Since installing the first 30+ tonnes of boulders at the Muck Water in an attempt to improve the habitat, particularly for salmon, we returned over the last two days to seek opinions from Glasgow University specialists in river engineering and a SEPA hydro morphologist before placing the final boulders and calling an end to this work.
We are in discussions with both SEPA and Glasgow University over the benefit of green engineering techniques and in particular river bank restoration. The Muck Water was just one site we visited yesterday but it was helpful and beneficial for us to hear specialist opinions on the work that was underway. Bearing this in mind, we returned today to place the last few loads of boulders that had been dropped on site.
As we waited on Robert (the machine man to finish his lunch, Muir and I were pleased to see a good number of parr rising in the pool between and around the boulders. This is encouraging as parr were definitely lacking suitable habitat prior to the works. We also noted fry darting for cover under the boulders. Whilst this burn has been previously modified through straightening and relocation in 1916, the work we have undertaken can’t be called restoration as that would mean significant alteration and expense.
The habitat improvements we’ve made have been done sympathetically in an attempt to put natural type features back in the river and eventually these may encourage natural process such as deposition and scour to occur but the principle aim was to give parr in particular, areas of refuge and that’s exactly what’s been done. Hopefully smolt output may increase as a result of this.
We now have to wait and see what effect a big spate has on the boulders and whether any immediate alterations will be required.