Introducing the newest member of our team … Hannah!

Hi everyone, I’m Hannah and I’m the newly appointed Community Engagement Intern for Welsh Dee Trust. I’m currently here working with the trust until November where you can find me behind the scenes of our social media accounts, attending our volunteer events, and occasionally out in the field!

So far I have only been here for a month, yet it feels as though I’ve been here forever (in a good way)!

In my short time here I have …

Attended stalls with Maddy (our Project Officer for our ‘It Shouldn’t Be In The Dee’ programme), going out the morning of – armed with wellies, a net and bucket – to collect what little water invertebrates we can from the tributaries of the Dee to bring a little spice to our stall. On our first stall together, the Caldy Brook just outside Chester was our fishing ground … however when we stuck our nets in (not really, we followed the very proper and scientific method of kick sampling  – at 6:30 in the morning …) they returned nothing! Not even a little pond snail. Can you imagine our disappointment … (and what that must say about the health of the Caldy Brook, yikes!). However, thankfully our stand that day was for the Chester Regatta on the banks of the Dee, where we were able to source a couple of minnows, some molluscs, two flatfish (!!), and of course, plenty of Gammarus shrimp and water louse.

On my second day here we held a SUP paddleboard litter pick in Farndon with SUP Lass Adventures and some of our volunteers, and what a fantastic start to the job it was! Off we went with trug buckets and litter pickers balancing carefully on our boards – as we were also; with some members of the team having never set foot (…or knee?) on a paddleboard before. It was absolutely ideal to be out on the water with our pickers where we could reach things we previously couldn’t from the riverbank. Notably, 5 whole traffic cones from under the bridge and countless plastic bags trapped in the banks!

I have spent days out with Gareth, our Project Officer for the ‘Restoring River Habitat’ programme, meeting the contractors carrying out our heavy lifting work, seeing sites at the beginning, middle and end stage of their restoration. On one site we visited, the landowner had a river running through a field grazed by cattle. The river’s path had been previously modified at one point and the original embankment was still just about visible. With these factors in mind, plans were made to put up a fence as far back from the riverbank as the landowner would agree to allow the river to bend and move as it wishes with the absence of the erosion and pollution pressures of the cattle. Of course beforehand, the river provided the main source of drinking water for the cattle, and with it now fenced off, troughs would have to be added to the field.

Along with all these points to already consider, the landowner also required the field on the adjacent side of the river to be continuously accessible which then meant river gates and a concrete track between the fences and down to the river also had to be fitted. If I’ve learnt only one thing this past month its that nothing is ever simple and there are always more things to consider than you first think! Everything here is a learning curve and I’m excited to be along for this journey.

This has been just a tiny snapshot of my work thus far at Welsh Dee Trust and I look forward to the coming months creating more online content and working with more volunteers!

See you out there!