Tag Archives: BEACON

Goodbye…but not quite!

P1040396

So, today is my last day in the paid BEACON Project Officer post. This post has ended due to a lack of funding, something that has troubled the BEACON Project for some time now.

Whilst it has been very sad to be closing down the project, it has been great to go over old files and photos and remember all the fantastic work that has been done as part of this project. Volunteers have been integral to this work and I am hugely grateful for all the input everyone has had over the years, be it with invasive species or diffuse water pollution. There has been over 7,000 volunteer hours contributed during the project lifetime, and over 2,400 volunteers involved ranging from 3 years to 90 years old. Without all your hard work the BEACON Project would not be as well-known and well-regarded as it is today.

BEACON Bollin RDWP Walkover SurveyI will be volunteering one day a week to maintain the project’s presence going as there are options to resume BEACON that will be explored fully in June. So, you can still get hold of me here or email sally.potts@nationaltrust.org.uk

There are also lots of resources now available on this website which may help answer any questions you may have, and local groups are still hosting balsam bashing events too, the details of which can also be found in the events section of the BEACON website here.

Thank you everyone for all you have contributed to caring for our little patch of the Bollin, and I look forward to what the future holds for BEACON.

All the very best.

IMG_1228 

Balsam Bash- BEACON

Balsam bashing is clearing Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant species, by pulling it up by hand.   You can find out more about balsam bashing here.  It’s dead easy to do so anyone can get involved and no experience necessary! Please wear suitable outdoor clothing and bring some gloves with you, water and suncreen if required.  Book onto the event using the contact details below.

Volunteer Thank You Event – 22nd Jauary 2015

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Event

A Volunteer Thank You Event was held at Mathall Hall, Chelford in January to thank all the BEACON volunteers for their hard work and support over the year.  This is the second Thank You Event that BEACON has held, and was as succeesful and well-received as the first.

Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer, gave a presentation about the work that BEACON has done over the past year, and the achievements of its staff and volunteers.  This presentation was interspersed by four volunteers from KRIV, Avro Golf Club, Birkin Fly Fishers and the designer of this very website (thanks Ade 🙂 )  who gave their account of how they got involved with BEACON over the past year, and what they do to support the project.

BEACON Volunter Thank You Event Presentation

There were displays in the hall showing statistics of how many km of balsam pulled, how many volunteer hours contributed etc, and large maps of the catchment for people to view.  It was good to be able to see these statistics in a graphical way, as it really illustrates the impact BEACON has had over the year.

There were 25 volunteers that attended the evening with a good mixture of partner organisations and volunteers amongst the attendees.

 

 

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards- golden spoons

There was also a light-hearted awards section at the end of the evening where golden spoons were presented to organisations for categories such as the ‘Best Sprayer’ or ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’. These awards were well received.

 

 

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards- Avro Golf Club

Vic Tarr accepting Avro Golf Club’s awards for ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’ held on July 19th…the earlier post and photos about this bash speak for themselves!

BEACON Volunteer Thank You Awards - Best Dressed

Rosie Fisher accepting her award for ‘Best Dressed’ for working all day in full protective gear during one of the hottest days of the summer when decapitating Giant Hogweed

No formal feedback was received via the feedback cards, but the following are excerpts from emails sent after the Thank You Event:

 

 

 

 

 

‘Thank you for last night, it was great to see other aspects of Beacon’s work’

‘Well done for everything last night – the format of how you talk interspersed with others talking is really good!’

‘What a brilliant meeting that was yesterday.  The way you interspersed your talk with the pieces from the volunteers was so good……. and the golden spoons with their pictures are a lovely idea.’

‘Well done for your event last week – I thought the presentations were fascinating; and was as always impressed with your organisation and promotion of the event.’

And it is just down to BEACON to say thank you to all our volunteers for your help and support over the last year, and may it continue for 2015.  We really couldn’t do it without you!

Thank You Awards - Best Basher

Jaya with her award for ‘Best Balsam Basher’. She bashed balsam all day at age 3, on the bash that was awarded the ‘Wettest Balsam Bash’!

 

Volunteer Surveyors Workshop – 11th December 2014

RDWP Training Attendees PhotoAs you may already know, BEACON has been granted Catchment Wise funding to support a project that focuses on the water quality of Birkin, Mobberley, Marthall and Sugar Brooks, in the western end of the Bollin catchment.   As part of this project, BEACON volunteers will carry out walkover surveys along the corridors of these brooks, to try and find out what the major causes of rural diffuse pollution are here.

Three training events have been held since the project started in October. One was held on Halloween to train volunteers to carry out walkover surveys and record incidents of diffuse pollution (you can read more about this training below). The training was recently repeated on 11th December and run by Sally Potts, BEACON Project Officer. The day was less than kind, being cold and very wet, and so everyone was glad of the morning indoor session. Here volunteers learned about what diffuse pollution is, what causes it and the techniques used during a walkover to identify and record it. After a wonderful lunch, locally produced by Earlams Café in Styal, all the volunteers went to the Carrs in Wilmslow to put their new found walkover and recording skills to the test.

The Carrs Riverside Nine volunteers attended and practised their survey skills along the River Bollin. Everyone found the training informative and useful. One volunteer commented on Facebook: ‘It was a great day and an excellent presentation by you Sally. Thanks for hosting it’. A short refresher training session is being held in Bowdon for all volunteers in the New Year.

BEACON has now trained 27 volunteers carry out these walkover surveys, and so we are expecting results to start being submitted in the next few months.

For more information or to get involved in this survey project please contact Sally Potts, Project Officer, on 07825 115 303 or sally.potts@nationaltrust.org.uk

Catchment Walkover Tool

Walkover Tool Training

On 26th November a training session was held as part of BEACON’s Catchment Wise Diffuse Water Pollution Project.  This session was run by the Environment Agency to train volunteers on how to digitise the data we will be collecting from the walkover surveys being carried out along Mobberley, Birkin and Sugar Brooks. 

The Environment Agency use a database called the Catchment Walkover Tool to collect walkover survey data in a standardised format, and then this database is used to create interactive maps and educational resources to illustrate the survey results. 

The volunteers really enjoyed the day, and we all learned some new IT skills as well as more about data input and sharing.  We just need to make sure we hire a warmer venue next time!

This Diffuse Water Pollution Project is not just a data collection exercise, as BEACON wants to achieve much more than this.  By the end of the year we will have trained approximatley 30 volunteers to input data and survey for Diffuse Water Pollution, providing these volunteers with skills and knowledge in areas of ecology, water quality, IT and science that they did not have before. 

We will also be using maps made from the Walkover Tool to educate and engage people on their land management practises and signpost them to other places where they can get help, advice and even funding. 

The next training session being held as part of this project is shown on the events page.  If you would like to get involved please contact us using this form.

Friends of the Carrs

The Carrs Riverside

The Friends of the Carrs are a very busy and active group, caring for the River Bollin and Parkland in Wilmslow that provides a haven for peace and recreation in the heart of the town.

The Friends of the Carrs have recently produced their Autumn newsletter, which gives updates on things that have happened on the Carrs in previous months, and events and activities that the group have planned for the future.  To read this newsletter you can download it here: Carrs newsletter Autumn 2014.

As the Friends of the Carrs manage a long stretch of the River Bollin, they also have to control invasive species and as such are active members of BEACON, and hold community balsam bashes every year.  

For more information about the Friends of the Carrs and how to join this group, please visit their website here. Or follow them on Twitter here

Farm Workshop – 1st October 2014

BEACON and Natural England Farm Workshop

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

Last week, BEACON and Natural England got together to host a Farm Workshop at Egerton Hall, Rostherne.  This workshop aimed to provide farmers with more information on the control of invasive non-native species, as well as water friendly farming and agri-environment schemes.  There were elements of indoor presentations and outdoor practical field visits and demonstrations held adjacent to Rostherne Mere.

Farm Workshop Rostherne

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

In the morning, the attendees went out to Rostherne Mere to look at practical demonstrations of how to control invasive species.  The group discussed how each control method works, and also non-chemical ways to control invasive non-native species.  Rupert, the Ranger at Rostherne Mere demonstrated their quad mounted spraying equipment, and Sally from BEACON showed the group how the stem injector works. 

Farm Workshop - Stem Injector

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

 

Farm Workshop - Quad mounted sprayer

© Andy Penton – Environment Agency

Following lunch a short presentation was given to farmers on the effects of pollution on rivers and the different sources it can come from.  Everyone was very surprised about the polluting effects of milk!  There was lots of discussion and advice given on how to make sure your farm is working in a water friendly way.

There was another outdoor session in the afternoon to visit the areas of Rostherne Mere that aren’t publically accessible.  It was great to be able to go to places that are ordinarily closed, and Rupert gave a fantastic talk on what the issues are with managing the Mere and how he addresses these.  Himalayan balsam in the reed beds was a great cause for discussion.

Farm Workshop - Field Visit

In the feedback we got from the farmers they all enjoyed the day.  They found it useful to have different organisations there and see practical demonstrations given.  Everyone felt they had learned something they could apply to their work at home, which is a hugely positive outcome for BEACON, Natural England and most importantly the natural environment.

Avro Golf Club Balsam Bash – 19th July 2014

Balsam Bashing Avro Golf Club Woodford

A group of 18 volunteers met up at Avro Golf Club, in Woodford, on a very wet and overcast morning last Saturday.

We met at the Club House and went over the plan for the day before heading out.  The plan was to control as much Himalayan Balsam as we possibly could in a woodland that borders the golf club, and is causing problems for the green keepers and players as the spreads its seeds onto the course.  There really is no shortage of the stuff round here with the balsam over 8′ tall in some places!

Not to be deterred by the bad weather the group got stuck in after a short walk along the river to get to the woodland. 

Balsam Bashing Avro Golf Club Woodford 6

 

Balsam Bashing Avro Golf Club Woodford With both BEACON volunteers and golf club staff and members getting involved we were able to make a great dent in the balsam that we found in the woodland.  Some volunteers concentrated on creating a ‘fire break’; clearing the balsam on the borders between the woodland and the gold course, and thus stopping the spread onto the golf greens.

Everyone was really ethusiastic despite the terrible rain that soaked everyone, and the volunteers ranged in age from 3 to 86! 

Balsam Bashing Avro Golf Club Woodford 3

 

 

 

 

Balsam Bashing Avro Golf Club Woodford 2Everyone was made to feel welcome by the golf club, and both lots of volunteers (young and old), got on like a house on fire by the end of the day.

 

 

After a thorough soaking we were all really grateful for the tea, sandwiches and cake provided by the golf club, and some of the men enjoyed a pint from the bar!

We will repeat this event next year (hoping for some sunshine next time), so keep lookng out on the BEACON events pages for more information.