Environmental Improvement Works.

Letting in the light

You will recall that the impetus for the formation of the Campaign was the damage being done to salmon and sea trout  stocks by poachers, and that still remains a major concern. However over time a broader understanding of other issues impacting upon the survival of these species has developed, so we have broadened our approach and made a serious, albeit small, effort to try to contribute towards in river habitat improvement. As a generalisation, it is probably true to say that the stretches of our rivers owned by or leased to anglers and angling clubs are relatively well maintained: branches are trimmed and most in river obstructions cleared away and some in river alterations are made to improve flows or form pools or runs. The same cannot be said for the small tributaries, yet these are where many of the salmon and sea trout go to spawn and where the alevin and par begin their development before they migrate into the main river from which they later head out to sea. Many of these tributaries are neglected, trampled by farm animals and in many cases deprived of light by long neglected and overgrown bushes and trees that were perhaps, years ago, laid hedges maintained by a multitude of farm labourers. These labourers  are no longer there and the management of the hedges perhaps no longer a priority. One of our members has a grandfather who, many years ago, was an enthusiastic poached and his father well remembers the water from where the salmon were poached. We went to visit one of these once prolific streams in early spring, to look for signs of fish life: there were none. The stream was so overgrown and deprived of light that even in the spring little light penetrated the canopy above. We turned stones and looked in all the likely places but found not a sign of in river life: not a single invertebrate and certainly no sign of fish life. We followed the stream towards its junction with the main river and were delighted to find that for the last few hundred yards of its length it was open to the light, the water was gin clear, in river weed growth was flourishing as were the many little parr  that scattered at our approach.

Making a real difference

 

As a consequence of this discovery we made an appeal to the Trust, who reacted with enthusiasm and who have now made great advances in fencing the stream, adding drinking access and crossing points for livestock and removed a number of trees. As a consequence the water now has a good dappled lighting and already small fish have been discovered in the water. The Trust however cannot maintain these newly fenced stretches, which will, if neglected soon revert to their old condition. The Campaign has volunteered to carry our maintenance work to ensure that this does not happen in the hope the stream will, in time, become a salmon and seat trout nursery once more. The work required is light but extensive so volunteers are needed to help maintain and improve the habitat during those early spring months after the fish eggs have hatched and before the birds start to nest. We appeal for your help. Please email 1highplains@gmail.com or call 01745 857627 to register your interest.