SOMERSET volunteers from The Inland Waterways Association’s West Country Branch Members recently led a local community groups litter pick for wildlife at French Weir Park in Taunton, as part of a Celebration of the River Tone, a week of exciting, nature-based family activities organised by Somerset Wildlife Trust.
This occasion marked an additional celebration, as it was IWA West Country Branch’s 100th work party since May 1, 2016. A tremendous achievement for all involved.
The Branch holds regular weekly work parties on the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, leading and assisting with work parties such as this in the local area. Overall an impressive 3121 volunteer hours have been worked since May 1 2016, by over 100 hardworking, enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers registered with the branch.
Led by volunteer co-ordinator Mike Slade, much has been achieved in maintaining and significantly improving the areas in and around the canal, for waterway users and visitors to enjoy. Regular work parties at Bridgwater Docks focus on tasks such as litter picking and rubbish removal, towpath and footpath vegetation trimming, painting of railings and mooring rings, trimming of overhanging branches, removal of vegetation from the dock basin walls and graffiti removal.
At Taunton some of the tasks undertaken by volunteer teams include carrying out litter picking and rubbish removal, vegetation tidying of the lock areas and car park, painting railings at French Weir and graffiti removal. In addition volunteers are involved with bulb planting, litter picking along the River Parrett and supporting events and other local community groups work parties, such as the Litter Pick for Wildlife.
At the litter pick, an exceptional turnout of 35 adults plus eight accompanied children from areas around Longrun and French Weir, IWA and Tesco Stores, volunteered to carry out an intensive litter pick along the River Tone footpath. Work was undertaken at French Weir, Longrun Meadow, down the riverbank towards Goodlands Gardens, and round the leats near Tesco.
Eighteen sacks of litter were collected over the course of the afternoon and the effect of the removal of this amount of litter from the area bodes well for local wildlife. Those taking part may have been rewarded for their effort by seeing a kingfisher, or maybe an otter, as two sightings have been seen in the area since the New Year.
Following this successful event, ten IWA West Country Branch volunteers, and team leaders from Somerset joined members of The Friends of The Grand Western Canal for a work party on the Grand Western Canal at Jay’s Cutting, Cothay near Wellington. Although some water was present the site is located in the ‘dry’ Somerset section of the GWC.
Much was achieved on the day and volunteers were involved with cutting back and removing floating and rotting wood, debris and other flotsam, extensive brambles, overhanging tree branches and hazel saplings, as well as strimming the canal footpath.
Volunteer numbers for IWA West Country Branch in Somerset continue to grow as do new opportunities for volunteers to get involved, such as the work party near Wellington on the Grand Western Canal. For information about future litter picks, or vegetation removal working parties, please contact: