History of the Wye & Usk Foundation

A timber blockage discovered on a Wye tributaryAn over grazed and stock damaged spawning streamIdeal habitat on the Clywedog, a Wye tributary that was restored under WHIP.Putcher ranks in the esturay - the buyout benefited migrating fish species on both rivers.Liming on the upper Wye to rectify acidity problems

Declining fish stocks were the initial catalyst for the formation of the Wye Foundation, which in effect began in 1996 thanks to the generous support and backing from fishermen, riparian owners and others interested in the well being of the river. Initially, a full time fisheries graduate, Richard White, was engaged and work began with a full survey of the tributary system of the upper Wye.

Results of the survey showed that there were considerable problems within the catchment. Barriers to migration, pollution, damage from excessive grazing and over shading were prevalent throughout the tributaries. Timber blockages, some as high as twelve feet, weirs and other barriers were removed (over 500 in total) to restore the passage of both brown trout and salmon to their native spawning streams. Several cases of pollution, including sheep dip, were also resolved as a result of the initial survey.

The next phase, and perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Foundation's work, involved restoring habitats that once supported a much wider range of fish, birds, animals and plants. This of course included the Atlantic salmon, so important since much of the local economy depends on this species. In partnership with Environment Agency Wales, Countryside Council for Wales, Game Conservancy Trust and Brecknock and Radnorshire Wildlife Trusts, the Foundation was successful in obtaining EU funding for the Wye Habitat Improvement Project . This has resulted in an encouraging upturn in the natural brown trout populations as well as improving the nursery habitat of salmon. We also found that a whole range of other important species benefitted including otters, shad, lamprey and the native White clawed crayfish.

Prior to 1996 the number of returning Wye salmon had been below the level necessary to guarantee the survival of future generations. We also turned our attention to conserving more of these fish for spawning. Our 'Catch and Release Schemes' plus changes to the byelaws raised the percentage of salmon returned from 7% to over 70%.

From these beginnings the Foundation teamed up the Usk and developed a full programme of works. For full details, please see the Problems and Projects sections.