Save The Ribble

A blog dedicated to preserving the beauty and delicate ecosystem of the River Ribble, and opposing the Riverworks 'vision' to build a barrage on our River and develop on our riverbanks, floodplains and green spaces, causing damage to wildlife and the environment and increasing the risk of flooding to our homes. Save the Ribble Campaign is not responsible for the content of external blogs or websites which link here.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ribble Clean Up Success

Local residents, with help from the Action Ribble Estuary tributary of the Mersey Basin Campaign, plus South Ribble Borough Council, and Lancashire County Council, spent a very fruitful Friday litter picking and Balsam bashing by the Ribble in Penwortham and Broadgate.



After organising ourselves on the carpark on Margaret Road, 20 local residents, with help from local children from St. Stephens Primary School in Broadgate and Middleforth Primary School in Penwortham, kitted ourselves out with protective gloves and grabber sticks (kindly provided by Action Ribble Estuary) and got cracking!


We litter-picked along the riverbank in Penwortham, and over the wall along the bank in Broadgate...


...reaching what we could safely get to without actually getting wet.

Unfortunately, at the last minute, the Environment Agency were unable to come along to help us to remove the assorted junk off the mudflats with their grappling gear and winches, but with the help of Lesley from Action Ribble Estuary and Phil and Paul from the South Ribble Borough Council "Hit Squad", we got the junk off the mudflats that we could reach safely...






...and had quite an impressive pile of rubbish by the end of the afternoon, including a motorbike, a wheelbarrow, an office chair, and several car wheels and tires amongst the biggest items, with a large number of rubbish bags of more ordinary litter too, filling up the back of Phil and Paul's truck.



This was a fantastic haul, but the riverbank was suffering a more immediately dangerous problem which we also tackled with lots of hard work and determination...

Himalayan Balsam!


Himalayan Balsam is not a native plant but a garden import gone mad! On its own it is quite an attractive plant, growing anything between 1 and 3 metres tall and producing an abundance of pretty pink-mauve "snap-dragon" type flowers from mid-summer onwards, so it's easy to see why it was imported... but each plant also produces eight hundred easily-germinating seeds which literally explode out of the ripe seed pods and rapidly spread and swamp everything in their path...



...which means that native plant species and therefore the biodiversity of the riverbanks, where this invader spreads so rapidly, are seriously under threat...


...the diverse riverbank vegetation is crowded out by the Balsam...


...including the reedbeds...

...so we get cracking, pulling out the Balsam carefully so the native plant species are not disturbed...


...trampling it underfoot...


...pulling out mountains of the stuff...



...which has to remain on-site to rot down naturally. It CAN'T be removed from site as it might then spread elsewhere... just one seed would lead to thousands of plants within a couple of years. Uprooting just one plant will prevent 800 more next year, and 640,000 plants the following year!!

Himalayan Balsam, as an alien species, is just one of many threats to the health of our river...

Before we got cracking, the Balsam had swamped the Reedbeds near the railway bridge so that the reeds themselves could barely be seen...


...submerged in a sea of Balsam...

and after...

...the Ribble's reedbeds emerge...



... to breathe again!



The biodiversity of the riverbank is an irreplaceable wildlife corridor for countless plant, insect, and animal species...



...we met a large number of frogs, a wide range of insects - including the most amazing variety of beetles - with bees and butterflies and dragonflies also thriving here and not seeming to mind us rumaging in the undergrowth, plus moles, and someone very, very small and brown and furry scurrying away who will have been either a shrew or a field mouse but was too quick to identify!



The huge variety of riverbank plants are easier to spot as they emerged from the Balsam-cleared banks...



...from beautiful Buttercups...



...to Cow Parsley...




... to a huge range of different grasses, which grow here on the banks as well as in the meadows alongside...



...to Tufted Vetch.


The Ribble's biodiversity is a fantastic sight as well as a fabulous habitat for all that wildlife...



...and a large number of local residents pass by, many stopping for a chat, as we give a little something back to the River Ribble we love so well...




A HUGE THANK YOU to all of you who came to help the Ribble Spring Clean, with special thanks to Lesley of Action Ribble Estuary and Mersey Basin Campaign for co-ordinating the various parties involved as well as bringing bags and grabbers and gloves, to Terry of Lancashire County Counil's Environmental Services for bringing his van and trailer, and to Phil and Paul of South Ribble BC's "Hit Squad"...

...and extra special thanks to Barbara, Gerry, Aidan, Marion, Juliet, Ben and Jim, Danka, Hattie and Rachel, Chris, Sue, Isabel, Fiona, Tony, St. Stephens and Middleforth Primary Schools, and everyone else who came and helped Spring Clean the Ribble!

We have other exciting Ribble Events coming up this summer - including a Ribble Runner in the Run Preston event on Sunday 8th July, and an extra special Brockholes Walk as part of the Ribble Coast & Wetlands Walking Festival on 4th August - so come along and spend a fabulous day on the riverbank!

And don't forget to vote for Church Woods in the BBC Radio Lancashire - BBC Breathing Spaces "Weed it and Reap" Grot-Spot clean up! Voting closes Tuesday!

savetheribble@tiscali.co.uk

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