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Groups hoping mussels will help improve habitat near Missouri's Bagnell Dam

LAKE OZARK, Mo. 6/26/12 (PennWell) -- The release of about 3,000 freshwater mussels into the Lower Osage River is part of a larger effort to restore areas affected by Missouri's Bagnell Dam, which impounds water for the 230.75-MW Osage project.

The release of the endangered mussels -- called pink muckets -- is part of a 2005 agreement that calls for a variety of conservation measures. The measures were incorporated in Bagnell Dam's 2007 relicensing by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and receive funding from owner Ameren Missouri.

"This release is important because it augments a small, existing wild population of pink muckets in the Lower Osage River," says U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Bryan Simmons. "We're hopeful these released mussels will become established and thrive."

Simmons and his partners -- which include the Missouri Department of Conservation, Kansas City Zoo and Missouri State University -- released a similar number of the mussels in fall 2011 and expect to release more in fall 2012.

FWS says freshwater mussels are among the country's most endangered native species and that their populations are often a reflection of water quality. "If mussels are declining, it means there are problems," Simmons says. "The measures we are taking below Bagnell Dam will ensure the future of these mussels and the health of the Lower Osage River."

HydroWorld.com reported in 2009 that Ameren was in the process of upgrading the hydroelectric plant's generating units.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved Ameren's plan to redraw the boundary of the 93-mile-long Lake of the Ozarks to end potential encroachment on project lands by some 4,000 private structures in June. 


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