Monday, 10th October 2016

As part of the river rehabilitation work supported by Yorkshire Water, there will be two demonstration days led by Jon Grey at the National Trust property at East Riddlesden Hall.

Two small tributaries join the Aire within the boundaries of the property: one is completely overwhelmed in willow scrub while the other is completely exposed and has been subject to livestock grazing.

The aim is to rehabilitate both to maximise spawning and juvenile habitat potential using simple techniques that conform to exemptions under the new environmental permitting regulations. These are the sort of low-cost approaches that anglers or other groups could easily undertake during work parties on their own waters.

The format of each day (22nd and 29th October) will be similar, running from 1000-1500 (meeting 0945 in the lower car park at East Riddlesden Hall). Participants need only bring suitable outdoor clothing and wellies, and gardening gloves. Loppers, pruning saws, or bow saws could be useful but not essential.

Please contact Jon Grey if you are interested, to help cater with numbers.

Wednesday, 5th October 2016

Weirs are a problem for both resident trout and sea trout as they act as barriers for them to migrate upstream to spawn and downstream to go to sea or find new territories as they grow to adult size. Weirs also disrupt the way that sediment would naturally be eroded and deposited in a river, creating pools of sediment above the weir and excessive erosion below. For more on the impacts of weirs, click here.

Projects that re-connect rivers fragmented by weirs and other barriers is a core part of the WTT’s work.  Wherever practical, the preferred solution is to remove the weir or make a 'notch' to reduce the height and concentrate flow, rather than install (often expensive) fish passes.

Here are a three of examples of WTT projects that have removed weirs or notched weirs in August and September 2016. One is a small project on the River Meon in Hampshire delivered by Andy Thomas (details below).

The second is a larger project on the Brailsford Brook in Derbyshire managed by Tim Jacklin which removed 5 weirs in under three hours ! For some before and after photos of that project, click here.   

The third project involved notching weirs on the Eastburn Beck in Yorkshire. This project was carried out by Jonny Grey of the WTT and Pete Turner of the Environment Agency, with help from volunteers from the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and Bradford Environmental Action Trust. Click here for the story of that project. 

River Meon, Hampshire

Access for migrating fish has been improved along with 150m of channel on the upper Meon at Riplington. WTT delivered an advisory visit to this site in 2014   and identified an old concrete weir structure that was responsible for both holding up fish migrations and also degrading local habitat.

Last week the invert of the concrete weir was finally removed back to the original bed level. The wings of the weir were retained to act as a flume to ensure that the existing downstream plunge pool doesn’t become completely silted up. In addition to the weir removal, a further six pool & run features were created using a tracked excavator. Pools were deliberately created in the lee of existing hawthorn trees to provide optimum holding habitat for pre and post spawning brown and sea trout.

This project was funded by the Pasco James Fund. This fund is regularly topped up thanks to the 3 Fly Competition held each year at Meon Springs.

river meon riplington weir removal

Monday, 3rd October 2016

The EA are looking for two people to lead the fish monitoring programme across Sussex and Hampshire.  This is an exciting opportunity to join the Environment Agency  for someone who has experience in electric-fishing, fish identification and number-crunching.   The vacancies are for 12 months.

Details are here. The post reference is 2944, Environmental Monitoring Office

Monday, 3rd October 2016

A new report published by the IUCN  (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) UK identifies the importance of river restoration for biodiversity.

It recognises that:

'Historically, the conservation movement has paid relatively little attention to rivers. Various types of wetland are very well represented in protected areas, but rivers themselves are hard to conserve in this way, not least because they are often the focus of so much human activity. Yet, rivers are of huge importance for the biodiversity they hold, and the ecosystem services they deliver'. 

The key messages of the report are: 

  • Healthy rivers are important for people and nature, but much historic damage has caused serious problems that now need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
  • River restoration is important for achieving biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
  • Working with nature allows us to achieve many otherwise conflicting objectives.
  • River restoration, working with natural processes and natural flood management, is a cost-effective response to changing climate.

To download the report, click here.


Monday, 19th September 2016

Congratulations to WTT Trout in the Town Programme Manager, Dr Paul Gaskell and the partnership who delivered the Porter Brook Pocket Park Project – it has just won the prestigious 2016 Canal & Rivers Trust award for "Contribution to the Built Environment".

This is a project that we hope will inspire others to free their urban rivers from culverts and create a three-fold ‘win’:  

–      a win for the river and its wildlife,

–      a win for the local residents who have a pocket park with a living stream to enjoy,

–      a win for flood defence as the design incorporates flood storage for a spatey river

Paul will use the considerable experience gained on this project to help urban ‘Trout in the Town’ groups plan and deliver similar daylighting projects.

Take a look at Paul’s blog post here – which includes some footage of him catching the first trout in the de-culverted river for (probably) 160 years.

Type 'Porter' in the search box (top right) to find all the blog posts about this project.

The project was a Partnership between Sheffield City Council, the Environment Agency and the Wild Trout Trust.


Friday, 16th September 2016

The River Forth Fisheries Trust are recruiting three new members of staff to help deliver RiverLife: Almond Avon, an ambitious catchment restoration project aiming to reconnect communities and wildlife to their local rivers.

The roles are: Capital Projects Manager, Community Engagement Officer and a Volunteer Coordinator.

For more details and to view the job descriptions, click here.

Monday, 12th September 2016

Mike Blackmore of the Wild Trout Trust recently ran a practical demonstration day on the River Test in Hampshire, together with Rupert Kelton of the Wessex Chalkstreams & Rivers Trust, the Test & Itchen Association and hosted by riparian owner, Richard Maitland.

The day, attended by seventeen people including many full-time Test keepers, demonstrated a range of simple, natural habitat improvement techniques. The mighty band of volunteers ate through the work, putting eleven large habitat features into a 200m river reach, including hinged-in trees, brushwood berms and a number of big log deflectors, created from huge sycamores and alders. Mike withstood the pressure of an audience of professional river-keepers as he dropped both trees right onto the necessary (and pretty tight) spots!


River Habitat Workshop River Test Sept 2016

Small willows hinged into the margins of the Test make great habitat for trout and many other species.

Test River Habitat workshop


Big trees work well too!

River habitat workshop River Test

Mike Blackmore fells a huge sycamore, subsequently chopped up to make log deflectors to provide habitat variety in a fairly uniform river reach.




Tuesday, 30th August 2016

The world is a hugely poorer place after the recent death of Dr Dylan Bright, formerly Director of Westcountry Rivers Trust.

Dylan was in the vanguard of the rivers trust movement, a pioneer for the principles of paid ecosystems services or natural capital and a fervent advocate for the health of our rivers and their catchments. Dylan possessed an awesome intellect but a self-effacing nature and a gentle capacity to put anyone at ease. I remember his humour and infectious laugh with great fondness. Many, many people are mourning Dylan’s loss, testament to what he achieved in our watery world and the breadth of his friendships. A rare fish – we’ll not see Dylan’s like again.

Click here to read the tribute to Dylan on the Westcountry Rivers Trust website.

Deepest condolences from all at WTT to Dylan’s family and friends.

Dr Dylan Bright

Wednesday, 17th August 2016

According to the Environment Agency statistics for 2015 (Cycle 2), 84% (492 of 585) of waterbodies in Yorkshire do not achieve ‘good ecological status or potential’ under the European Union Water Framework Directive classification. To contribute to countering this worrying statistic, our northern Conservation Officers, Jonny Grey & Gareth Pedley will deliver projects across Yorkshire in line with the government’s Catchment Based Approach plans for river management. These will be in collaboration with the EA, the rivers and wildlife trusts, anglers and local community groups, under a new partnership developed between Wild Trout Trust and Yorkshire Water and supported by the Yorkshire Water Biodiversity Fund.

We will run a series of hands-on events, where groups can get directly involved in practical work to restore, improve and maintain becks, rivers and wetlands and their environs. Each event will highlight to participants the pertinent issues impacting upon the environment at a particular site, such as water usage, land use, barriers to connectivity, and pollution. Then we will carry out focused habitat improvements, working to make life better for the plants and animals that live by and in the water, and the local people who enjoy their surroundings.

Our goal is not only to significantly improve the condition of rivers and wetlands in Yorkshire using professionally guided volunteers and community representatives, but to create, as a legacy, a network of environmental stewardship groups to care for these vital areas into the future.

On the Aire at East Riddlesden, Jonny is coordinating a project to restore two spawning tributaries and create a large semi-permanent wetland which will not only benefit wildlife but also contribute to natural flood management. This is a partnership with the National Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Bingley Angling Club, and local volunteer groups.

On the Nidd, Knaresborough Anglers will be working with Gareth and volunteers over a couple of days to create and restore riparian cover.

In collaboration with the Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust and their Mid Swale Tributaries Project, work is planned to reduce the amount of diffuse pollution, essentially soil, entering Skeeby Beck.

If any of these events are local to you and you are interested in attending, please contact Jonny in the first instance. Keep up to date with developments via the news pages, via Twitter, or via the WTT Blog.


Monday, 15th August 2016

Last week, the first stage of a project to improve habitat along a tributary of the River Aire in N Yorkshire was completed by our Research & Conservation Officer, Jonny Grey, and local EA Fisheries Officer, Pete Turner. Some info on the wider plan is available via the WTT blog, here.

A social media summary of the weir notching has been put together via Storify, here.

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