December 12, 2012
The Osage Nation Environmental and Natural Resource Department (Osage ENR) maintains long-standing environmental initiatives such as a surface water quality monitoring program as well as the prevention of oil and saltwater pollution through an underground injection control program. More recently, the Osage ENR has begun to build capacity in natural resource disciplines including wildlife conservation. As such, the Osage ENR has collaborated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) to aid in the protection and conservation of the Neosho Mucket. The Neosho Mucket is a freshwater mussel and is listed as an endangered species. Freshwater mussels are filter feeders and a key component to ecosystems. The mussels were once used commercially to produce buttons for clothes. Culturally, native freshwater mussels are an important aspect to the Osage Nation people. One clan of the Osage Nation had a life symbol which was the freshwater mussel. Native freshwater mussels provided a food source and jewelry for the Osage people.
Today, the Neosho Mucket has been extirpated from over 60% of it's native home range. The Osage Nation strives to conserve and protect wildlife and heritage. Through scientific study and research, the Osage ENR has surveyed over 65 sites and has recorded over 10 species of freshwater mussels living within the waterways of the Osage Reservation. Osage ENR has conducted caging studies of the Neosho Mucket on the Caney River. These caging studies are used to find quality habitat for the Neosho Mucket. Osage ENR is currently tabulating the data from these studies for review. In predicting good results from the caging study, the Osage ENR and USFWS will reintroduce thousands of Neosho Muckets back into their native range within the Osage Reservation. Also, this study will generate great educational outreach, environmental awareness, and knowledge.
If you have any questions concerning freshwater mussels or the research completed, please contact Craig Walker of the Osage Nation Environmental and Natural Resource Department at (918) 287-5384 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org