VICKSBURG, Mich. (WOOD) — A project to revitalize an old paper mill in Vicksburg saw an unexpected development when an endangered freshwater mussel was discovered on the site.
Snuffbox mussels were found in part of Portage Creek that is on The Mill at Vicksburg property.
Paper City Development, which owns the site, said it brought in environmental researchers earlier this year as it looked at how to use the river. The researchers found the mussels were “not only present but abundant” and described them as the “dominant species” in the creek.
The research team is now looking at the entire 1,800 feet of river on the mill property to work out how to protect the endangered species. It could ask for federal grants to fund the effort.
Paper City Development added that it is possible it may incorporate the mussels into its education program, which will be available to Vicksburg Public Schools students.
“We’re not entirely sure what’s going to come of all this, but, as we try to do in everything at the Mill, we’ll consider what is best for the mussels and that stretch of Portage Creek,” chief operations officer Jackie Koney said in a statement.
Developers announced in 2018 that they would turn the Vicksburg Paper Mill site, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, into a mixed-use facility. When it is done, the $80 million project will include a hotel, event space and space for shops. At last check earlier this year, the goal was to open part of the building in late 2022 or early 2023.
While rare, the snuffbox mussels can be found elsewhere in West Michigan. They were previously discovered in the Grand River in Grand Rapids, which slowed a project to restore the rapids.