Earlier this week Stuart and I were set the task of removing the invasive non-native Floating Pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) from the Blackwater River at Mill Lane, Sandhurst. Such a big job required two task and two teams of helpful volunteers.
On Monday we tackled the source of the problem. Mike Barrass from the Farnham Angling Society was very kind to give us access to the river. We began by unblocking the net which filters out the stream into the river. Adrian Bicknell and Stuart Keable from the Environment Agency were a huge help with their drysuits and boat. They navigated deep water and low branches to remove the largest section of Floating Pennywort into boats. The full boats were then pushed up river and heaved onto dry land. It was very hard work as the plant became very heavy and the river was hard to navigate. The removed plants were then unloaded onto shore far from areas likely to flood back into the river. It took 12 boat loads to clear that section of the river.
The next day Chris and Duncan, two of our regular volunteers, joined us for part two of the task. In order to ensure the Pennywort would not come back soon we had to remove all the small parts which had evaded the net. Duncan, Stuart and I donned our waders and braved the depths of the river to catch the plant remains and load them into trug buckets. Chris was an excellent banksman ensuring a fresh supply of buckets, disposing of the Pennywort into black bags and answering questions from confused walkers. By the end of the day we removed 6 bags full and were quite soggy.
Thank you very much to everyone who helped us out on this difficult task.