The continuing dry weather in July meant that the grass on the locksides has stopped growing for now, having taken on more of a dusty brown colour rather than a luscious green.
This may mean that they can’t compete with the courts we have been seeing at Wimbledon this month, but it does give me a welcome respite and a chance to catch up with the rest of my workload. One such job is that of pulling Himalayan Balsam, a non-native invasive plant species that if left alone will out-compete our native plant life and take over the river banks reducing the diversity of wildlife. This is why I have been busy with my volunteers along the Stoke Length pulling it up by the root before it goes to seed. I also helped lead the Wey Navigation Conservation Volunteers, who spent this month’s work party doing a mass “Balsam Bash” at Walsham.
My volunteers and I have been busy this month clearing up around the boatyard at Stoke Lock, disposing of all the rubbish that I have collected from along and in the river. This may sound a simple task but in a bid to reduce costs and recycle as much as possible everything has had to be sorted, and disposed of in different ways. Firstly I wanted to try and return or re-use as much as possible so we returned old road signs and barriers to Surrey County Council, life rings to Guildford Borough Council, shopping Trolleys to Tesco and old bicycles to the Guildford Bike Project for restoration. Then the scrap metal was collected for recycling by our maintenance team, the wood and brash was burnt on the bonfire and anything else went into just one six yard skip. There were also a number of fibreglass boats which needed to be disposed of, which were craned away whole by a licenced waste carrier, which as you can imagine was not cheap but was the cleanest and most environmentally friendly disposal method.
Of course the weather couldn’t hold all month and when it rained, it poured. I spent the afternoon drenched to the bone at Thames Lock helping visiting boats coming onto the Wey from the Thames at Weybridge. This is our only manned lock on the Wey and gives us a chance to issue boats with licences and give them any information they may need. Of course the rain also meant that river levels started to rise, keeping us busy operating the weirs throughout the night and the rest of the weekend as the rain water quickly ran-off and flow rates dropped back down again.
Other tasks this month have been dealing with fallen trees, hedge trimming around Stoke and arranging for the destruction of 5 wasp nests!!! All in a bid to make the Wey Navigation a great place to be this summer.
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