This summer, on the banks of the St. Croix River, a team of experts took important steps forward to help save a federally endangered species from extinction. The Wild Rivers Conservancy, and multiple federal, state and university partners committed resources, expertise, and time to preserving one of the only known self-sustaining populations of the winged mapleleaf mussel (Quadrula fragosa).
Mussels have long been a valuable resource, both ecologically and culturally, in the St. Croix and Namekagon Rivers. Each of the 41-mussel species found here today were present in these two rivers before European settlement. Today, this remarkably diverse mussel community is a rare example of an intact group of river-dependent animals that has withstood the test of time and changing environmental conditions. However, five of these mussel species are now considered endangered.