NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho National Fish Hatchery has a new mussel program.

Rivers in North America are home to nearly 300 species of native freshwater pearly mussels. Destruction of river habitats by dams, erosion, and pollution has left many of these mollusks on the brink of extinction. The center is planning on raising fresh water mussels at the hatchery to be placed in area creeks to help restore the local ecosystem.

Rodrick May, National Fish Hatchery Manager, said, “So this is just our way of continually moving forward into new territory and trying to do new great things for our locals and environment around here.”

To some mussels aren’t seen as a big part of the ecosystem, but are natural filters that help purify the aquatic system.