Trout in the Town Blog

22/10/2010 - 16:10

SPRITE came runners up in the 2010 Sheffield Telegraph community environmental project awards this week.

This is great recognition for all the hard work done both on the conservation of the river but also for the invaluable community engagement and education that everone involved has put into the city of Sheffield.

Very well done also to this year's Winners - Wisewood School.
18/10/2010 - 10:32
Please follow the link below and click on the video thumbnail to watch a short film that outlines the work of the Wild Trout Trust, with particular reference to some of the Trout in the Town work done in Sheffield and Colne in East Lancashire:
Fish On DVD
13/09/2010 - 09:09

Please see the photos and text on the link (below) that shows what we have been up to all last week on New Mills' River Goyt near Stockport:

River Goyt PV

20/08/2010 - 17:35

Very hot news just in is that after many months (years!) of assessment, planning, design, negotiation and hard work; permission has just been granted for my design of habitat restoration and enhancement works to go ahead on the upper Carshalton arm of the Wandle.

Many thanks to Bella from the Wandle Trust hosting our E.A. flood risk assessor and putting our case so well and also great effort from Tanya in E.A. fisheries for making the weir removal programme happen.

An extensive array of structures will be installed over around 600 m of river which will create high quality spawning and adult holding habitat along with some additional juvenile habitat to complement the existing opportunities for young trout. When this is coupled with the increased connectivity along this section of the Wandle (through a combination of weir removals and fish pass installation), then the potential for robust self-sustaining populations of wild trout will be greatly increased.
The final piece of this part of the puzzle will come with the hoped-for opportunity to import wild trout parr from nearby in the catchment. Rather than depleting adult brood stock from the donor site - juveniles will be sourced from a population that is producing a natural surplus of parr (mixture of 0+ and 1+ age classes)in a comparable stream. In this way, with the phasing in of sterile "triploid" eggs for use in "Trout in the Classroom" instead of fertile hatchery strain fish - the adaptable and well-prepared wild fish will have the best chance of establishing themselves and successfully breeding in the Wandle once more. The classroom fish have done an admirable job in proving that survival, growth and even a little spawning can happen in stream (they have been the canaries in the cage). The next exciting phase is hoped to be to see how the streetwise wild fish take to their new home.
26/05/2010 - 13:28
Lots of stuff going on at the moment (that’s the problem with blogging, when there’s loads to write about, you haven’t got time to write it). Therefore, the briefest of briefs (not in the underwear sense) for my recent activities would include, but not be limited to, the following:
Mayfly in the Classroom Taking Wing in both urban and also transferring to rural settings too.

A hugely successful (judging by the reaction of the kids alone) run of Mayfly in the Classroom (MIC) in the Staffordshire area was delivered by WTT (Paul Gaskell, Tim Jacklin) and Severn Trent Water (Hanna Sandstrom) staff in three schools. This was part of a collaborative project between WTT, Trent Rivers Trust and Severn Trent Water to teach the value of protecting stream habitat, water quality and water quantity through a variety of practical (and locally relevant) actions. In the process the children learnt about (and got very attached to) the mayfly nymphs and resultant adults in their care. Memorable quotes from the pupils included “You are the best men ever” (not sure how Hanna should take that) and, more importantly, “Mayfly and trout are indicator species that tell us when streams have clean water”.
This experience has been mirrored by the children who received their Mayfly in the Classroom from the chaps at the Monnow Fisheries Association (http://monnow.org/default.aspx ); who booked themselves some “trainer training” from yours truly so that they could deliver the activities in schools.

The quote (this time from a rather self-deprecating local E.A. person) that stands out for the Monnow MIC venture is “that has probably done more for our rivers, in one morning, than I did in 20 years working for the EA”.
Becky Helm from Eden Rivers Trust http://discover.edenriverstrust.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=78&Itemid=403 has also been running MIC in 6 schools in the Carlisle area using the online resources and following a little bit of training and some equipment supply from Trout in the Town...updates to follow.
I’m also very pleased that Greenstreams (an urban river restoration/protection project prompted by a WTT auction lot winner and whose steering group TinTT sits on: http://www.greenstreams.org.uk) is adopting MIC as a cornerstone of its suite of educational tools in Huddersfield. Naturally it fits very well into the Riverfly days to be run by Calder and Colne Rivers Trust.
Finally for MIC updates, staff at Notre Dame High School received MIC trainer training so that it can be used in the Hallam City Learning Centre “Environmental Learning Centre” http://www.hallamclc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=70&Itemid=88 which will be used by around 20 local schools to deliver environmental education (now including MIC). Hopefully you will agree that this educational tool developed by TinTT for use in urban areas is giving great benefit to pupils and teachers in urban and rural areas alike.
In other urban work, I’ve recently prepared and submitted detailed plans for proposed habitat works on the upper River Wandle. I’m really hoping that we can navigate successfully through the very difficult territory of arranging all the necessary permissions and consents to get the green light for this work as it will be very cool (thanks to Tanya Houston of E.A. fisheries and all the Wandle Trust crew for pushing the consents side of things forward). This is especially exciting given this years’ “proof of concept” by the Trout in the Classroom fish who have managed to produce some offspring in stream this year. If we are able to reach our dream and introduce wild trout parr into the restored upper reaches then they should have a bonanza.
Elsewhere in the Greater London Area – Ashe Hurst is doing a great job in pushing through the thankless task of obtaining consents for WTT and Thames21 collaborative habitat works. Keep the faith Ashe, we’ll get there in the end!
World Tour of Wales
In addition to the MIC training delivered to the Monnow Fisheries Association (MFA), I also undertook a catchment-wide survey of the Monnow system hosted by Patrick Lloyd and Rob Denny of the MFA in order to assess and augment their already expansive plans and activities on their rivers. A two-day affair, which was preceded by a day visit to the lovely Rhondda Fach hosted by the fine Owen Mealing. In both the rural and post-industrial settings of these two venues, the importance of considering catchment scale processes acting on our upland rivers is very apparent. The increasingly flashy nature of many upland rivers can be attributed to aggressive drainage practices often associated with some peat moorland or coniferous forestry (and also increases in areas of hard standing drainage in urban areas). Good sediment management and understanding the process of sediment inputs is absolutely vital to the future sustainability of the Monnow system (again associated with land use) and the report I furnished the MFA with helps to target this issue. I am really hopeful and very keen that Owen can get our first Welsh chapter of Trout in the Town established and use it to help the local community to enjoy and care for their beautiful recovering river. The week was rounded off by attending a cross-disciplinary conference hosted in Bala, North Wales to introduce volunteers, angling club members and numerous interest groups to local E.A. fisheries staff (as well as hosting a programme of expert guest speakers highlighting fisheries issues in the region). But my next visit to Wales had to wait a couple of weeks so that I could take a tour of the majestic River Taff, as hosted by Colin Chapman. Again, on the back of that visit there are some exciting ways in which the WTT and the local anglers can work together on behalf of their river.
In terms of communicating useful/interesting information to the masses, I did a flying visit to Louth in Lincolnshire to speak at Lincolnshire Chalk Streams project’s “Water for Wildlife” conference. This gave me a chance to pass on the ways in which community engagement/education tools that I’ve developed for TinTT could be adapted and applied more widely to habitat conservation projects in all areas (rural or urban).
Still sticking with passing on tools developed and applied to TinTT, the first draft of my “Urban Restoration guidelines” manual is currently being reviewed by my colleagues. Revisions will be undertaken and the layout/design agreed with a July publication date in mind. Watch this space for everything you needed to know about standing up to be counted on behalf of your urban rivers. Thoughts and preparations are already being made for the CLA gamefair this year and we’ll also be going over to the Northern Ireland Fly fair as well as the Bakewell show, so on that note; I’ll sign off with another quote from one of our dear members to whom I was chatting at the Annual Get Together this year. Upon enquiring of me what I did for the WTT, and hearing that I was tasked with managing the TinTT project across the UK......”Is that all?
Yes (and no).
15/04/2010 - 16:41
I am told that there is an African Proverb (borrowed by many including Al Gore!) that says “If you want to go fast; go alone. If you want to go far; go together”. You can see these words on the displays at the Eden Project in the UK and also see how they’ve adhered to the principle in their exhibits of sustainable futures for the planet (http://www.edenproject.com/). The theme of forming a strong group in order to move mountains is pretty much the central feature of TinTT local chapters. Going together, though, is easier said than done…

If History (at least according to Edmund Blackadder) is anything to go by, then it is perhaps unclear what aspects of dear Queenie we could usefully learn from her assertion that “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a Concrete Elephant!”. Perhaps a clearer message is the more conventionally reported quote of:
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too…I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field”.
That is more like it, and is something of the attitude that we should all draw inspiration from – especially with our local project groups and volunteer river conservation efforts. Nowhere better is this captured than by the example of another redoubtable lady (this time from more recent history). What caught my attention (whilst driving with the radio on in the background) recently was this piece about the founding of a premier league football club (radio4).
Anna Connell is believed to be the only female founder of a professional football club in the world. The formation itself was part of her work (with her father’s support) to make a better society for the young working men of the day. What made the biggest impression on me was the fact that Anna’s “right hand man”, William Beastow had, himself, previously attempted to set up a men’s football team. However, he had been forced to concede defeat, disheartened by the declining attendance.
The crucial point is that Anna was also faced with the same problem. The only difference is, she refused to give in and by force of personality and persistence eventually beat down the apathy that had threatened her team. By the time the name had changed from St Mark’s Church football team to Gorton Association Football club in 1884, it had solidified into the club that would become Manchester City.

Its worth thinking about that a little bit – the only difference between zero and a massive premier league club is that the founder did not give up, and would not take no for an answer.

The Archdeacon of Manchester told one meeting of Anna Connell's Men's Meetings: "It must be a great source of encouragement to see how the movement had been taken up, and the highest credit was due to Miss Connell for the way in which it had been carried out. No man could have done it - it required a woman's tact and skill to make it so successful."
Whilst that is a kind complement to Anna from the old dude in a frock, it somewhat lets us blokes off the hook. We should not take the lack of a particular set of rude bits as permission to give up on something if it is truly worthwhile.

Last year's holiday trip to Japan also came to mind for this blog post. In Japan, as with any nation, the climate has had an important influence on the development of social characteristics. This climate of hot summers and prolific rainy season favours intensive agriculture – and forced people to work in tight knit cooperative communities in order to tackle the labour of irrigation, planting and harvesting in limited space. In order for the aims of the group to be achieved, people frequently had to put the group’s needs ahead of their own feelings. This maintenance of “wa” (harmony) was often achieved through “aimai” or polite ambiguity in communication – with the avoidance of stating opinions that would derail the group’s efforts. Whilst there are many extremes in Japanese culture (not always with healthy outcomes), the kind of dignified and diligent pursuit of common goals is something that anyone would do well to acknowledge. The important thing is having clarity about the important, over-arching aims of any group endeavour – and then doing what is necessary to achieve those aims.

Going together is seldom easy, but history is full of examples of how far it can take you. There will be many more (unrecorded) instances of where giving up on the group resulted in nothing at all.
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