Busy Buzzy Bee

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).