Project SHRIMP Kicks off on Saturday at Sherston Boules day

8 Jul

One of the key goals of the WildSherston event last May was to create a project to improve our local natural environment. One of the organisations that attended WildSherston was the Bristol and Avon River Trust (BART). BART is a community-led organisation, which aims to deliver education, land and river based management advice and practical river restoration work across the Bristol Avon Catchment. You can find out more about them on their website – www.bristolavonriverstrust.org.  They are only a small charity but they have already successfully completed several habitat enhancement and river restoration projects and are really keen to encourage people to develop a sense of ownership of our waterways by working with communities on stretches of their local rivers.

Over the past few months we have been in discussion with BART about project(s) to improve our part of the Avon together with some local landowners. You may remember Harriet Alvis who used to live in the village who is now the Project Officer for BART. Harriet is a biologist first inspired to work on rivers by seeing the Environment Agency sampling down at Forlorn, and is excited to be part of a project to improve the river in the village!

The SHRIMP project (SHerston River IMProvement) will work with local volunteers with the aim of improving a popular section of river close to the village, running at the foot of Grove Wood and will also be creating a wildflower meadow. We are able to do this thanks to grants from Wessex Water, the People’s Postcode Lottery, money raised from the WidSherston event last year and the local farmers.

 The river already supports small population of fish such as brown trout and bullhead. However, low flows, particularly during the Summer, are insufficient to deal with sediment deposited after the higher flows after heavy rainfall. This sediment has resulted in gravels being smothered, conditions detrimental to spawning trout and habitat for invertebrates.

The project will succeed if local people want to help restore the river banks and help make improvements to the river for the benefit of people and wildlife. We have already seen evidence of otters, kingfishers and water voles in the area and the work will help secure their future. (It was Harriet who first spotted the Otter Spraint which prompted us to put camera’s in the river)

We will be at the Boules Festival talking about our project as well as trying to raise some funds and hoping to find people who wish to sponsor their own wildflower plug patch which will help create a community wildflower meadow. You can donate on the day or through our website (www.bristolavonriverstrust.org) if this is easier.

SHRIMP will need a number of volunteers to complete both the in-stream river improvements and the wildflower meadow. If you are interested in volunteering with this project, please email harriet@bristolavonriverstrust.org  or Geoff Carss at geoff_carss@hotmail.com – No experience needed, just enthusiasm and a basic level of fitness! Similarly, if you have any questions about this project, feel free to drop us a line.

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