Ministerial Visit

On Monday this week, WRT was very pleased to have the opportunity to host a meeting with Dan Rogerson MP (Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and representatives from DEFRA, the Environment Agency, the Rivers Trust and South West Water. Jonathan Bailey, Chief Executive of the Trust, said, “The Catchment Based Approach provides a great opportunity to bringing together local people’s enthusiasm, good leadership and both public and private sector funding to make real improvements to our local environment. We can reduce flood risk, improve water quality and improve people’s health and well-being by adopting a catchment wide approach. The visit by Dan Rogerson was a great opportunity for us to showcase some of the environmental and social benefits an integrated catchment approach can have.” Laurence Couldrick, Head of Catchment Management here at the Trust, and Dylan Bright from South West Water did a combined presentation that demonstrated how Upstream Thinking and the Catchment Based Approach combine to provide multiple ecosystem benefits. Brett Grosvenor from the Environment Agency introduced flood risk management into the overall picture and Arlin Rickard from the Rivers Trust brought the whole event together by welcoming the coalition Government’s announcement of another £2,200,000 of national … Continue reading

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First steps in effort to return trout to the Polgooth Stream

The South Cornwall River Improvement Project has now reached the end of its second year and the team has a number of exciting restoration projects underway. The Polgooth Stream, one of the largest tributaries of the St. Austell River (River Vinnick), was identified for delivery of a package of works to make habitat improvements for fish, particularly brown trout. Environment Agency and WRT surveys carried out over the past few years have been unsuccessful in finding any fish in the stream and the aim of this work package is to open up access to the stream, restoring connectivity between the main river and potential salmonid spawning grounds upstream. The Polgooth Stream springs in the hills near Trewoon, near St. Austell, and flows for approximately 4km through agricultural land and the village of Polgooth before entering the main river at London Apprentice.  The stream has been impacted by the regions industrial past since as early as the 16th century, when Polgooth was considered the richest tin and copper mining area in Cornwall and possibly the world. China Clay extraction has also played its part in shaping the stream and, as a result, the stream has lost many of its natural features … Continue reading

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Fighting an Alien Invasion

As part of the South Hams River Improvement Project (SHRImP), the Trust has funding available to carry out coppicing works along river banks in the South Hams to improve the light regime to match requirements for fish across their in-stream habitats. Typically, these coppicing sites are within farm land and include native tree species. However, one site we identified, below the Avon dam and within Dartmoor National Park, provided a unique setting and opportunity to fulfil our target to manage the light regime whilst also removing the invasive species rhododendron. This non-native shrub had spread to cover a ~0.6ha area of moorland. Both Natural England and Dartmoor National Park were in full support of clearance.   Project Officer, Karensa Lawrie, said, “Being a non-native species that grows in dense stands, rhododendron out-competes many of our native species and provides very poor habitat for native invertebrates and other wildlife. The rhododendron at this site had also suffered from previous outbreaks of the plant disease Phytophera and the clearance work provides the added benefit of reducing future disease risk.” The SHRImP project was able to fund clearance of the Western bank alongside the access road to the dam, which is also a popular public … Continue reading

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EVENT: Soil Management – Grassland and Arable Farms

        DATE: Thursday 27th March 2014 TIME: 10:30 am to 1:30 pm VENUE: The Waie Inn, Zeal Monachorum, Crediton, EX17 6DF An increase in the intensity with which we farm the land, combined with larger machinery sizes and weights and heavier rainfall, can cause damage to soils to the extent that crop yields are likely to be reduced. For this event, the Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) and the Taw River Improvement Project (TRIP) have joined forces to invite guest speakers Tim Chamen (ex-National Institute of Agricultural Engineering) and Tim Martyn (ex-IGER – North Wyke) to talk on compaction, tyre choice, cultivation, harvesting and grazing options. Representatives from Michelin Tyres, Ray Hambly Agriccultural Engineering, Simtech Drills, Masons Kings and Opico will also be present. Tea, coffee and and lunch will be provided, paid for with compliments from CFE. Booking is Essential:       01823 355427    

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Assessing storm damage to an eel pass

This week, staff from WRT carried out a rescue mission to retrieve a RAM pump for an eel pass which had become damaged and displaced in the recent high flows. The RAM pump had been installed in association with an eel pass on a weir sluice gate. The pump provides a consistent sweetening flow of water down the pass to ensure effective use of the pass by eels. WRT have been working to improve eel migration over weirs and barriers in the West Country. Eel passes come in a variety of forms and are unique to the barrier they are required to overcome.     This is a photo of Adrian, one of the most experienced members of our fisheries team, who also doubles up as safety guy and all round handyman; the perfect person to safely carry out in-river works in these sorts of flow conditions!  Adrian is kitted out in a dry suit, life jacket and wading stick to safely tackle the deep, fast water. We made sure we didn’t lose him down the river by tethering him to the bank by means of a safety rope.                 Once in the … Continue reading

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River Par Salmon

Could Salmon be returning to the River Par in Cornwall? An adult Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) has been found by the Environment Agency on the river Par, which is thought to be the first adult salmon recorded on the river in recent times.  A few juvenile salmon have been found in the river during more recent fisheries surveys but this is the first incidence where an adult fish was found. The fish, which was around 70cm in length (estimated weight 8-9lb) was found part way up the river system and confirmed as a Atlantic salmon by the Environment Agency, who acted on a call reporting a large fish in the river. The river Par rises near Roche and Victoria and flows down through the historic Luxulyan valley before meeting the sea at Par beach. The river has many pressures facing it, both current and historic. In the past large sections of the lower river have been straightened and canalised, which reduces habitat, while the upper reaches have suffered from historic and present day mineral extraction, with heavy metals often leaching from mined deposits. There are also more subtle pressures including barriers to fish migration and those from agriculture. However the … Continue reading

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NEW iGhillie virtual fishing guides out now!

iGhillie Virtual Fishing Guides to the Westcountry Angling Passport We’re very excited here at the Trust to announce the launch of five new virtual fishing guides, known as iGhillie guides, to some of the beats available on our Westcountry Angling Passport scheme. The videos are now available via the Westcountry Angling Passport website (links below). Dave Chapman, Angling Development Officer here at the Trust, said, “The plan is to have around 10 short film clips with each film following a ghillie around a beat.  The ghillie will discuss how best to approach the beat in question, the best techniques to use and the main areas to concentrate on.  The aim is to give prospective anglers the feel for a beat and some confidence in how to get the best of the fishing available. “Filming on six beats has taken place with the films for four of these available below; the other two films should be available soon.  Filming for the other clips is being programmed to potentially include grayling fishing, late season salmon fishing and fly tying.” Please read on for further information on the five films we have produced so far and for links to the clips on Vimeo… iGhillie 1 – Booking Office Beat 7, The Dairy House Fishery, River Frome, Dorset … Continue reading

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Wildlife and Sporting Art Exhibition

The start of October offers a treat for art lovers in the South West with an exhibition of wildlife and sporting art at the Arundell Arms Hotel in Lifton, Devon running from 4th to 6th October 2013. The exhibition of paintings, sculptures and hand-engraved glass has been curated by Aubrey-Fletcher Fine Art and includes works by Jonathan Pointer, Robin Armstrong, Angela French, Julia Cassels and Philip Lawson Johnston, amongst others. We are delighted and very grateful that a donation will be made to the Trust from the proceeds of the exhibition. Opening times: Friday 4th October, 6 – 8 pm Saturday 5th October, 11 am – 8 pm Sunday 6th October, 11 am – 2 pm Further information about the exhibition and directions to the Arundell Arms are available here:

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Crayfish in Cornwall

Our South Cornwall team made an unusual find this week while carrying out some fish surveys on the rivers of South Cornwall. Matt Healey, Field Officer on the South Cornwall River Improvement Project, said, “We were out doing some electro-fishing when we unexpectedly came across two signal crayfish, a rare sight here in Cornwall.” Signal crayfish were originally brought over from the United States and farmed as a commercial species, before they escaped and started colonising British rivers and streams. They pose a threat to our native white-clawed crayfish because they out-compete the natives for food resources. Signal crayfish also carry a potentially lethal disease which has spread throughout many native populations and caused a rapid decline in white-clawed crayfish population numbers.  Matt continued, “What makes this sighting unusual is that crayfish records are virtually unheard of in Cornwall. There are no records of white-clawed crayfish anywhere in the county at all. This is because of the predominantly acidic nature of the soils and underlying geology, making for unsuitable aquatic conditions for crayfish, as their exoskeleton is partly made up of calcium salts.” Although finding signal crayfish in a Cornish stream can in general be considered bad news, the presence of … Continue reading

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Top Job – The Trust seeks a new Chief Executive

  The Trustees of the Westcountry Rivers Trust wish to appoint a new Chief Executive of the Trust and are seeking an individual with exceptional strategic vision and proven leadership skills to build on the rapid growth that has been achieved in the last few years. With turnover approaching £3.5m and nearly 30 committed and highly qualified staff, the Trust is heavily engaged in delivery of environmental improvements to river catchments in the westcountry and influencing public perception through outreach work in schools and at the highest levels in government. The Trust works with organisations large and small ranging from farmers and local community groups to government agencies, universities and utility companies in the UK. The Trust also leads and participates in transnational EU funded projects.   The Chief Executive will report through the Chairman to an influential board of Trustees.  The successful applicant is likely to hold a PhD or equivalent in an environmental discipline and have a wide appreciation of water resource and environmental management.  The role presents an outstanding opportunity to shape the reality and perception of how society uses and values our rivers and landscape both in terms of management skills and through the application of proven science. … Continue reading

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