Trout in the Town Blog

18/08/2017 - 13:29

You probably know the basic story now (e.g. This Yorkshire Post article), but whether you do or you don't, it is worth reflecting that this whole project was given the go-ahead because it tackled a number of critical problems.

A big one was the flood risk posed by blockages in the original culvert - but Sheffield CC went beyond that and created an "amphitheatre" shaped park that actually created even more flood-water storage than an open channel would. They didn't stop there though, and with the help of multiple partners (including us at the Wild Trout Trust, the Environment Agency and also community volunteers from SPRITE as well as local offices such as the prestigious Jaywing advertising agency), a valuable urban green-space was created. This video explains all that (and also has a lush clip of a rising trout that made my day when I filmed it):

Here's the really exciting thing for me though, as well as the aesthetic amenity value of the formal planting in the park's landscape, there was also a genuine will to have meaningful ecological benefits too. This is possibly one of the Pocket Park's greatest successes - the blending of formal/aesthetic planting schemes in the terraces of the park with wild, native flora in and around the river channel.


So here I wanted to give a massive "high 5" to Sam Thorn, Jan Stratford and Simon Ogden at Sheffield City Council. They could have taken an easier path and settled for something that was pretty (but superficial). Instead they were bold enough to push forward with the very specialist conservation and biodiversity improvements advice provided by the Wild Trout Trust.

Of course the handsome chunk of funding from the EA was critical, thanks to Jerome Masters (those funds were fed into an intimidatingly complex series of other funding streams that included Interreg North Sea Region, SCC Breathing Spaces/South Yorks. Forest SEEDS project etc. etc.).

Also, thanks to Salix RW Ltd. for the donation of additional (FOC) pre-established, native flora coir pallets and rolls to the Sheffield Trout in the Town group - SPRITE.

If you want to check out the video in full-screen (rather than as embedded above), just click on the picture below and you can jump to view it on Youtube:
 

Porter Brook Deculverting Video picture



26/07/2017 - 20:41
I was recently able to use the Trout in the Town project to provide two days of training in habitat work for the Friends of Bilbrook (find them on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/Bilbrookfriends/ ).


We used some very simple techniques of woody material introduction and stabilisation to help create submerged "cover" habitat for fish (and hopefully the native crayfish that have been recorded in the brook). Some simple tweaks to those techniques also helped to promote more diverse depth over the cross-section of the brook at selected points.

At the same time as creating localised bedscour - the installed material also encourage patches of sediment deposition. The combination of those actions produce a pattern of separation between areas of fine silt and coarser bed material in a patchwork fashion. In this way, a greater variety of micro-habitats are created and this creates many more opportunities for aquatic species. At the same time, it also creates the variety needed for different critical life-cycle stages within individual species such as trout.

Because the materials for the woody material introduction and stabilisation were won by selecting a small number of trees in the river corridor, this also contributed to creating a more varied dappled light and shade regime. In turn this will promote greater opportunities for more varied understory vegetation to develop.

Those opportunities for understory species have only been provided by the excellent works of the Friends of Bilbrook to gain control over the invasive Himalayan Balsam - a big high 5 for that work is well deserved.

Also - huge thanks to Richard Schneider at Groundwork West Midlands who has done masses of work to arrange permissions, co-ordinate volunteers and contractors as well as getting materials and kit on site.

Great effort all round - and thank you for having me :)

Paul
28/04/2017 - 08:53
Ant Graham from SPRITE

You've done a big, ambitious partnership project to deculvert a section of urban stream, but now the civil engineering contractors have gone to their next job. The site is left to mature...what next? Very seldom does this kind of project have any budget for ongoing ecological monitoring (which is a frequent and justified criticism of habitat improvement works - the lack of ecological effect data).

The same can be said for general "husbandry" of the site - whether it be litter or invasive plant control; or even fairly substantial running repairs...

Step in SPRITE (Sheffield Partnership for Rivers in Town Environments) whose site you can check out on http://www.sheffieldsprite.com, the Sheffield Trout in the Town group and a supporting donation of pre-established planted coir products from Salix River and Wetland Ltd. (with their site here: https://www.salixrw.com)

You can see SPRITE talking about their aquatic invertebrate monitoring and see their repair and site care works in action in the embedded video below:


18/04/2017 - 12:39

Although this is the start of what is planned to be a wider project that tackles multiple issues throughout the full length of this heavily-modified river, the first set of works are shaping up really pleasingly. 

Click Picture to Launch on YouTube
Alec and the rest of the YWT team have made impressive progress to organise and deliver the program of works that we designed on just around 1 km of the River Went, on a project supported by the Environment Agency.
 
It was particularly impressive due to a last minute loss of the previous project manager due to a career move. In the video you can see how Alec worked with the WTT to power through the first, steep part of the learning-curve on in-river structural improvements to a heavily-modified river.
 
The main challenges stemmed from the historic realignment of the channel (and general lack of in-stream structure/debris necessary to create vital habitat for different lifecycle stages of fish and other aquatic life). Coupled with the relatively low gradient and fine particulate material/potential associated diffuse-pollution inputs from upstream, this had made the channel very uniform (boring) and also lacking in diverse substrate (bed material).
 
While the future parts of this project will explore ways of improving land-use (and other measures) to reduce the particulate material runoff, the creation of alternating scour and deposition in this section should significantly increase the complexity (and hence value) of the habitat here. There is also, now a massive amount of extra cover from predation - which will help to keep populations of predators and prey in a more resilient balance.
 
The increased complexity (and scour/deposition processes) were complemented by the "seeding" of gravel upstream of some of the new "roughness-generating" structures in the channel. Spate flows redistributing that gravel should mimic the creation of spawning conditions that have been historically cut-off by changes to land-use (open-cast mining has inverted top and sub-soil horizons in the upper catchment!). 
 
Natural gravel inputs have also been constrained by the channel being straightened and locked in place. Normally, the gradual movement of a channel across a floodplain would cut into gravel "lenses" in the banks and continually replenish supplies to species that need gravel to breed.
 
You can see Alec describing this first phase of works in the embedded version of the video here:
 
 
25/11/2016 - 15:21



Catching and Releasing the first Fly-Caught wild trout from a stream that was dug out of a city-centre pipe was probably the highlight of 2016 for me!

Buried in a brick tunnel under England's industrial developments of the 1800s, a section of the Porter Brook in Sheffield was brought back to the surface by a bold project co-ordinated by Sheffield City Council and involving the Wild Trout Trust, The Environment Agency and many more partners.

You can now witness the actual process of freeing the Brook from its pipe - and the creation of functioning trout-stream habitat in this short video.



Yet, the above video does not show the completed park that was a huge part of the entire project - and it does not show the planted vegetation beginning to develop in the summer of 2016. And, it does not show any fly fishing or video of a trout capture...

But the film, below, that was made by the excellent Huckleberry Films as part of the Canal & Rivers Trust "Living Waterways" awards (in which this project won the "Contribution to the Built Environment Award")...Well that DOES show those things too:



Hopefully, with visits from town planning staff from as far away as Bristol, this type of project will become more widespread in our towns and cities in coming years...
 

14/10/2016 - 15:05

Well, the results are in and the fish above were all captured (carefully measured and then returned unharmed to the Lyme Brook)...

All of them were caught clustered around the installed logs and planted flag iris that were introduced throughout the second phase of habitat creation works completed on through the partnership between WTT, Groundwork West Midlands, the EA and The Friends of Lyme Valley Parkway.

The short video below shows the channel transformation - and they ways that the re-shaped river channel is maintained by harnessing the flow of water so that it works with the introduced materials and planted vegetation.

You can also see footage of the very first fish population survey carried out after the habitat works in this section of the brook (and although we didn't see any trout this time, we will continue to work on bridging the gaps between the main River Trent and the potential spawning habitat that has been created in this tributary stream.



 

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