The first stages of the project work to improve the river and riparian habitats along Eastburn Beck at Lyndhurst Wood, Glusburn (reported here in February) began on Wednesday 10th August. The Wild Trout Trust and the Environment Agency will be notching six of the low weirs by cutting narrow sections out of each weir crest.
The environmental benefits are numerous. These man-made obstructions are a barrier to free fish movement in both directions, and to the free transport of bed materials downstream. They also alter and constrain the physical shape of the channel, so by removing parts of these barriers, the river can once again run a more natural course. Flood risk will be reduced.
Fish such as the brown trout, which was recently voted the nation’s favourite fish (announced on BBC Springwatch), and especially the smaller individuals, will find it much easier for example to return upstream if they are displaced downstream during floods. As more and more weirs along the whole of the River Aire system are removed or made passable for fish, it is a real possibility that migratory species like salmon and sea trout may return to spawn in tributaries like Eastburn Beck.
But it is not all about fish. By restoring the river to a more natural series of pools and riffles, the insects will also flourish which in turn feed many of the characteristic bird species such as dipper and grey wagtails that walkers in Lyndhurst Wood like to see.
Jonathan Grey, Research & Conservation Officer with the Wild Trout Trust wrote an article with further details, here.