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Showing posts from 2008

Substance over Style

Young Nathan from Omagh in County Tyrone with his first Brown Trout - a wild urban fish. How do you quantify the enrichment that angling brings to individuals, communities and the environment?

Trout in the Town is looking forward to working with the SUBSTANCE group (a not-for-profit cooperative: http://www.substance.coop/) in understanding the benefits to society of participation in angling. In addition, such effects as "angling as a gateway to conservation" will also be quantified. All of our Trout in the Town project teams will be issued with the research questionnnaires produced by SUBSTANCE. There are also plans to specifically target very detailed investigations on one or two selected town communities. The overall SUBSTANCE project is outlined below - and it is mainly to research questions 1 and 2 that Trout in the Town will be contributing. The Social and Community Benefits of Angling
A 3-Year Research Project by Substance,
funded by the Big Lottery Research Fund
Project De…

Litter removal on the Silver Screen

Catch a glimpse of Thames21's (and the River Cray's) very own Ashe Hurst on BBC's "Wild About Your Garden". The episode "Tales from the Riverbank" is all about a section of the lower Cray and a garden that backs onto it. Hopefully, some Trout in the Town offspring will find their way downstream to these reaches to become a handful of very large predatory Ferox in years to come.....Here is the link to the programme:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00fnppt

Unexpected award

We were really pleased (and surprised) to find out that Dreamstore (http://www.dreamstore.org/home/) have chosen to give an award to the Trout in the Town project. Dreamstore supports and promotes activities which benefit education, social inclusion, and conservation through fishing. Trout in the town is very much community based and runs through the hard work and participation of both conservation and angling club volunteers. Therefore, the WTT is extremely pleased that Dreamstore have recognised Trout in the Town with their very kind award.

River Erewash

One project that I was very remiss in not feeding back on recently is the great work that the folks on the River Erewash are doing. They have some encouraging shots (e.g. above) of potential spawning habitat from a recent river walk on their project blog (linked on the right). These are a great bunch of guys with a fantastic "can do" attitude and the WTT is delighted to be able to offer support. Although the Erewash doesn't fit neatly into a formal "Trout in the Town" project, the WTT's flexibility means that we can offer technical and practical assistance as and when required. However, at the end of the day; it is all the hard work and dedication of the Erewash restoration group that will bring about change and improvements. This is a great reminder that for all projects with any WTT involvement, the credit for making everything happens lies with the volunteers who stand up and are counted on behalf of their local streams. Well done guys, and I eagerly loo…

Don dooby doo Don Don (comma comma)

Right now we are looking into whether a Trout in the Town project could be started on the River Don in Sheffield. Its early days yet and feasibility is still being investigated. I had a look today at the top of the section that could be considered. Although there is a lot of coloured flood water in the river today, the riffle/pool sequence of the river is still evident and suggests that there could be good habitat to work with. Both clips taken from the same point - one facing upstream and one downstream

Metamorphosis in the Classroom

A concept that Trout in the Town wants to work on, produce printed educational material for and take into schools is "Mayfly in Classrooms". Through this, students would learn about and witness the lifecycle of iconic invertebrates as well as experiencing real-life hatches on their very own local "outdoor classrooms". Crucially, the accompanying educational material would include accounts of how each and every facet of the aquatic AND riparian (terrestrial) habitats are interdependent.
Aquatic invertebrates lend themselves to education about aquatic conservation very readily. Their biology perfectly illustrates requirements for good aquatic habitat. They also play a pivotal role in linking aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity. These less well known aspects of their biology would (for most people) include the crucial subsidies that aquatic invertebrates make to terrestrial predators once they metamorphose and take to the air. In this way, calorific energy that has a…

Following on

So, following a couple of weeks out of the country, here are some quick updates on what is going on at Trout in the Town. We are arranging a second half-day visit to the River Cray to finalise a technical report to give our advice on the most effective restoration measures for this great little chalk river. The report will be made available (as an AV report) on the WTT website (http://www.wildtrout.org/) by the end of October. Similarly, a follow up report on the Trout in the Town visit to the beautiful (but frequently water-starved) Glazert Water, Lennoxtown will also be finalised and is planned to be made available on the WTT website as well. Ironically, when Trout in the Town visited; the river catchment was under prolonged, freak, torrential rainfall (picture). As ever with Trout in the Town, we are always exploring ways to reach out into local communities. We have got what we believe will be an exciting and completely new classroom initiative (more details to follow when technical…

Spotted amongst the ring-pulls and house bricks

This little chap was seen hanging out in the town centre recently.

Updates will follow regarding the recent tour of sites and potential projects in the coming weeks

Ashe's tour

I've just spent two days being given the first hand low down/backstage tour of around 8km of urban chalkstream. As a result I thought I'd post photos and a very superficial account of Thames21 Head River Keeper Ashe Hurst's patch. Ashe and his team of volunteers have a continuous rolling clear up and maintenance programme that have taken his river from ASBO to pillar of the community over the six years of work since 2002. Ashe knows everyone on his patch, is a qualified angling coach and manages volunteer river keepers in regular education as well as youngsters on probation. Ashe enforces maintenance of unmowed buffer strips next to the river, an ongoing programme to eliminate invasive vegetation, installation (at strategic spots) and regular stripping of litter booms as well as established refuse collection points/skip hire. The result is that sections of river previously qualifying for "wet landfill" status are now diverse wildlife corridors. I'm sure Ashe …

Trout on Tour

Trout in the Town will be visiting the following places over a two-week stint to find out how and where we can be most effective in delivering urban restoration in local communities:

River Ise (Kettering)
River Glazert (Glasgow)
River Cray (London)
Driffield Beck (Driffield centre)
River Erewash (Nottinghamshire)

In addition, support and visits will be made to existing projects on The Wandle, Colne and Goyt.
Watch this space for developments and updates and email me with news of your own local projects on pgaskell@wildtrout.org

Fair Game at the Game Fair

Just to catch up with a quick report on the CLA Gamefair. Trout in the Town featured prominently on the WTT stand - with its artificial stream including an urbanised section for the first time. Features such as cobbled stream bed and concrete slab side walls were augmented with a couple of "fly tipped" black bin bags, an old pallet and a couple of bottles to represent typical problems faced by urban watercourses. This feature was a surprisingly effective draw (either to people who immediately "got" it - or, perversely, also for people who started to complain that the bottom end of our display looked a state......cue WTT "yes we think its unacceptable too: step this way and hear about our urban restoration project").
Entirely unexpectedly, it also turned into a spontaneous sociological experiment. Throughout the weekend the "fake" rubbish was supplemented by an increasing amount of litter deposited by the general public. A perfect illustration of …

The Craying game

Just a very short heads up about another fine bunch of people operating around the English capital. Thames21 is doing great things to regenerate urban waterways through community involvement. Trout in the Town will be visiting the River Cray (a Thames21 river) soon to meet Ashe Hurst and Chris Coode to see what we can learn from them and also to explore whether the WTT can have useful inputs into future work. In the meantime, please check out their great website on the link below:
http://www.thames21.org.uk/aboutthames21.html

Quaggy Island

My colleague Denise introduced this fantastic project to me recently; revolutionary in a couple of respects. Firstly, that they managed to argue for re-instating a deliberately flooding wetland regime to "flood the parks - not the properties". Secondly the ambition to carry out a "daylighting" programme. Daylighting is code for digging out the river from its underground culvert. It is not a trivial undertaking. Hear and read all about this wonderful project on the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/science/nature_20070514.shtml

Also check out the link to their project pages in my blog link list to the right of this page. Just look at what they have already achieved:



1989 Proposal to enlarge and extend concrete channelling along the Quaggy for flood alleviation.

1990 QWAG successfully argues that flooding is best alleviated by water storage.

1994 QWAG publishes Operation Kingfisher - a plan for full river restoration of the River Quaggy.

2002 The River Quaggy…

Glorious Good Wood

Last Thursday I accompanied Tim Jacklin on an advisory visit to Cheshire's "Eaton Flyfishers" water on the River Dane. This is a stretch of rural river (rather than a Trout in the Town stretch) - but I was looking to learn from Tim's wealth of experience in general habitat restoration. The potential benefit of this would be two-fold; firstly for expanding my own knowledge and secondly for me to explore potential translations of rural restoration techniques into urban counterparts. On our visit we found a lovely, well featured stretch of river that formed an interesting riffle-pool series with a nice variety of light and shade. It was particularly gratifying to see a good selection of large woody debris (LWD) that had been allowed to remain in the channel. The cover and bed scouring provided by LWD is of huge importance to the trout and is often sadly lacking in many river reaches. The influence of such debris on the flow characteristics also provides some much neede…

Weirs tha bin?

Admittedly, the pun in the title only works if you are familiar with South Yorkshire dialect. However, the industrial North has a particularly large selection of barriers to fish movement in the form of artificially engineered weirs. These affect all gravel spawning species of fish (from barbel, grayling and trout throught to the big hitters of the migratory reproducers; the eels and salmon). In addition, all barriers to movement (including weirs) reduce the ability of fish to avoid pollution incidents and/or subsequently return to their home patch. Moreover, the impoundment of water behind weirs increases the siltation by reducing current speed (sometimes for surprisingly long distances upstream of the structure - depending on weir head height and stream bed slope). Increased siltation is obviously not good for spawning gravels. Regulated slow flows also tend to homogenise the habitat in the impounded reaches, resulting in lower variety of invertebrates and fewer good holding feature…

Loneliness of the long distance runner...

Studying the paperwork on existing projects (and having met a number of the staunch activists involved in these things) set me thinking about the personal qualities required to take on urban habitat restoration. The moniker "unsung heros" about hits the nail on the head I think. Making things happen by shear force of will, personality and persistence takes a very special (and rare) breed. It can be especially hard when none of your immediate peers are able to offer advice and practical support - simply because you are in uncharted territory with very little precedent for guidance. That's why the WTT thought that it could be helpful to get the key people from all the Trout in The Town projects across the UK together for a workshop social event. Advice and lessons learned from bitter experience will be shared/commiserated along with encouragement from those seasoned campaigners who have overcome obstacles that others are still to face. Make no mistake, these projects all …

1st-2nd July 2008

My first two days in the job have already begun to give a sense of the huge potential for developing the Trout in the Town movement. However, I use the phrase "begun to give" advisedly because there is so much potentially great work to be done out there. At the moment there are at least 7 projects that are already in train (at various stages of progression). I will be poring over the details of each of these (along with the details of a similar number of prospective projects) and meeting the various activists driving these projects over the next couple of months.







As an amazing treat, I had the privilege of fishing the wonderful Lancashire Colne along with the WTT director yesterday; before meeting with the local stakeholders (lead by the trusty Andy Pritchard). These guys have already hauled around 3 tons of scrap out of the river during one of their clean ups and we are drawing up battle plans for the continuing restoration on this cracking river. We were delighted to catch…