clearing the way

Over the last couple of months, project officers have been out and about with volunteers clearing away barriers to migration caused by brash and fallen timber. We call these dams “blockers”. Blockers and potential blockers were found on the Whitewater stream, the Blackaton Brook, the Weeke Brook and the Wrey Brook, and have been removed by volunteers from Lustleigh and Chagford, using bowsaws, loppers, garden forks, secateurs, ropes and elbow grease! One volunteer kindly brought his quadbike and trailer to a clearing session and the quad was used to haul large timber from the Wrey Brook.

The Whitewater stream after a blocker removal

Why are we doing this? It’s generally understood that the main downstream migration of smolts occurs in April/May/early June, and it’s important that they can travel unimpeded by barriers. This becomes even more important at times of low flows (as currently experienced) when there is insufficient height of water to enable smolts to pass freely over the blockers.

A further benefit that can be seen after removing blockers is that the subsequent good flow of water helps
to dislodge silt and sand that has built up through lack of flow. We have seen some very nice gravels
emerging that adult salmon will hopefully use to spawn in this coming autumn and winter.
More blockers have been identified in the middle reaches of the Bovey and two of these are earmarked for
attention. Another has been identified on the Beadon Brook and is currently being assessed for work. Two
blockers on the upper South Teign are also targetted for removal.

We have been very careful not to disturb any natural debris which is in river but not blocking it, this is a natural part of a healthy river system and provides many benefits for water and wildlife.

A big thank you to our volunteers for letting us know about blockers they spot, and for their hard work in helping to remove them. It’s very likely that there are more blockers on the Teign and tributaries that we’re not aware of, so please let us know if you spot any.