LBWCC honors students team up with PowerSouth in search for threatened mussels

Published 12:37 pm Friday, September 27, 2019

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LBWCC honors students this week joined PowerSouth in searching for mussels to relocate on Gantt Lake.

PowerSouth is required by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to relocate certain federally listed mussels when lake levels are lowered for maintenance of PowerSouth’s hydroelectric generation facilities. During the Gantt drawdown, PowerSouth is making an effort to recover and relocate the federally listed species and a few other species of mussels of state concern. Assisting in this effort are officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Alabama Department of Environmental Management and other volunteers, including students.

Due to Gantt Lake’s substantial shoreline area, the recovery process requires a great deal of manpower. PowerSouth appreciates the volunteers who have joined in the effort.

“We see this as a great opportunity for learning and cooperation amongst our partner agencies and other volunteers,” said Keith Stephens, PowerSouth Environmental Services Manager. “Having so many student volunteers join our team for this project shows us that there is a bright future ahead for our community. PowerSouth is proud to have a part in shaping their futures.”

Kristy White of LBWCC participated with three students earlier this week, and student success coach Tori Norris.

Students who participated earlier in the week were Lexi Weeks, Emma Clark and Megan Weeks.

Students Danasia Bell and Gracie Gafford joined Honors Program Chair and English Teacher Anthony Sanders.

Students reported they enjoyed the process.

“I never knew that looks for mussels would be so much fun and interesting,” Lexi Weeks said. “I love the outdoors and today has proven even more why Alabama is so beautiful. This was an amazing learning experience, and I now know that Alabama has the most mussel types in the United States because of our geographical location.”

Megan Weeks said, “This opportunity has opened my eyes to new fields of study and the many job opportunities available in environmental sciences. I have learned to identify mussels in our local ecosystem, and the importance of major community projects like this one. I am thankful the Honors Program offers us valuable learning opportunities outside of the classroom.”

White said the volunteer opportunity gives LBWC students exposure to job opportunities and other fields of study.

They were joined by Trent Carnley of PowerSouth, Will Blount of PowerSouth, Erin Padget, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and Nick Wierman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.