Since late 2011, the Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) has run a project enabling local volunteers from across Galloway to assist and learn from the work carried out by GFT across local rivers and lochs.
The scheme, called the Galloway Fisheries Volunteer Scheme (GFVS), is supported by SNH, Solway Heritage, Robertson Trust and South West Environmental Action Trust.
Volunteer days cover a wide range of interesting activities including habitat enhancement and data collection. Works include bankside native tree planting, removing blockages to help fish migration, cutting back heavily overshading trees, rock placement in previously dredged burns and learning about fish surveys.
The scheme was set up due to strong interest from anglers, land owners, conservationists and youth organisations to get involved in work to protect and improve local freshwaters. This scheme covers all local rivers in the west side of the region between Stranraer and Dalbeattie.
Recently an ongoing project on the Barhoise Burn, River Bladnoch near Kirkcowan has seen local volunteers carrying out bankside and instream tasks. This work included bankside gorse bush removal to allow more light into the burn. The burn had previously been overgrown from bank to bank creating a tunnel effect. It is important to allow the correct amount of light into a watercourse to allow instream vegetation to grow and sustain a healthy fishery. Instream rock placement was also carried out to create parr habitat. By adding small rocks to the previously dredged areas of the burn, fish will have areas to live within. These rocks also break the surface of the water and produce runs and small pools. More recently bankside fencing and watergate building was carried out on some areas of the bank to exclude livestock from the water.
The Barhoise Burn is an important salmon and trout spawning burn on the River Bladnoch, and all this work is improving and protecting the spawning and nursery areas.
Other volunteer days carried out in Galloway include bankside management work on the Water of Fleet, working with Stranraer and District Angling Association on the Innermessan Burn by Stranraer, electrofishing demonstrations across the river catchments, controlling the invasive Himalayan Balsam on the River Cree and Water of Fleet, and the removal of natural seeded sitka spruce on the Dam Burn on the River Urr catchment.
A wide range of volunteer days are being organised for the forthcoming months across Galloway.
Anyone interested to get involved as a volunteer or if you have a project idea which you think the volunteer team could help with then contact GFVS Project Officer Neil Dalrymple at Galloway Fisheries Trust on 01671 403011 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the GFT, please visit the team’s website and follow the regular news section at www.gallowayfisheriestrust.org.