Minn’s Meadow was our first real attempt at finding a way of properly fixing the dredged parts of this little chalk-stream. Because dredging is the most fundamental and widespread way in which chalk-streams have been damaged, I’m really interested in what we can do about it.
The problem is, putting gravel back is very expensive … if you import it from off-site.
Here, we have taken the gravel from borrow-pits beside the river and restored long riffles in sync with the meander pattern of the river. The borrow pits were filled back in and have settled into flood-plain hollows that imitate old oxbows and have a nice side-benefit of wetland habitat. There were quite a few snipe hanging around them in the winter.
It was also nice to see that the riffles were used by spawning trout (and sea-trout) within a month of going in. I feel the fact that the gravel was ungraded and from the floodplain beside the river might well have influenced how readily it was adopted by spawning trout.
Here’s a few before, during and after photos. Before we started 80% of the fall in this meadow was lost over the first few yards, whereafter the river became deep and sluggish. Now, we have spaced the fall out over a series of riffles with natural shapes and intervals.
It is great to see patches of ranunculus growing over bright gravel where before there was mostly silt and eel-grass. And there are trout everywhere!