Foundation News

Please see the Foundation News, Events, Consultations, River Reports & Navigation sections for their own news updates.

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Thursday 10 May, 2012

Big Upper Wye Litter Clear Up Completed!

A twelve-week initiative to clear litter from the upper river Wye has been successfully completed. From the start of February, groups of volunteers, organised by the Wye & Usk Foundation (WUF) with support from Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) and the River Wye Preservation Trust (RWPT), have been removing litter from the river’s source at Plynlimon downstream to Builth Wells and beyond, including the tributary streams. In addition to the practical benefits of removing the litter, The Big Upper Wye Litter Clear Up also draws attention to the amount of rubbish and other pollutants being allowed to enter the highly protected river Wye.

116 volunteers were involved in the project, including anglers, canoeists, wildlife enthusiasts, walkers and others with an interest in the Wye. 596 sacks of litter and larger items were removed from 103 miles of river and stream, including objects such as a car radiator, a lawnmower and a deep freeze. Even more worryingly, several drums containing agricultural and mechanical chemicals that damage the aquatic environment were also found. The collected litter was picked up and, where possible, recycled by Powys County Council.

Over 60% of the litter collected during The Big Upper Wye Litter Clear was believed to be of agricultural origin. The project follows on from a similar exercise on the rivers Lugg and Arrow last year where 220 volunteers cleared 767 sacks of rubbish from another 100 miles of river and stream, 61% of which was agricultural.

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith, Director of the Wye and Usk Foundation said: ““Tipping rubbish down banks and into rivers is, I’m sorry to say, part of our rural culture. By clearing it away we solve one part of the problem but I hope we also make people feel very uncomfortable about it so rubbish is disposed of properly in the future. We hope to clear the upper Wye’s main tributaries, the Ithon and Irfon, and further downstream on the main stem Wye next year.”

Tony Norman, the Foundation trustee managing the campaign, said: “It has been a delight to get to know the country so well in such a beautiful part of Wales. But, it is tinged with regret that the pristine water that falls on those hills is marred by the careless behaviour of a few people.”

Rachel Palmer of Keep Wales Tidy commented: “By working together we have achieved something that none of us could have managed alone. As well as cleaning up over 100 miles of river, the activity has raised awareness of the surprising levels of waste in an apparently clean rural river system. The volunteers have been absolutely fantastic and alongside lots of agricultural plastic and food and drink packaging there were some surprising finds including a surveyor's pole, a St George's flag and a floating bread-bin!” She added, “However, the litter clearing efforts don’t stop with the end of this project and if you would like to help us, please get in touch on 07717 497 442 or”

Simon Dereham of the River Wye Preservation Trust said: “Our principle aim is to help preserve one of England and Wales’s most beautiful rivers and we will continue to support all action in future efforts that will help keep our rivers clear of pollution and rubbish.”

Tuesday 1 May, 2012

EAW Successfully Prosecute Wye Poacher

A man from Birmingham has been handed a £1,000+ fine for illegally taking Wye salmon.

2012 1st salmon

Monday 2 April, 2012

1st salmon of 2012

On a beautiful spring day on the famous Wyesham beat of the Lower Wye , Nick James of Pol Roger and Chairman of WUF Trustees presents bottles of Brut Réserve to Chris Major (Llandogo)) and Peter Austin (Wantage). Chris caught the first Wye salmon of the 2012 season from the Coedithel beat on the opening day, weighing approximately 15lbs. Peter caught the first Usk salmon from Lower Monkswood on 13th March - he was fortunate to land it as his brand new reel jammed on full break for the entire fight - the fish weighed 9lbs. Both fish were safely returned. Congratulations to both anglers!

Wednesday 22 February, 2012

Wye and Usk Foundation Update

We are pleased to advise that fishing and land on the Wye is shortly to be sold at Auction. The fishing is known as Upper Ballingham and comprises 1200 yards right bank and 650 years left bank: included is a substantial hut. Pools and catches include Sheepwash crib, Greenbank, Hancocks Stream, Oaktree and Craydens. 12.5 acres of adjacent land are to be sold as a separate lot.

For details of the sale, please contact David Thompson of Sunderlands and Thompsons on 014432 356161 The date of the auction is 22nd March 2012.

Season rods are available at a number of Wye and Usk Fisheries:

Wye: Wyesham (a full rod on Monday and a half rod on Saturday or Sunday – day per week) Gromain and Rectory where a full rod can fish on any day of the week; Whitney, Cefnllysgwynne (Irfon) both let on a day per week basis.

Usk: Llanover, Chainbridge, Dan y Parc, Dinas and Abercynrig all let on a day per week basis.

Please ask Allyson on 01982 560788 for details of season rods. Day tickets are available on line or through the office.

Tuesday 7 February, 2012

The Big Upper Wye Clean-Up

From February 1st the Foundation, along with Keep Wales Tidy (KWT) and with support from the Wye Preservation Trust, is launching a twelve week initiative to remove litter from the upper Wye. Groups of volunteers will begin at its source at Plynlimon (Pumlumon) working their way downstream via Rhayader to Builth Wells by the end of April. The exercise is an extension a successful campaign in 2011 in which 220 volunteers removed over 50 tonnes of rubbish in a similar period from the rivers Lugg and Arrow, highlighting the amount of litter and other pollutants entering the rivers. The upper Wye project will also cover several important tributaries and, overall, it is hoped that 100 miles of this European designated river will be cleared. Progress will be reported via our website. We aim to keep the momentum going in future years.

We would be very interested to hear from anyone willing to volunteer for this exercise. On offer is a day out in a stunning part of the world! If you can spare a few hours and would like to take part then please contact the Foundation at 01982 560357 or Keep Wales Tidy at

Very much looking forward to hearing from you.

The Wye and Usk Foundation.

Wednesday 25 January, 2012

Water Resources Consultation 2012

The information recently posted here relating to WUF's response to the recent Welsh Water consultation on water resource management for the Wye and Usk has been moved to the "Consultations" section.

Wednesday 6 July, 2011

Nick Brabner

We are extremely sorry to say that our Trustee, Nick Brabner died early on 6th July. He had a severe stroke from which he never recovered.

In addition to steering the Foundation for nearly a decade, Nick has chaired the United Usk Fisheries Association for at least 25 years, has served on The Environment Agency Wales’s FERAC and chaired the Usk Local Fisheries Group. In 2000, Nick and I negotiated the buy off of the Usk Drift nets and he was later responsible for forming the Wye and Usk Foundation.

Apart from being one of the nicest people you could ever meet, Nick was tireless in working for the rivers, always putting others before himself and seeing above and beyond some of the fishing world’s less gratifying actions. To say he will be missed goes so far short of the huge space that this lovely man, head of family, friend, councillor, colleague, will leave.

We can only extend our deepest sympathy to his family and everyone who will miss him.

Wednesday 29 June, 2011

Construction and Conservation Join Forces to Restore a Herefordshire Stream

An important river Wye tributary and its wildlife will be the beneficiaries of a joint endeavour between a leading quarrying company, Tarmac, and Britain’s largest Rivers Trust, the Wye & Usk Foundation (WUF).

The Wellington Brook, which flows into the river Lugg near the Herefordshire village of Marden, was once an important spawning stream for fish species such as Atlantic salmon and Brown trout. Years of heavy modification, however, including the dredging of gravels to improve land drainage has drastically reduced its ability to support fish species and other wildlife.

Following approval from the Lugg Internal Drainage Board (IDB), work will begin to restore the brook to its more natural state. Tarmac will supply machinery and gravel with WUF contributing other materials and environmental expertise. The work will be part of WUF’s successful Lugg and River Arrow (LARA) Project, which is restoring biodiversity – species richness and variety - in rivers within 10 miles of Leominster. Focussing on fish, the 3-year project is funded by the SITA Trust’s Enriching Nature Programme and is due to be completed this year. So far 11km of river habitat have been restored and 2 fish passes have been built.

Michael Charlton, Restoration Manager for Tarmac said: “Conserving biodiversity is really important to Tarmac so we are delighted to be working with WUF on this exciting project to increase the habitat diversity of Wellington Brook, which was a key objective of our site Biodiversity Action Plan. This work adds further ecological value to a site which already provides varied habitats for a wide range of wildlife in the restored areas of the quarry.”

Dr Stephen Marsh-Smith, Director of WUF said: “Work on this lower Lugg tributary offers the chance to re-create salmon and trout spawning sites at an important point in the Wye catchment. Tarmac has already set aside a nature zone within the quarry’s operations and now this site will include a river of considerable value and biodiversity. None of this could have been done without the support of Tarmac, funding from the SITA Trust and a more environmentally sympathetic working policy from the Lugg IDB.”

Tuesday 14 June, 2011

OBE for the Wye & Usk Foundation

We are proud to announce that Stephen Marsh-Smith, Director of the Wye & Usk Foundation, has been awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to the “Environment and to Conservation on the Rivers Wye and Usk.” An avid fisherman for over half century, the award recognises the extraordinary efforts he has put into restoring and protecting the two rivers over the past 15 years.

Following the dramatic decline of the Wye’s Atlantic salmon runs in the late 1980s and 1990s, Dr Marsh-Smith, along with a group of other Wye owners, began to address the issues affecting their plight. In 1996 he established the Wye Foundation and began work to reverse the seemingly inexorable decline of Wye salmon and to try to restore both the river and the salmon numbers to levels at which they once again could be an important asset to the region’s economy. The organisation became the Wye & Usk Foundation (WUF) in 2002 and is now Britain’s largest Rivers’ Trust.

In addition to securing funding and running environmental projects, the Foundation, under his leadership, has been instrumental in measures to reduce the exploitation of salmon runs at a time when the species is in grave danger. These included the buy off of the commercial netting and putcher trapping of salmon in the Severn estuary in 2000, the cessation of the Irish Drift net fishery in 2007 and the introduction of catch and release initiatives for Wye salmon anglers.

Away from the Wye and Usk, Stephen has also played an important role in the political side of angling. As chair of the Anglers’ Conservation Association he helped to unite the various representative bodies into the Angling Trust and became its first Chairman in 2009. He also played a part in the creation of the Association of Rivers’ Trusts in 1999.

Nick Brabner, Chairman of the United Usk Fisherman’s Association and a WUF Trustee said: “It is testament to Stephen’s hard work that while achieving success in the world of river conservation, he also found time to be a Dental Practitioner. Despite having to negotiate the often treacherous waters of angling politics, his drive and commitment to the preservation of rivers, their salmon and the environment as a whole have been justifiably recognised with this honour.“

Wednesday 8 June, 2011

......The Class of 2011?......

By any standards, 2011 has been and extraordinary year, so far. So was 2010 and 2009..... but for different reasons. However, to get a fuller picture of current salmon runs in Wye and Usk, perhaps we should start by looking back a few years. 2007’s spring was almost as dry as 2011, was followed by a very wet summer and then a very dry autumn. By contrast, 2008 had a wet May, wet summer and autumn. The Usk did almost equally well in both years as it no longer relies on a spring run (1158 and 1035 rod caught salmon in 2007 and 2008 respectively). The 2007 Wye catch picked up in the wet summer with above average numbers of grilse (1 Sea Winter) but catches dwindled with the low autumn flows and we ended the year on 685. The next year produced 1,106 mainly 2 Sea Winter (2SW) fish but very few grilse and that should have been a warning.

2009 started well on the Wye – 42 fish was the best March for 20 years. This was largely made up of 3SW salmon, the same cohort as the 2SWs of 2008 and 1SWs of 2007. This was followed by a very poor run of 2SWs, characterised with some very thin fish and an almost complete absence of 1SWs - grilse. 2009 ended with a Wye catch of 620 while the Usk recorded just 491. Clearly some problems during the marine phase created weak returns of 1SWs in 2008, 2SWs in 2009 and an especially poor return of 2SW and 3SW salmon in 2010. This was mirrored across many UK rivers.

2010 therefore had a predictable shortage of 2SWs and 3SWs. However, most of the UK had a good grilse run that coincided with the wet summer. The problem for us in East Wales was that we didn’t have the rain and the fish held back until October which, when the rivers finally rose, produced 161 salmon in 17 days, the best end to the season for some years. Bigsweir finished the last day with 12 and salmon continued to enter the river for some time after the season finished. We simply did not get the opportunities and ended with a disappointing 477 salmon on the Wye and around 600 on the Usk.

I fished the Tywi one day in late summer 2010, arriving at 4pm as the rain started. By 5pm, I was so completely drenched that I had to stop, albeit two small grilse to the good. The river rose rapidly while I packed up but back at Erwood 45miles away, they hadn’t had a drop!

Back to the main story.......from last year’s strong grilse run, we might reasonably expect a stronger 2SW run in 2011, which so far appears to be the case on the Wye, though not necessarily a rise in 3SWs which made a bit of a showing perhaps coinciding with the first to return from our acid waters work. Low as it is on the Wye, the Usk languishes in worse drought conditions and we simply don’t know what might have come, rather as was the case with grilse on the Wye last year.

Thus ends the lesson on divided migration and apologies for being boring. It’s back on prayer mat again to get some more rain!

Salmon catches:

Angler’s reports:

We are still offering 3 days salmon fishing for two on our beats or 3 rods for two.

All the best from the Wye & Usk Foundation.

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