We have been working with the Wild Trout Trust in a few locations to improve the habitat for fish by adding large woody debris to the river channel. The intention is to try and mimic or create the natural river ecology with variations in the flow rates, depths, and areas of deposition.
A river may look like a nice pleasant environment to people. But when we consider the modifications that have occurred up and down the water course it has a negative effect on fish populations. The reasons a course of a River can be altered maybe due to construction of a road, allow buildings, increase yield for agriculture, and to harness the power of the river
Otterburn Beck is a terrific location and one of the original Upper Aire Project sites. However, the beck has been straightened to accommodate a road. There are also signs of an older river channel about 15m to the left which may have been blocked to increase the size of the field. Recently trees had been planted and willow spiling to reduce bank erosion a little downstream. During our visit we did not see a trout as we would expect. A seriously depleted natural habitat.
To rectify this several Sycamore trees were harvested. They are growing in the road retaining wall and had previously been cut and now growing multi stemmed from the trunk.
Once the tree is cut the stem is anchored allowing the crown to be in the river. The effect will be to slightly alter the flow of the river and increase this area of deposition to enhance the slight meander we can see in the photo. The foliage will also provide shade for the river creatures which are also lacking in this section of river. These changes will provide more habitat potential for fish than previous. The phrase every little helps comes to mind.