Summer 2011 updates

2011 is turning out to be quite a tumultuous year so far following the great success of our urban conclave and Wandle Practical Visit early on. A changing of the guard in the Sheffield Project as John Blewitt stepped down as chair to pursue a focus in youth angling coaching has lead to a re-organisation at SPRITE (Sheffield Project for Rivers in Town Environments). We have now created several new posts that were previously components of the chairperson's role and have run some fantastic invasive plant removal events (both independently and in partnership with Winn Gardens Tenants and Residents Association (Winntara) and the Rivelin Valley Conservation Group: http://www.rivelinvalley.org.uk/).
Balsam Removal at Winn Gardens: Before
The same mid-stream island after Balsam removal
SPRITE has also purchased some “stem injection” kit for controlling Japanese knotweed infestations and we are in the process of obtaining the appropriate licence to use glyphosate weedkiller next to watercourses. The huge advantage of stem injection is the specific targeting of individual invasive plants– and a lack of overspray of weedkiller onto non-target native plants and the adjacent river. For a great example of this – and also to credit the E.A. flood risk management teams for tackling invasive plants in areas where flood mitigation works are carried out – the section of the River Don adjacent to Club Mill Road in Sheffield has recently been treated with stem injection kit by teams under the instruction of Jonathan Moxon and his colleagues at the E.A. This has come about through our ongoing dialogue with the E.A. through Jonathan as we work to improve the efficacy and environmental benefits of flood risk works.
One of several sections of the knotweed infestation treated by the E.A. flood risk management team on the Don

Mayfly in the Classroom (www.mayflyintheclassroom.org ) training has been provided to establish the project in Basingstoke, as well as a special group training day for 4 schools in the Milton Keynes area at George Eaton’s fantastic outdoor classroom facility that is part of the award winning Rectory Farm http://www.rectory-farm.org.uk/ . This event was scheduled to be run by myself but the onset of what transpired to be epilepsy in my 6-month old son meant that my colleague Tim Jacklin stepped in and saved the day (thanks Tim!).

We have also been in negotiation with the relevant E.A. regulatory people over the habitat works that I designed for the River Erewash in Nottinghamshire. Following a degree of back and forth since early this year over the proposed designs and the relevant site visits, it seems that we may be progressing towards being granted permission to do the habitat works installation (hopefully before autumn this year when the trout will start to think about spawning).
Example of proposed works on Erewash
This will be carried out as part of a WTT “Practical Visit” where staff from the Trust train local volunteers how to carry out the prescribed improvement works. Practical visits (staff time and materials) are sponsored by the WTT funding infrastructure and are free to recipients (up to a maximum value of £1800). In the meantime, Tim Jacklin has dropped in on the River Erewash Foundation to train them in the use of their new gravel cleaning machine (an adapted leaf blower – bought following a seed-corn funding donation from the Trout in the Town project to the REF: http://www.rivererewashfoundation.co.uk/)
REF volunteers being trained in the delicate art of spawning gravel cleaning
A day spent surveying the river Irwell with the “Action Irwell/Salford Friendly Anglers” (http://actionirwell.blogspot.com/ and http://www.salfordfriendlyanglers.co.uk/) group was used to help identify potential sites to be incorporated in their planned Riverfly Partnership Anglers’ Monitoring Initiative (http://www.riverflies.org/index/riverfly_monit.html). The group has subsequently received their invertebrate sampling and identification training and the monitoring plan is being put into action. In the interests of multitasking, I also carried out the necessary investigations to compile an Advisory Visit report to identify potential habitat bottlenecks and any relevant ecological issues on the Irwell. The resultant report identified a series of recommendations to address the identified issues that the Irwell group are finding very useful in presenting to potential project partners as well as to council and regulatory representatives. The report also makes direct links to the priorities identified in the relevant Water Framework Directive “River Basin Management Plans” to show how the Irwell group can help the E.A. achieve the required ecological improvements. Wild Trout Trust members can sign into the members’ area on the WTT website and read the report in full (www.wildtrout.org). The visit, including its follow-up report, was delivered free of charge using Trout in the Town funding provided by the E.A. and the Esmée Fairbairn foundation.
One of around 300 consented discharges on the Irwell - this one benefits from investment in improved water treatment

I could not let this entry pass without making special mention of the fantastic progress that the Wandle Trust have been making this year. Previous posting has covered the terrific urban conclave and the attendant WTT practical visit hosted by the Wandle Trust (http://urbantrout.blogspot.com/2011/03/return-of-urban-conclave-even-bigger.html ). The Wandle Trust and the Wild Trout Trust have a long shared history (long may it continue!) and I am very proud of the technical training input and habitat/wild trout population restoration strategy developed through the Trout in the Town project. I am equally in awe of the amazing way that the Wandle Trust has implemented their habitat works programme and seamlessly integrated it at a whole river scale (with particularly large doses of kudos to Wandle Trust Director Bella Davies required!). Read the Wandle Trust Blog entries from 20th July 2011 (weir notching at Carshalton) up to the most recent entries to see how much work all of the Trust staff, trustees and volunteers are putting in (www.wandletrust.org)
See below for snapshots of weir "notching" to improve fish passage and also increase upstream current speeds, gravel importation, new margin creation in narrowed, faster-flowing channel as well as planting up of new margin adjacent to imported gravel riffle. Fantastic work (with more to come!).