OUACHITA KIDNEYSHELL MUSSEL (Ptychobranchus occidentalis)
This freshwater mussel has an elongated, compressed shell which is thick to moderately thick. The exterior color ranges from yellow to tan to brown with fine, wave rays over most of the shell. The inside of the shell is white. Maximum length is approximately 6 inches.
It is an obligate riverine mussel preferring gravel substrate with clean flowing water. Historically occurred in the main stems and major tributaries of the Verdigris, Neosho and Spring Rivers. It still occurs in many of these areas, but at much reduced numbers.
SPECIES PROTECTION AND CRITICAL HABITATS
Ouachita Kidneyshell Mussels are protected by the Kansas Nongame and Endangered Species Conservation Act and administrative regulations applicable thereto. Any time an eligible project is proposed that will impact the species’ preferred habitats within its probable range, the project sponsor must contact the Ecological Services Section, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, Kansas 67124-8174. Department personnel can then advise the project sponsor on permit requirements.
DESIGNATED CRITICAL HABITATS
As defined by Kansas Administrative Regulations, critical habitats include those areas documented as currently supporting self-sustaining population(s) of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife as well as those areas determined by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism to be essential for the conservation of any threatened or endangered species of wildlife.
Currently, the following areas are designated critical for Ouachita Kidneyshell Mussels:
- Spring River: from where the Spring River first enters Kansas to US-66 (Cherokee Co.).
- Fall River: from Fall River dam (Greenwood Co.) to its confluence with the Verdigris River (Wilson Co.).
- Verdigris River: from K-47 (Wilson Co.) to the city of Independence (Montgomery Co.).
- Neosho River: from the Morris- Lyon county line to the Kansas-Oklahoma border (Morris, Lyon, Coffey, Woodson, Allen, Neosho, Labette and Cherokee Co.).
- Cottonwood River: from Florence (Chase Co.) to its confluence with the Neosho River (Lyon Co.).
- South Fork of the Cottonwood River: from Bazaar to the river's confluence with the Cottonwood River (Chase Co.).
- Spring River: from Empire Lake dam (Cherokee Co.) to the Kansas-Oklahoma border.
- Shoal Creek: from the Kansas-Missouri border to Empire Lake (Cherokee Co.).
- Big Caney River: from US-166 (Chautauqua Co.) to the Kansas-Oklahoma border.
- Elk River: from Elk Falls (Elk Co.) to Elk City Lake (Montgomery Co.).
- Fall River: from K-99 to Fall River Lake (Greenwood Co.).
- Verdigris River: from Toronto Lake dam to K-47 (Wilson Co.), and from the city of Independence (Montgomery Co.) to the Kansas-Oklahoma border.