Tim Lane thought he knew all 195 miles of the Powell River. Much of his time was spent in waders and wet suits, tromping through its swift, cold waters and those of the neighboring Clinch River. As the Southwest Virginia Freshwater Mussel Recovery Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, Lane was searching for the Appalachian monkeyface mussel—a small, brown bivalve found nowhere else on Earth and only an oil spill or drought away from oblivion.
The Powell and the Clinch have cut deep gashes into Appalachia’s ancient sandstone and shale over tens of millions of years, creating two of North America’s most biodiverse rivers. The Clinch alone is home to a hundred species of fish