Indian Creek Purchase Protects Rare Mussels and Expands Opportunity for Public Hiking Trail

The Nature Conservancy, town of Cedar Bluff and others team to buy 25 acres for water protection and trail recreation

CEDAR BLUFF, VA | October 28, 2009

The Nature Conservancy announced today the purchase of 25 acres along Indian Creek in the town of Cedar Bluff, Virginia.  The property, formerly owned by Cedar Bluff Postmaster Robert Williams, will help protect habitat for the globally rare tan riffleshell mussel and expand efforts to create a new nature trail.  Indian Creek is one of the only places in the world where the tan riffleshell mussel exists and is the only place it is found in Virginia.

The Nature Conservancy’s purchase of this critical property was made possible by financial support from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME) and a grant from Spectra Energy. The Conservancy also worked closely with the town of Cedar Bluff to complete the protection of the property. Long-term plans for the wooded creek-side property are to transfer ownership to Cedar Bluff, which will link the property into a new public trail system. When finished, the trail will include interpretive signage highlighting the unique natural features of Indian Creek and the Clinch River valley.

“Virginia DMME and The Nature Conservancy have partnered on a number of projects over the years to improve water quality and habitat for aquatic species in the Clinch and Powell river watersheds,” said DMME Deputy Director Butch Lambert.  “As a signatory to a Memorandum of Understanding on the Clinch and Powell rivers, our agency is delighted to be a part of this effort to help protect Indian Creek and support Governor Kaine’s Land Conservation Goal for Virginia.  DMME maintains a consistent and sharp focus on efforts to improve and protect aquatic habitat for the globally significant biodiversity in these two rivers.”

“We are very happy to work with The Nature Conservancy to protect our important clean water resources both for our citizens and for the wildlife unique to our community,” said Cedar Bluff Town Manager Jim McGlothlin.  “It is a source of pride for Cedar Bluff to be a steward of good water quality and to help provide a habitat that is capable of supporting the last remaining viable population of the tan riffleshell mussel.”

The Clinch Valley is one of the world’s hotspots for freshwater wildlife — more rare species of fish and mussels are found here than anywhere else in North America.  The Nature Conservancy has been working with people in southwest Virginia for more than 20 years to protect unique wildlife and special natural areas.  The Conservancy and its partners have protected more than 35,000 acres in the region

“The town of Cedar Bluff is a terrific community that takes pride in the scenic beauty and natural resources that make it a unique place,” said Steve Lindeman, land protection program manager for The Nature Conservancy.  “I’m excited to continue working with the town and other interested landowners to conserve additional wildlife habitat in Indian Creek and the Clinch River.”

The presence of river mussels is an indicator of good water quality, as the mussels filter-feed what passes by them in the water.  Pollution and a buildup of sediment in the water make it difficult for mussels to feed and reproduce. 

Indian Creek is a tributary of the Clinch River as it flows through Cedar Bluff.  Further downriver sits the regional water treatment plant, which draws water from the Clinch.  This water eventually comes out of the faucets for people living in Cedar Bluff, Richlands and other western Tazewell County locations. 

The purchase comes on the heels of Cedar Bluff signing a 10-year contract with BMP Service and Supply to inspect, maintain and service two stormwater treatment units located near the Cedar Bluff Post Office, at the intersection of Birch Lane and Old Kentucky Turnpike.  These units were recently installed in a cooperative effort to help protect the water quality in Indian Creek and the Clinch River.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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