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NEWS | Sept. 29, 2022

JBAB commits to restoring native mussels to Anacostia, Potomac Rivers

By Staff Sgt. Nilsa Garcia Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs

Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling’s 11th Civil Engineer Squadron conservation team has partnered with the Anacostia Watershed Society to restore the District’s native freshwater mussel populations in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.

The Chesapeake Bay has issues with pollution from nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, and sediment. Both the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers flow into the Bay. The mission of the Anacostia Watershed Society is aimed toward the restoration and protection of the Anacostia River in benefit of all living in its watershed and for future generations.

The civil engineer squadron contacted the Anacostia Watershed Society in 2021 once they became aware of their mussel program, said Jennifer McDonnell, 11th CES environmental element chief. “With our 3.5 miles of waterfront property, JBAB seemed like a logical partner with their effort to restore mussel populations to the region.”

The mussels filter the river water and play a key role supporting a healthy ecosystem. Their reefs also provide habitat for river critters.

Students from the LEARN D.C. charter school on base had the unique opportunity to watch 11th CES environmental conservation team Airmen partner with the Anacostia Watershed Society to deploy the freshwater mussel baskets into the JBAB marina April 1.

“JBAB is housing juvenile freshwater mussels at the marina as a ‘nursery’,” said Maddie Cox, 11th CES environmental program manager. “The greater, ultimate goal, is for mussels to be thriving in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.”
During the event, students learned about current conservation efforts and ecological effects in their region. The event was a unique opportunity to align the school’s current science-based curriculum with a developing partnership between the installation and the D.C. community organization. Both are committed to restoring the health of the river in the National Capital Region.

The success of the nursery in the JBAB marina will be one major milestone in the journey toward a thriving mussel population within the Anacostia watershed.

“We had a great experience partnering with JBAB, and enjoyed working with the students and all,” said Ariel Trahan, Anacostia Watershed Society director of river restoration programs. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with JBAB to monitor the mussels and assess the habitat.”

The mussels will continue to grow over the course of a year prior to being relocated to their permanent home in a local mussel reef. The 11th CES and the Anacostia Watershed Society will monitor and chart growth success that can be compared to other current regional nursey baskets.

“The 11th CES will continue to seek opportunities for collaboration with the Anacostia Watershed Society and to enhance educational opportunities with the students from LEARN D.C.,” said McDonnell.

This project serves as one of the many examples of how JBAB’s focus on outreach initiatives continue to expand through fostering relationships and cultivating integration between the installation and the local community.

To read more about JBAB's environmental commitment, please click Here