Native restoration project reels in anglers for help

  • Fishing Environment
  • Otago
  • 15/05/2024

Native restoration project reels in anglers for help

Anglers have waded in to help a catchment group and a high-country farm restore and rewild an important spawning stream in Wānaka.

The native restoration project took another big step on Tuesday (May 14) at Fern Burn, at Alpha Burn Station, near Glendhu Bay.

The Wānaka Catchment Group's Wai Ora Project and Alpha Burn Station have contributed more than $25,500 for 850 metres of new fencing for a streamside section retired from grazing.

Above: Upper Clutha Angling Club members and Otago Fish & Game councillors Rick Boyd (left) and Ian Cole help out with planting at Fern Burn at Alpha Burn Station on Tuesday. (May 14, 2024) Photo: Mason Court, Otago Fish & Game

Fourteen volunteers from the Upper Clutha Angling Club joined catchment group members, the landowner and Otago Fish & Game to help plant 400 locally sourced native plants on Tuesday.

A $2500 habitat grant from Otago Fish & Game contributed towards the plants and guards.

Otago Fish & Game officer Mason Court said Fern Burn was an important tributary of Lake Wānaka.

“We’re thrilled Wai Ora and Alpha Burn Station are pitching in to restore native habitat in this gem of a stream,” Mr Court said.

“Fish & Game is delighted to support this project through its habitat fund.

“As well as providing accessible fishing opportunities, Fern Burn is used by hundreds of rainbow trout each year for spawning.”

Left: Wānaka Catchment Group’s Wai Ora project manager Tom Allen sets up guards for the native plants at Fern Burn at Alpha Burn Station on Tuesday. (May 14, 2024) Photo: Mason Court, Otago Fish & Game

Wai Ora project manager Tom Allen said Fish & Game had been a partner to the Wai Ora Project since its inception in 2021, due to combined interests in protecting the waterways of the Lake Wānaka Catchment and providing safe fish passage.

“Fish & Game, with the support of the Upper Clutha Anglers hands on the ground, has aided our group in achieving our planting objectives in not just today's site - but multiple sites across our special Lake Wānaka catchment,” Mr Allen said. 

“With the addition of today's plants, we have now added over 22,000 plants to farms in the catchment over the past three years, as well as installing 11 kilometres of new riparian fencing, and excluding stock from over 37 hectares of riparian zones.

“Thank you to the Upper Clutha Anglers for getting these plants in the ground. We look forward to watching this site develop in the years to come.”

Most of the 400 plants are native dryland species, which will help filter nutrients from the surrounding farm land, while other plants near the stream will provide cover and shade for trout.

Upper Clutha Angling Club president Ian Cole, who is an Otago Fish & Game councillor and professional fishing guide, said the club was approached to supply volunteers.

“I’m really pleased with the number of club anglers who’ve volunteered to help,” Cr Cole said.

“It illustrates a willinginess in the community to get involved in worthwhile projects.”

Cr Cole said the angling club had a keen historical interest in Fern Burn.

“This is an incredibly important rainbow trout spawning habitat,” he said.

“In the past, angling club members have undertaken spawning surveys to locate spawning redds and fish counts.”

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