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Bernard Sietman prepares to submerge in search of freshwater mussels in the Chippewa River downstream of the Minnesota Trunk Highway 40 bridge. Sietman and co-worker Mike Davis of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources devoted three days to surveying mussels and marking over 100 locations on the riverbed for future monitoring. Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny

Freshwater mussels really matter to river's ecosystem

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MONTEVIDEO -- As far back as the turn of the century, there were "clammers" who dug freshwater mussels in the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers in search of pearls.


Later, they raked the upper Minnesota River to harvest mussel shells in quantities large enough to fill rail cars. They shipped the shells to Muscatine, Iowa, to be made into buttons.

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