updates to our PNW emailings

Kevin Aitkin: Matthew Patterson said we could add the PNW workgroup listserve to Unio listserve. What do people think about receiving more emails? Celeste asked whether if people subscribed to both, would they receive 2 emails or 1. Patty said many already are receiving 2 emails because it is forwarded to our listserve. Emilie asked if the number of emails people were receiving are overwhelming. Several people said no. Teal: Would we be impacting Unio’s numbers by grouping so many people from the NW together? Kevin said he can ask Matthew. Teal also asked whether subscribing to FMCS would reduce interest from people in our region? Kevin said it could help get information about the group out before the meeting. Emilie said she can ask Jeremy Tiemann about concerns. As no one has asked to be removed from our email listserve, we can probably go ahead and sign up. People can change their email preferences if they are receiving too many.

4. Emilie Blevins, Xerces Society and Julie Tyson, WDFW— Mussel die-offs in the news

Emilie noted that there has been lots of recent press about mussel die-offs in the Clinch River, and reporters reached out to her as well to learn more about observations in the PNW. This was because of a current partnership with USFWS, USGS, UW Madison, and Xerces to sample and investigate mussel die-offs. Workgroup members may remember there was interest by FMCS back in 2017 in observations of mussel die-offs. Al Smith compiled observations from the workgroup and shared on our behalf. Teal also developed a letter with a link to a reporting page to gather more observations from the public and biologists.

In 2014, Ray Kinney reported to the workgroup his observations at Smith Rock State Park, and Al Smith also visited the site to see conditions. Similarly, WDFW staff observed and reported on mussel die-offs in the Chehalis River back in 2015. There is now a partnership between USFWS, WDFW and Xerces to collect information on mussel health and distribution in the Chehalis River and tributaries. The intent is to help understand what is happening at die-off sites and look for relationships with water quality, population characteristics, and mussel condition. Sampling will begin in 2020. Simultaneously, mussels were collected and sent to the lab in 2018. These mussels have a high incidence of a previously unreported virus that is different from the one detected in the Clinch River and new to science. High association with sick mussels.

Teal added that Curt Holt was the first observer in the Chehalis. Teal is glad that this work is progressing and that the workgroup is in place to answer questions from the public. Patty said the most recent issue of FMBC is dedicated to health and disease, the topic of the FMCS workshop in 2018. Lots of information on mussel die-off research, global in scope. Open access is available from the FMCS website. Patty will send out a link.  (here is the link: https://molluskconservation.org/PUBLICATIONS/FMBC/FMBC_Vol22/FMBC_Volume22-2.pdf

5. Dave Stagliano, Montana Biological Survey— update on pearlshell gravidity and host infection study, and introduction of graduate student Kristen Cook who is working on in-depth timing of fertilization/embryo development and brooding in pearlshells

Dave introduced Kristen Cook at Montana State. Kristen is working with him and Michele Anderson. She just passed comps and presented MS thesis proposal. Chris Barnhart in Missouri is on her committee. This joint project is gathering information on 5 watersheds, 25 populations and conducting multiple revisits to determine reproductive status and timing. Western pearlshell are gravid from Memorial Day to July, and she is looking at influence of stream temperature. Glochidia release is much quicker from brooding point. Host fish are brooktrout, redband, brown trout, cutthroat trout. Several populations are surviving on brook trout.

Kristen is looking at reproductive biology, oocytes to fertilized eggs in marsupium. 2nd year coming up. She is a biologist with USFWS and is hoping to get region involved in MT pearlshell more. She is focusing on 2 of the 5 watersheds. She can look at how fast embryos are developing. Al and Teal said great work. Dave said this project was conceived 4 years ago, and it took this long to get funding.

6. James Barron and Ann Gannam, USFWS Abernathy Fish Technology— update on recent mussel activities

James and Ann work at the Abernathy Fish Tech Center in SW Washington. They have been doing hands on mussel work for 1.5 years now, working with Margaritifera mainly. Started with an interest from ID, and wanted to make sure they could hold mussels. 23 western pearlshell collected from Abernathy Creek. Have not worked on a burrowing study yet, but have been holding and monitoring them. They released glochidia last spring. They inoculated fish and have 1 juvenile produced in captivity that is still alive fed and held only on creek water. Abernathy is not a production facility, but once was so they have the setup to hold and propagate if needed. Have some funding through FWS to work on mussels. Currently looking at a physiology study related to temperature. Collected another 23 mussels to look at hemolymph nonlethally. Looking for stress biomarkers. Treated in higher temps up to 26 C for 5 days. Drew hemolymph and can run multiple tests. More information soon. Will look at cortisol, Tbars, calcium, glucose, etc. Looking to figure out how much they can analyze from the samples. Will analyze in January. Monitoring to see how the mussels recover from hemolymph draw. Original 23 mussels still around except 1 mortality. Also doing nutritional work with western pearlshell. Will do an analysis of creek water and look at algae. Trying to inoculate more fish and produce more juveniles. Were able to inoculate steelhead and coho, but mussels did not survive on coho. Could have another funding opportunity to hold western ridged mussel to look at condition health indices.

Patty wanted to ask the group if there are other facilities working on grow-out. James said Alexa is the only one he knows of in the West. Abernathy may be able to work on this more. Celeste said Jonathan Young at Presidio Trust has worked on this and that we should invite him to symposium. Patty mentioned that some facilities specialize in propagation and others in grow out. James said propagating has worked but the grow out meant lots of loss. Could be smothered in the silt. Emilie mentioned that Presidio is just Anodonta. James invited workgroup members out to see the facility.

7. Discussion of use of mussels and harvest

Teal has heard from people but there seems to be limited examples of harvest. There is an Idaho example of harvest that Emilie found online. Dave wondered if we would support a letter to Idaho to end legal harvest of mussels. Dave did this in Montana. Travis said that is a great idea. Al said it was 20 years ago that he testified before the commission in Oregon. Al said a letter from the workgroup copied to chair of Idaho Fish and Game Commission and to the director, with support from biologists in the state, could be one route. Kevin Aitkin said it would be great to find someone in house to help push this through. Al said it was a smooth process. Dave said Joel Sauder would be a good contact, and it would be worth asking Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife to weigh in. Al suggests sending an email to the membership about taking a stand and seeing if there is opposition. Teal was wondering if FMCS was interested in taking a policy position and would be willing to join in. Al said AFS would be good to get in touch. Al and Dave would be able to help.

8. Celeste wanted to congratulate Travis on receiving an award from the Grande Ronde who have been involved in mussel surveys. Travis can see if Brandon at the tribe wants to join the listserve.