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Why Presume to Remove Weirs? (with River Dove Case Study)

Weirs and the Backwards Ways that Rivers Work One of my favourite sayings on river restoration is a mangled quote from a movie

"...boxing is an unnatural act. Everything in boxing is backwards: sometimes the best way to deliver a punch is to step backwards...but step back too far and you ain't fighting at all".

So my mangled version starts out "Everything in rivers is backwards...". Basically, I never seem to run out of new examples of "what SEEMS to happen in a river is actually the complete opposite of what really happens".



The rest of this article looks at many of the "backwards" things about weirs and rivers - and finishes off with a real-world case-study that is playing out right now on the River Dove.

One spoiler alert is that, from an ecological point of view, it is almost always safe to assume that:

The best biological outcome for a river is the removal of some or all of an artificial weir. 
Now, I don't expect you to believe that…
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CATCH in Wincanton and News of the First Recorded Wild Brown Trout Following Their Hard Work

Blog posts are like London Buses it seems!

This one is just a very short "Congratulations" to the Folks at CATCH (Community Action to Transform the Cale Habitat) and the video put out by Wincanton Window (embedded below).



All of the folks in the partnership mentioned in the video have done HUGE amounts of work (from classroom education projects to habitat working parties and endless enthusiasm for engaging more people in their local river and much more besides).

A big disclaimer from me is that, although this project is supported by/affiliated with our Trout in the Town project - it has been Mike Blackmore who has fulfilled that role for the WTT rather than myself.

So massive well done to all involved (especially you Gary Hunt!)- it is wonderful to see all of the fish and wildlife coming back to the Cale. Of course, it is absolutely delightful to see that wild brown trout put in an appearance as well!

It seems to be all the rage for recovering urban stream projects in the &q…

Birmingham and Coventry's Urban Waterways

It's about time for a new blog post and I thought it would be good to flag up some of the investigations that I've been doing in conjunction with Waterside Care (which, in itself, is supported by Keep Britain Tidy).

As well as initial investigations on the River Cole around the Shire Country Park and Burberry Brickworks, more recent forays to the little Westley Brook, River Sowe, Stonehouse Brook and a little stream in the Holly Wood Local Nature Reserve (between Great Barr and Queslett) have seen me criss-crossing the M6 and M69 and the surrounding areas.


What always surprises me is just how much of the Black Country/Coventry area is essentially "floating" on a vast network of underground watercourses which suddenly pop up into daylight in surprising places. Of course this puts a lot of pressure onto the biology of these streams - not only from the physical "encasing" of their channels in brick and concrete (both above and below ground).

It is the ever-pre…

Porter Brook Deculverting on Brazilian TV

The deculverting and stream habitat improvement project was picked up by the European news team for Brazilian (!) channel Sistema Brasileiro Televisão or "SBT". Their piece looked at what had been done in Sheffield by the partnership project between Sheffield City Council, EA and Wild Trout Trust to see what could be applied in Brazilian cities and their watercourses.

The Tagline was "What can Sao Paolo Learn from Sheffield? How Industrial Sheffield Uncovered its Rivers" and went out to their reported audience of around 20-million viewers.

If you fancy brushing up on your Portuguese, you can check out the report here:


The embedded news item can be viewed on the SBT site by Clicking Here.

Paul

World Rivers Day 2017 (Grantham)

I had the great pleasure of participating in a fantastic event in the lovely setting of Wyndham Park in Grantham on the River Witham for World Rivers Day 2017.

As well as drawing attention (and deserved accolades) to the habitat improvement works carried out in partnerships between Lincolnshire Rivers Trust, Environment Agency and the good ol' Wild Trout Trust, it was a great chance for enjoyment and learning.

Tons of stalls, tours of the habitat works, invertebrate samples in tanks, Model Rivers, Fly casting with Peter Arfield and Tenkara casting with myself - even an epic pooh sticks race off the bridge in the park. The weather was kind too. Many thanks go to Professor Scrubbington’s Emporium of Clean for supporting the WTT stand and making sure everyone went home sparkling clean!



Throughout the day there was a steady stream of visitors either strolling through the park and becoming engaged in the activities or folks who had seen the social media advertising and come along espec…

First Survey Record of Wild Trout Returning to Lyme Brook Habitat Works Site!

You may have seen the first three phases of works on the middle reaches of the Lyme Brook (shown in previous blogs Here and Here) from project works that began in 2015...

Well although the first surveys after that work found some nice coarse fish populations - there was no cold hard evidence that any trout had found the newly-improved habitat...Until now!
I received a phone call today from Matt Lawrence who is the EA's Catchment Host for the Trent Valley Catchment Partnership (with key partners Groundwork West Midlands and the Wild Trout Trust who conceived and delivered the habitat works). Matt told me that he'd had some exciting preliminary reports from a EA Midlands fisheries surveys team. Their survey on 7th September had caught several wild trout as part of their sample on the habitat works site.
These are the first modern records of trout in the brook and is also the exciting news that we have been waiting for on these first phases of work to create spawning, juvenile an…

Re-Meandering The Upper Lyme Brook

Take a bow Groundwork West Midlands (particularly Richard, Francesca & Chris) - myself and Tim Jacklin from team Wild Trout Trust really enjoyed working with you and the great volunteers from the National Citizens Service.

Together we turned what was one of possibly the straightest of any straightened sections of brook into a section with quite a lot more variety. This is what the section looked like in winter:

Though, in high summer, almost none of the water was actually visible when the 360 digger arrived on site ahead of the volunteers (I wanted a day to sculpt the basic shape of the brook before Tim, Francesca, Chris and the volunteers came on site for days 2 and 3).
So, once we found the wet bit of the river, operator David and me could start to collaborate in remodelling the stream. I'm always in awe of how much control these folks have with a machine and bucket - and we soon got into a great working and communication routine. It is fantastic to see the physical changes …