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Showing posts from July, 2008

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:

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: 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 Quagg

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 needed

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 features

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 c

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