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Chris Ulrey, National Park Service
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Image by USFWS/Southeast
Southern Appalachian bogs are one of the rarest habitats in North America, and home to numerous rare plants and animals. These lands are currently owned by myriad people and organizations, including the National Park Service, N.C. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy and private individuals. In an effort to bring together these managers with experts from a variety of bog-related fields, the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program and Division of Parks and Recreation, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service recently convened the Bog Learning Network.

The goal of the network is to bring together bog managers with botanists, wildlife biologists, hydrologists, and other experts to help answer some of the fundamental questions about bog management, and provide bog managers with the tools they need to do their job as well as possible.

In addition to providing a home for some of the rarest plants and animals in the southeast, bogs provide habitat for a variety of songbirds and game animals. They also perform a variety of services that benefit humans, including storing floodwater and releasing water slowly over time – helping ameliorate the impacts of flood and drought; and filtering pollutants from water.

Photo credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS, Asheville Field Office

Retired USGS biologist Steve Ahlstead chats with Service intern Byron Hamstead
service animal
Image by USFWS/Southeast
On September 25, 2012, the Service , Virginia Tech, Lincoln Memorial University, and several other partners released 5,000 endangered mussels into the Tennessee stretch of the Powell River.

Biologists released more than 4,000 one-year-old endangered oyster mussels and 1,000 one-year-old endangered combshell mussels across four sites on the Powell River. The animals were propagated and reared at Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. The release is the largest recovery effort to date for the two endangered mussels in the Powell River.

The Powell River is one of the nation’s most diverse, with nearly 100 species of fish, and 35 species of mussels. Mussels benefit people and wildlife alike. Mussels clean rivers by filtering algae, bacteria and debris suspended in the water. Mussels are sensitive to water pollutions and are used by scientists to monitor river health. Many animals such as otter, fish, and migratory birds reply upon healthy freshwater mussel assemblages as a food source.

Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS

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