Skip to main content

Spotlight on North Shore Ecosystem Restoration

By April 20, 2023April 22nd, 2023Blog
Line drawn rendering of the North Shore Ecosystem Restoration project with the project area in color and surrounding areas in black and white

In celebration of Earth Month, Riverlife highlights restoration work on the riverbanks of Pittsburgh’s North Shore.

From fish to fowl, the variety of wildlife is truly diverse in and around Pittsburgh’s three rivers.

Riverlife is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pittsburgh District to restore approximately 13-acres of natural habitat along the North Shore on the Ohio River – a riverfront project  that will be the first-of-its-kind, setting a critical precedent for urban riverfront restoration.

The North Shore Ecosystem Restoration will restore land and water habitat in and on the riverbank stretching from Acrisure Stadium to the West End Bridge. The project will restore crumbling riverbanks and depleted river habitats by:

  • reshaping the riverbed and adding valuable habitat features
  • removing invasive plants and replacing with native species
  • returning the riverbanks to a more natural, gradually sloping condition 

Adaptable rivers accommodate water level changes and nurture the plants and animals in and near the water. In turn, that wildlife provides nutrients for a balanced ecosystem, including important populations like fish and amphibians, river otters and other mammals — and mussels! 

Wait, what about mussels?

Mussels are critical for measuring healthy rivers. They filter and remove particles from the water as they feed (up to several gallons of water per hour!). Mussels create habitats for other animals, and they’re what’s known as “indicator species,” meaning that their presence (or absence) in a river can provide valuable information about the river ecosystem. They’re sensitive to changes in water quality, habitat degradation, and pollution, making them important indicators of and contributors to river health. 

Monitoring mussel populations can help identify potential environmental issues and guide conservation and management efforts to protect and restore river ecosystems. 

Mussels also have some very… interesting names. Check them out here

Are you more of a Tennessee riffleshell or a Spectaclecase?  Take our quiz to find out. 

You can also read more about why “Mussels Matter” here in a piece produced by our friends at evolveEA.