Eastern Hellbender Survey and Freshwater Mussel Survey COL-428-6.65 Bridge over Little Beaver Creek –– JMT / ODOT – Columbiana County, Ohio
In response to plans by Columbiana County Engineer to replace a 160-foot span bridge within Little Beaver Creek, STONE was retained to conduct a survey for the State Endangered and Federal Species of Concern Eastern Hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis). The bridge crosses the creek within a park and it is designated as both a National Scenic River and an Ohio Wild River at this location. The Little Beaver Creek system is known to support eastern hellbenders and has a designated use of Exceptional Warmwater Habitat by the Ohio EPA. The survey focused on identifying potential suitable habitat for hellbenders, such as large boulder and rock slabs (approximately 20 inches or bigger). All suitable habitat was surveyed for hellbenders primarily by snorkeling methods. All suitable habitat was documented and rock locations were captured via a Trimble GPS system.
The mussel survey followed the Ohio Mussel Survey Protocol for Group 1 streams. Upon arriving at the site, the Area of Direct Impact (ADI), Upstream Buffer, and Downstream Buffer were established. The ADI was determined prior to accessing the site based on existing right-of-way and preliminary plans for the construction of the new bridge. Beginning at the downstream end, the substrates and stream banks were visually searched for evidence of shells, shell fragments, or live mussels by using a combination of visual and hand collecting (with aquascopes). All stream habitats (not just suitable habitats) were visually and/or tactually inspected, with special attention paid to substrates that could support living mussels.