Slamannan A.C. Club was started by a small group of local anglers in 1933 and has been in existence from then throughout the war years. They have fished the upper reaches of the River Avon. Industries such as paper mills and open cast mining have taken their toll on the river and its wildlife.
In 1976, the Avon was dug out and canalised. Gravel beds were removed, boulders taken out, bends were filled in and the river course was straightened out. Pools were none-existent. This almost destroyed the habitat for fish, birds, invertebrate, water voles and otters.
The angling club felt the River Avon needed some help to recover and began making enquiries as how best to improve the habitat. We sought advice from Dr. Colin Bull, The Wild Trout Trust, River Restoration, SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Forth Foundation, Forth District Salmon Fisheries Board and the Crown Office who own most of the salmon rights. We had a very positive response from all of them.
S.A.PA. approached Simon Johnson from the Wild Trout Trust, who arranged an advisory visit to River Avon by Ron Holloway, who was found to be very enthusiastic about our proposals. He advised not to try too much at once. He said to split the area into phases. We then split it into 4 phases. The reason being, we could learn from each phase and repeat all the good lessons as we move on.
We approached Arthur Berg from the Falkirk Environmental Trust as we needed a small grant to do an electrofish study on the river. This was done by Dr. Willie Yoemans of the Clyde Foundation. The survey concluded that the river was featureless habitat and could benefit a great deal from our proposals. We are told we need to do a mammal survey. Dr Paul Baker did this and we submitted it to S.N.H.
We had to approach the landowners on both sides of the river. We were met with a very good response from them. They all signed a document giving permission to do habitat improvement. This is subject to all the interested bodies’ permission. (SEPA, DSFB, Crown Fishing’s and Council Planning).
SAPA were advised by A. Berg to put together a business plan. This was to prove a very daunting experience, but we were aided by our local councillor J. McLuckie, Tony Beekman the local Community Education Officer and Alison Batchelor, who also works in Slamannan Community Centre.