We are only too happy to hear from you, especially if you've got a little time to help out. There are dozens of ways that you can get involved and help us help the fish and in doing so make the river and its environments a better and a healthier place for wildlife and of course you! Whether it's small tasks such as checking sensors, water testing, identifying blockages or problems to more involved tasks such as training to survey the insect life, assist with bank clearances and conservation or maybe you've got some time to help out with admin behind the scenes. Whether you're a student looking for some 'experience' or retired and looking to share your experience, a fisherman, dog walker or have just decided that you want to do something positive. Send us a message and let us know what you might want t help with and we'll get back to you.
We are seeking volunteers to help us in the following ways:
Become a River Watcher
This could be for anyone who regularly takes a walk along the river and would like to contribute through this very important observational role. Take on a section of the river bank or a tributary and after simple observation report to a project officer any unusual occurrences seen alongside or in the river. This could be fallen trees in the river blocking migration, plastic or other rubbish in the river, serious bankside erosion, discolouration of the water or anything out of the ordinary. Through this, the project officers will be able to plan further volunteer activities removing barriers to migration and rubbish. You would be welcome to become involved in any physical activity that follows an observation. All-year-round.
Join a workgroup
Meet up with fellow volunteers to help with planned work in and beside the river. Get involved by helping to remove small trees and trash dams that may be blocking a watercourse. Perhaps some light touch coppicing so as to remove shade that reduces the insect life in the river (remember, it’s the insects that are the food source for the young salmon and many bird species). It is anticipated that volunteers may use hand tools such as bow saws and loppers, provided by the project for some of this work. Sessions could be very short or up to three or four hours. Mainly in the autumn and winter months.
Citizen Science - Riverfly surveying
Currently, there are volunteers who monitor the numbers and species of a range of juvenile insects (the grubs and bugs and creepy crawlies) in the river. Each volunteer surveys between one and three sites, three times per year. The number and variety of species of immature insects in the river is an important indicator of the health of the river and its ability to support life. Again it’s important to stress that it’s the bugs & grubs that are food for young salmon and birds such as dippers and wagtails and mallards.
If a survey reveals a poor result it alerts the project officers and partner agencies to the possibility of a serious problem in the river.
This is a great opportunity to get close up to the bugs & grubs. For someone interested in a career in the environment and conservation, this can be a really good experience to show on a CV.
The project organises this activity with Riverfly.org. In order to be able to identify the different species, it requires volunteers to undertake three or four hours of light “home study”, followed by a short online test followed by a three to four hour practical group session with a qualified tutor in and beside the river. A certificate is awarded! Monitors are given a set of equipment and a suitable agreed upon site. Each set of equipment along with the training represents a significant investment by the project of £130.00 per monitor.
Surveys take place in May, July and September with each survey taking about an hour. The results are sent to our local Riverfly coordinator and then to Riverfly.org for analysis.
We are currently looking for volunteers so that we can double the number of survey sites.
Citizen Science - water quality monitoring
Taking water samples and carrying out some simple measuring of various chemicals such as nitrates and phosphates and measuring pH in the water. Another great opportunity for adults and young people to put something good on their CV.. Could be carried out on its own or alongside a Riverfly survey. The results are fed to our project partner, the Westcountry Rivers Trust, for analysis.
This activity will also require some training.
Data management and recording
We are also looking for help with Geographical Information Systems Mapping and Data recording. It is intended that information received by the Project Officers and Volunteers is recorded and mapped and used for planning volunteer activities. This is technical work enabling connections with locations and data using interactive mapping. For anyone familiar with ArcGIS we have licencing in place with ESRI and a suitable computer. Once our map of the river catchment is populated with historical and current data, which might take some time, we anticipate an hour or so per week entering and interpreting data with the project officers.
This is a new project, we don’t have all the answers. We shall learn as we go. So if anyone has any further ideas as to how we can help restore the numbers of salmon and improving and monitoring the habitat, please do get in touch by filling out the form below.
Thank you very much,
Louise Davis and Geoff Stephens. Joint Project Officers.