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Blue Ribbon Umgeni

#BRU Restoring the Umgeni as a trout stream

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environment

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!

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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

Germination trial

#BRU

Petro Fowler sowing a mix of eragrostic curvula and eragrostis teff on ground left bare after clearing and burning.  Two academic papers supplied by WWF have somewhat contradictory reports on germination success of e curvula. Both seem to say e teff will germinate. Previous trials on the bank of the Umgeni itself showed disappointing germination.  7 Kg of mixed seed was sowed on Saturday 18th November on a section of the Furth stream valley, and was raked in deeper than the previous trail.  We will wait and see how it goes.

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

 

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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.

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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.

An invitation

On  the morning of Saturday 6th May 2017, a guided, 7 km  morning walk will be held along the banks of the upper Umgeni River.

All are welcome:  No charge

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This is a casual stroll, suitable for kids, partners, fishermen and conservationists alike. It aims to showcase and celebrate what has been achieved to date, and highlight future plans for stream restoration, but above all it is intended as a pleasant morning hike in beautiful countryside.

The walk is to be guided by Andrew Fowler who says:

 

Invitation

All you need to bring is a hat, reasonable walking shoes, and a water bottle. A camera and binoculars may prove useful.

You can leave your car at Il Postino, and jump in with someone else, or drive up in convoy to Brigadoon farm (+-16 kms from Il Postino). There we can leave cars parked at the dairy, and will be dropped off in a 4 X 4 at the lower boundary, to walk upriver, to be collected again at the end of the walk and brought back on the back of the 4 X 4 to our cars.

Each participant will receive a booklet about the upper Umgeni, with details about its history, fishing, birdlife etc. Along the walk, milestones, wattle clearing projects, good fishing spots and the like will be pointed out.

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Head back to Il Postino afterwards for a pizza lunch and craft beer.

Il Postino is along the Dargle Road, just 4.8kms from Piggy Wiggly on the midlands meander.  Accurate directions : click this blue link HERE

Questions?  Phone Andrew on 082 57 44 262 or email chairman@nffc.co.za

For planning purposes, please drop Andrew an sms/Whatsapp or e-mail to advise if you plan to join in, but even if you have not, you are still welcome on the day.

Quick details:

Where: Il Postino Pizzeria, Impendle Road, lower Dargle, and on to Brigadoon, 16kms further up the road

When:  gather at 8:00 am, leave for Brigadoon at 8:30 am on Saturday 6th May 2017

Bring: Walking shoes, hat, water bottle, Binos, camera

Suitable for: Fishermen, birders, hikers, families, kids (say over 6yrs of age)

Cost:  Nil

 

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