September 9, 2011
An eventful few weeks , aren’t they always? we’ve had some real success and a few sorry stories. But the main issue has been, as the blog title suggests, the rain! This level of sustained rain I haven’t experienced at this time of year in my time at the trust! It has interrupted two projects, our fish passes in Burnley and the gravel addition at Stock beck.
But lets start with the successes. Although Stock beck has been interrupted progress was excellent. With 4 out of the 9 locations successfully installed and over 100 tonnes of gravel added to the previously dredged beck.
As soon as the weather breaks and the ground firms up we’ll crack on and get finished. Our surveys of the site confirmed that very little successful spawning has occurred. We’ll be spending quite some time watching these artificial riffles looking for spawning fish and redds. And now some bad news – pollution, unfortunately we found some sewage pollution in Stock beck, and as a result we found unbelievable amounts of sewage fungus and one dead juvenile salmon. Thankfully there were quite a few live juveniles in the area, and one positive outcome was the surprising number of Eels of various age classes, from 75-80cm to 15cm!
Our surveys have taken a bit of a hit, in that we are a little behind schedule, but we put out two teams over the last two weeks to try and catch up. We’ve covered the Ribble up to Long Preston and hope by the end of September to have succeeded and completing all the Ribble sites. At the same time our other team have been working on the Hodder and completed surveys up to the Dunsop area. Including two detailed studies on Abstraction and our spawning channels. The results will be analysed and reports available in November if not before! Generally trout seem to have had a good spawning season, but salmon not so good, but that is not unsurprising given the timing of last years cold winter coinciding with salmon spawning. Some of our most exciting outcomes so far this year have been the number and extent of White clawed crayfish, and otters.
And now some sad news, last week some contacts let me know of a dead otter. The otter was found on the Whalley road in Clitheroe near the old Stalwort lodge. We collected the otter and passed it onto the Environment Agency for analysis. However the death was clearly the result of a Road traffic incident. The otter came to the weir on Standen Beck and obviously couldn’t continue upstream in the river, so decided to go around, involving crossing the road. I have to admit being devastated more than I’ve been in some time. This location is near where I walk my dog every day, and I keep an eye on the beck being my local stream. One that we have worked on in an attempt to provide passage for all wildlife, so that in theory fish and otters can easily gain access to the top of Pendle Hill! I hope in the future we can find away to ease passage for fish AND otters so this never happens again!
Speaking of fish passes, our first fish pass in Burnley is complete, and we were half way through the second when this tail end of Irene hot our shores, and has ceased work for the time being, but we are on schedule to complete on time. We hope that this will coincide with the Launch of the URES project including the appointment of the new Community Engagement officer.
This should also coincide with the move into our new office building, although at the same site and address, Hanson Cement have agreed to provide us with a fantastic building that will allow us to house our new staff, and provide facilites for training of volunteers (on invertebrate monitoring, scale analysis and much more!) and meeting rooms for our local action groups.
What are the local action groups? Well this is what we hope to form as part of our Pilot project with the EA, or as it’s now known “Restoration Ribble!”. The official launch is coming up in October and will mark the real start of the project. Although we’ve already made a start in talking to organisations and groups, and this will continue over the coming few weeks (if your part of a group, or an individual interested in this please get in touch!). What we hope to do is to give people the resources, skills and advice needed to allow them to restore and enhance their own streams.
Although there is much more to talk about such as our Large Woody Debris projects on the Hodder, completion of our fish pass on Boyces Brook and the progress of our Cam and Gayle project, I think that I’ve written enough for one blog post, and what will be left to put in our annual newsletter! However below is a comment that I posted on a national newspaper website, in response to an article that was inspirational, but particularly because some of the other comments were things that we have come across in the last few weeks:
The article was: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/05/yorkshire-river-aire-people-power?commentpage=last#end-of-comments
My comment was:
I work for a rivers trust, which is a community based river charity. We look after our own
specific river, and now there are rivers trusts covering almost every river in the country. The
River Aire has its own, and I’m sure that the man (who shall remain nameless) that is behind the rivers trust there, was also involved with the eye on the aire.
It is so interesting to read the comments as each has addressed a point that I deal with on a day to day basis. The one that stands out is the damage to Asian Rivers. There is a something called a “kuznet curve” which is based on a hypothesis that says that as a country gets wealthier, they value their environment more and so protect it, but still want cheap goods, and thus export environmental damage to less wealthy countries. This is why buying locally sourced, responsibly produced products is key to any country/economy. Such actions are about people power – community based!
On the point of legislation, I agree to a point, our government has given more power to the
regulators, the EA. However as legislation has increased, resource to enforce has decreased! It has continued to be the case that the regulator has relied on people to report and monitor
polluters, and pile pressure on to ensure action is taken – community based!
Improvement of sewage treatment is now undertaken by Utility companies. Often at great expense, but paid for by the rates payer, and you know what… it will probably only mean pence on our rates for benefits worth a great deal more. Utility companies are private firms, and what makes them tick…customers. So pressure from customers will invoke action (although it may take time) if they think we don’t care it will continue – community based.
Increased value of riverside property is an interesting issue. As a rivere cologist/conservationist, development on river banks I hate, but increase land value doesn’t have to be money based. How many people who walk across bridges can’t help but look over the bridge? How many people who go for a walk prefer to walk near the sound, or site of water? Encouraging people to walk or be near water improves health and quality of life, but only if the water is clean. But really things come back to money, and so I ask how much do pubs, restaurants, b&b’s, tea rooms.. I could go on… benefit from being near clean water, and not all of these people are wealthy investors of board room types – community benefits.
So this essay comes to end, with one statement. Our cities are often threatened by
river flooding – Why? Not simply because we build on flood plains, but we build on flood plains because we as humans, for both physical and emotional needs want to be near water.