Search

Blue Ribbon Umgeni

#BRU Restoring the Umgeni as a trout stream

Tag

conservation

Follow up at Big Rock

In early December we were back at the river near “Big Rock”, and that little footbridge over the Furth Stream.  The bridge was fitted with a piece that stabilises the cable handrails, sandwiches the poles together, and provides a point to secure the fittings with a chain so that we don’t lose them in a flood one day.

We also visited the area that was cleared of brambles with brushcutters by Breandan Mc Kibbin and team at our “big rock day”, and started the process of spraying the regrowth, now that we can get in there and pick them off stem by stem. What a pleasure to be able to walk around now that the high bramble is gone…..thank you Breandan!

IMG_20191206_115423IMG_20191206_143649IMG_20191206_143746

Our chemicals were supplied by the DEA , and labour, transport and spray equipment by the Natal Fly Fishers Club.

The fruits of our labours

This is what we are working towards:  Well grassed banks, clear of wattles, as per the pool in the foreground of this picture. This is how the river looked before acacia mearnsii invaded. This pool was cleared and the banks re-grassed in 2016. Umgeni River-63

Grass

With summer rains upon us, it is clear that we urgently need to sow grass seed on areas left bare by the clearing activities of all parties.  The after effects of storms are clearly evident out in the open veld below bare patches, and in the streambeds  and in little tributaries and gulches……topsoil is shifting!  This is true of the Furth Stream area, as well as Stoneycroft, and we would do well to check smaller patches on Furth farm too.

The WWF have helped with literature on which species to use. The NFFC has bought some grass seed. The contractor on the Furth stream has done his best to lay branches across the slope (in line with the contour).

Furth Oct 25 2017-4

Stoneycroft-27

 

Now we need helpers with metal rakes and a spare morning.  How about it?

Volunteers can contact Andrew on 082 57 44 262 or mail chairman@nffc.co.za

Stoneycroft

From the 7th to the 10th November, NFFC appointed contractor “Dons Tree Felling” worked together with hired labour and volunteers to clear another stretch of the Umgeni. Two TLB’s, and a tractor were used to pull old and fresh logs from the river. All streamside wattles were felled and removed, and the vast majority of logs were removed.

Stoneycroft-22

 

Stoneycroft-44

The stream banks still need to be cleared of brambles, but it would be true to say that the riverine landscape over just short of a kilometer has been restored to that of open grassland, and is looking great.  This brings the project to 8.5Kms of river cleared.

Stoneycroft-15

Thanks to The NFFC for funding the work from the Roy Ward Fund (in excess of R40,000), to Russell Watson and Irritech for machines, to Howard Long for chains, Dave Prentice and Dries Ellis from the NFFC and to Don Stirling of Dons Tree fellers. And a big thank you to the 20 or so men who performed this back breaking work.

Follow up no 1

Having felled a great many wattles, the ground is now open to the sunlight along stretches of the Umgeni that were previously shaded. The sunlight (as well as fire), prompt the germination of seeds.

Unfortunately this continues for a proven 50 years after the trees are gone!  Yes FIFTY!

So regular follow ups to remove saplings is essential.

The Natal Fly Fishers Club, has employed DUCT to facilitate and manage a team of river workers , who are part of a Government “expanded Public Works Programme”. The NFFC accepted DUCT’s quote for the management, and the team has been working all of this week (Sept 11 to 15, 2017) and will work into next week to get the work done.

They are felling and poisoning all saplings and ring barking any trees that we may have missed in #BRU1. They are doing this in a 60 metre wide band down the valley (30m either side of the stream), over a length of 7.5Kms.

 

Dargle Local Living

Dargle Local living covered our walk along the Umgeni that happened on the morning of our fundraising dinner on May 7th 2017.  Nikki Brighton covers the walk and the background HERE

The Furth Stream

The Worlwide Fund for Nature, with donations from Nedbank and others, has taken responsibility for clearing two tributaries of the Upper Umgeni, namely the Poort Stream, and the Furth Stream. After the initial clearing in earlier years, WWF commenced with follow up work in mid 2017.

Following relocation of the WWF project manager to Cape Town, the Natal Fly Fishers Club (NFFC) has stepped in and volunteered to project manage the work on a day to day basis.  Contractor Jabulani is doing a great job,  and as at date of this, over a kilometre of the Furth stream is again flowing in sunshine, between banks that should cover with grass in the spring.

Furth 25 Aug 2017-7

Follow up work will continue throughout 2018. Thereafter the baton is handed to the farm owner to keep up the good work, in terms of the WWF stewardship program.

Why stiles?

We believe that part of keeping the upper Umgeni a pristine environment, is to make it a treasured place to many people. That way people will visit, and pull out the odd wattle for example. For it to be treasured, people should visit it often. And to visit it often, they need to enjoy being there.

Fly-fishermen enjoy their day more if the don’t have to deal with alien invasive bramble, and if they don’t have difficult fences to clamber through.

So bramble gets sprayed, and we put up these fence stiles for those hiking the river banks:

stlies-1-of-4

Lucky Mthalane and Zithulele Zuma putting up a fence stile. They were part of the team that cleared logs from the pool in the background earlier in the year.  

Blue what?

A number of people have asked what the term “Blue Ribbon” is all about. Some have even misquoted it as “Blue River”….even in print.

The term “Blue Ribbon Fishery” is one used extensively by government and other organisations in the United States, and was coined as early as the 1970’s. By the early 1990’s publications were regularly referring to the term, and there are now many books bearing the term in their titles or subtitles.

Wikipedia defines Blue Ribbon water as follows:

Continue reading “Blue what?”

It is done

Well….largely done….

Before:

before-a

After:

after-a


Before:

before-b

after-b

With thanks to :

  • Don’s Tree Fellers
  • Russell Watson
  • DUCT
  • Alfred Zuma & team
  • Roy Ward
  • Anton Smith
  • Howard Long
  • Murray Hibbs
  • Irritech

Polishing it off

This is the last piece of river on Furth/Rathmines farm that needs heavy pulling power to rid the river bank of heavy wattle infestation:

last bit

At top right of the picture you can see the brush piles from work undertaken in 2015.Above that the purple arrow denotes where there is a crossing. We can get tractors across there (this is the ONLY access), and get to the northern river banks, and work where the yellow lines run. We think we can also fell the trees on the very steep southern banks denoted in red, and drag them across onto the northern side.

By way of scale:  the red lines are 155 metres and  180 metres in length respectively. The yellow lines total about 650 metres. We estimate that this will take 3 days work, with a TLB and tractor, 8 chainsaws, and about 15 labourers. The TLB and tractors have been offered with fuel and drivers by the landowner. Much of the labour will be supplied by the owners of the north bank (Ross Poultry Breeders), and helpers have been offered by DUCT. The cost of the chainsaw gang for 3 days is R24,000.. We are checking with the donors…we might JUST have enough to do it.

After this the remaining trees will be within the capability of the odd volunteer day here and there, and can be incorporated into the yearly ongoing maintenance hereon out.

One nagging small patch just off the picture (top left) where we cant get a tractor either side of the river……but we can do this one tree at a time.

So there we go…this is all that is left to break the back of it!

The NFFC is not new to this.

Did you know, that the Natal Fly Fishers Club (NFFC) was busy working on the Umgeni as far back as 1974!

Inspiration from the USA

Several fly-fishing articles have appeared in recent months and years in the online media about flyfishing for Trout in the Driftless area of the USA, such as this one in a publication called “a Tight Loop”. [Lost in Wisconsin, Pg 112]

If you have a look at these and other pictures, you will see that the landcape looks remarkably like that of the Umgeni and other KZN meadow streams, like the middle Mooi River.

Josh Glovinsky Driftless article
Photo from “A Tight Loop”, from the article by Josh Glovinsky

Spurred by these similarities, our attention has been drawn to that area’s own stream restoration and conservation efforts, spearheaded by Trout Unlimited in the USA. In fact TU has a conglomeration of chapters and projects described more fully as TU DARE (Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort)

Read HERE about what they are doing. We hope this will inspire the reader to see the vision for the Umgeni, and some of the background, bigger picture and holistic outlook for #BRU.

Anton & Alison

Anton and Alison Smith have undertaken to match the contribution from the sale of the book “Stippled Beauties” on a ‘Rand for Rand’ basis. In other words, for every Rand raised from the proceeds of the limited 1st edition book, they will contribute a further Rand !

All the money will go directly into the hiring of tree felling contractors to clear the upper Umgeni 0n Furth farm.

Anton & Alison

What a fantastic commitment!

NFFC work parties:

Video:

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑