Work on a three-year community project by the West Cumbria Rivers Trust to improve Longlands Lake and the River Keekle near Cleator Moor is making progress, despite the challenges of Covid-19.
The three-year People on the Keekle project is funded by Sellafield Ltd and comprises two related strands of work:
(1) Inspiring local communities to get involved with the natural environment through events and improvements to Longlands Lake, and;
(2) Improving water quality and habitats on the lower part of the River Keekle by working with farmers and landowners.
A spokesperson from the WCRT said:
"The project started in November 2019 and was planned to launch with a community event in April 2020, but lockdown sadly meant this couldn’t go ahead. We’ve spent the summer making a great start on works in the area and planning future community events that will take place when restrictions allow."
Work so far has included:
A new education area at Longlands Lake, including a new pond with a pond-dipping platform, an area for Forest Schools and eco therapy, seating, and an access-for-all path (due for completion in early 2021).
Planning new information boards and activity trails for Longlands Lake, including a brass rubbing nature trail and a geocache to test puzzle solving skills.
Invasive species management, including treating large areas of Japanese knotweed and removing Himalayan Balsam.
Fish surveys of the River Keekle to establish current populations.
Working with Cumbria County Council on plans to repair a culvert which drains into Longlands Lake.
Meeting with farmers, landowners and contractors in the lower River Keekle area to discuss ideas for projects on their land that will improve livestock management, water quality and freshwater habitats.
The spokesperson continued:
"We’ve also launched a local community newsletter about the project, Letters from Longlands, which will be distributed locally (in places such as GP surgeries) and online. To sign up to receive the newsletter by email, contact Karin.
"In the future we plan a wide range of family-friendly events at Longlands Lake (subject to COVID restrictions), including navigation skills and geocaching, balsam bashing, pond-dipping and building wildlife houses such as bird boxes. We’ll also be offering local schools free environmental education sessions and Forest Schools.
"In March we’ll be building willow hides and you can come along to learn how it’s done. Finally, you’ll see a lot more work on-the-ground, including creating more ponds and wetlands for wildlife, riverbank stabilisation to prevent erosion and repairs to angling platforms and improved access around the site."