Planning and preparation
December 14, 2011
As the end of 2011 looms ever closer we are starting to consolidate and prepare for 2012. It’s hard to believe all that we’ve done in this year – has only been done in a year. I caught myself writing an email to a colleague about a meeting we had in September and it felt so long ago that I wrote “the meeting we had last year”!!
What our new staff are achieving in a short space of time is also incredible. Katie has almost completely captured all the EA data and displayed in GIS, and has been making site visits to prepare river surveys etc. The Darwen is going to be a really challenging area to work on, the most significant part of the work so far has been that the EA’s historical research shows that the Darwen is unlikely to have ever been an anadromous fish (sea trout and salmon) river. This is due to some significant water falls at Red Rock, which has a weir built on top, but even without the weir and downstream scour seems to be impassable. This does NOT change the project significantly. Now the focus will be in trying to re-connect local trout populations, and coarse fish populations. Moving slightly away from ecology the project will also try to change attitudes toward the river such that pollution is reduced, this will improve the river locally bu also further downstream.
The invasives project is going well, the new reporting website is on line www.lancashireinvasives.org where a simple way for the general public to report invasive species. You can report invasives not just in Lancashire but in the whole of the Ribble Catchment. Once reported it is verified by Charlie and Adam and then displayed on line. I encourage all to use this site, if you’ve out walking and see Japanese Knotweed or Himalayan Balsam, when you get back in and are on the internet, take 2 minutes just to fill in the form. Invasives were listed as one of the key priorities within the Ribble Catchment by stakeholders. There are now 27 mink traps out being operated by volunteers, who are also picking up information on other invasives and talking to landowners to encourage their involvement in the project.
Ribble Life is moving forward we have now engaged with approximately 30% of the stakeholders that were identified at the begining of the project, so far we have come up with around 12 potential projects and are now looking at the constraints and how to take these forward. If you would like to be involved or have a group that delivers river improvement work, whether physical river bank activities or educational, please get in touch at our office and ask to speak to Jo or email email@example.com.
Gareth is has analysed last years electro fishing data and is now writing up his report, at our AGM in November he presented the basic results and it was interesting to see that trout juvenile populations seemed to remain fairly constant, but there were decrease in salmon juveniles across the catchment. Much of this was felt to be the result of the extremely cold winter and the dry spring. We are already eager for 2012 season to come round as this winter has been very different to the previous 3! Gareth is also working on our salmon tagging project, which is moving ahead nicely, and all things being well we will see this project start in February. So keep an eye out for floy tagged fish – tags that are attached to fish around the dorsal fin so keep an eye out for these, and if you catch one – at anytime of the year – please return it, and let us know!
Vic Dewhurst has started with us for the on URES, she knows Burnley and many of the groups and has made fantastic headway. We had our first steering group meeting and where we discussed various engagement ideas, and in January we will be getting back together to move 6 – 10 of the ideas forward. Some bad news, with a silver lining, since the last post there was a large fish kill on the River Brun in Burnley. Since I joined the trust I have seen several fish kills but nothing on this scale, a complete wipe out of all fish over 2kms. The EA are now working on the case, and we hope they get a good result. The silver lining… I was around Burnley on the day and found a large (38cm) trout this looked suspiciously silver, but when trout die and are left in water they often pale, to investigate further I took some scale samples and checked them under a microscope, to find that the fish was only 2 winters old!! This means that it was a SEA TROUT in BURNLEY above our fish pass! If you wonder why scales can tell me this, a wild brown trout normally takes 4 years or good feeding to get to this size, to get this big in 2 means it must have gone to see to feed on rich feeding. So although it was killed by pollution it shows a) all our fish passes are working (well except for the occasional blockage) and b) sea trout have drifted into the area. I believe that this was possibly the first sea trout in Burnley centre in over 200 years – things look good for the future!
Stephen has been busy working up next years work programs and we have applied for funding for some of this work already, and will continue to apply in the near future. The work is all around the catchment from the Yorkshire Dales, to Colne Water and the Hodder. This will involve lots of Large Woody Debris, fencing, and tree planting, so I hope you volunteers are feeling enthusiastic and fit for next year!!
What else have we been up to? Well we have now submitted applications and secured land owner permissions for our fish easement on Chipping brook. Richard Atton and I have continued to work on the Cam and Gayle Beck project, we started the grip blocking on Monday of this week!!!
As well as the grip blocking Richard has been working with volunteers and some Trust staff on tree planting on Cam Beck.
I’ve started prep for some more of next years fish passes and easements, and been doing lots of engagement work under the Ribble Life project. We also had a day out on Swanside with volunteers from Mitre Anglers making amendments to Swanside weir to improve fish passage. It’s been a real pleasure over the last 2 months as watching all the work and planning that Philip, Myself and the Trustees have been doing over the last 2 years suddenly coming to fruition is fantastic! Next year will be another Big delivery year for RRT, but perhaps a little less than the last two years, the amount of work we do will increase significantly, this might sound like a conundrum but next year we plan to put in place a lot of preparation work for 2013 which we plan to make the biggest year of delivery ever!
We are putting the final touches to our newsletter that will be out in the new year, I hope those that aren’t members sign up soon so you can have a copy of this sent to your door!