Volunteers Muck In To Impress the Chess
Members of the Impress the Chess group and volunteers from the Chesham Environmental Group teamed up for an autumnal tidy up of a neglected stretch of the River Chess.
Volunteers tackle overgrown vegetation - copyright Allen Beechey, Chilterns Chalk Streams Project
Feedback from the public had alerted Impress the Chess to the poor condition of the stretch of the river that runs along Holloway Lane in the vicinity of the Latimer Road Household Waste site. This stretch of the river had become very overgrown and shaded by bank-side trees and has suffered from a lot of fly-tipping.
Led by the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project Officer, Allen Beechey, the volunteers cleared out a huge amount of rubbish from the river, including tyres, bits of bikes, plastic bags and bricks; all of which was then disposed of by Chesham Town Council’s Parks and Premises team. The volunteers then turned their attentions to the overgrown vegetation, working from within the channel to remove a lot of the lower branches to raise the tree canopy and let more light in.
Some of the rubbish taken from the river - copyright Allen Beechey, Chilterns Chalk Streams Project
Not only will this work make the river look more attractive, but the improved light levels will allow in-stream plants, like stream water crowfoot, to grow. This in turn will help to engineer the river naturally, so that it flows more quickly and clears silt from the river bed to provide the clean gravels needed by brown trout to spawn. Trout have been seen in this stretch of the Chess, so it is hoped that the tidy-up will help them to have a successful breeding season this winter.
Town Councillor Colette Littley, who organised the clear up, said, “This is a marvellous example of the Town Council and volunteers with a passion for their town pulling together to get a job done. It was also great fun!”
The River Chess is a chalk stream, which is a globally rare habitat that supports a diverse array of wildlife, including water voles, kingfishers, damselflies and much more. However, the river is subject to many man-made stresses, including over-abstraction for drinking water supply, pollution and habitat destruction. For this reason, the Impress the Chess group was set up by Chesham Town Council and the Chilterns Chalk Streams Project, to protect the river both by lobbying on river-related issues and by carrying out practical work on the ground.
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Published: 28 September 2010