Friday 18 October 2019

Blackwater wildlife trail is really taking shape

David Tucker

WHILE many of us have been sitting back and enjoying ourselves over the summer, the members of the hard-working Tidy Towns committee in Blackwater have been putting their collective shoulders to the wheel to create a wildlife trail in the heart of the village.

The project, which is being championed by People Newspapers as part of the national 'Get Involved' scheme and competition, is aimed at creating a trail that will be accessible to all.

The trail follows the course of the old millstream from the village centre to woodland on the seashore where it connects with other forest trails. Naturalist Chris Wilson is one of the advisers.

The concept was arrived at following discussions by members of Blackwater Tidy Towns about how the village can be enhanced and at the same time to chart how best to protect, preserve and enhance what is a very special and unspoiled local environment.

Stone work is under way on the millrace although the recent spell of bad weather is holding things up.

Bat and nesting boxes are in the process of being put up and finger signs for forest and nature walks along the millrace have already been installed.

This work is already bearing fruit with some people who have mobile homes in the village delighted to use a nature trail they were not even aware of until they saw them.

Every Saturday, the Tidy Towns group held a history walk around the village, an event which proved very popular.

Maps of the nature and walking trails are with the printers and will soon be available while seating for the nature walk is on order just waiting on delivery.

The trail begins where the millrace spurts from beneath the main road, next door to Etchingham's pub, which once relied on the now long-gone mill wheel to generate its power.

As part of the project, committee members, FAS workers and other volunteers spent some time clearing the riverbed of obstructions which had built up over the years to make it flow more naturally.

Diggers were hired and local volunteers gave up their time to carefully clear stones that had built up beneath the arches of the bridge over the Blackwater.

The stone was saved to use in other parts of the walk, including in the building of a pathway around the insect area.

'We didn't find any gold,' was the reply when treasurer Bridget Cullen was asked what, if anything, unusual, they uncovered during that work.

The village's Tidy Towns chairman, Bill O'Neill, said a history of the walk will be set up close to the village beside the existing composting - garden area.

The wild nature of all the areas along the way, which stretches 5km to Ballyconnigar Forest, and beyond, where it will connect to other trails, is being preserved.

The work has already revealed a centuries old well which once would have served the village, but which had been covered since the milllrace was diverted to its present course many years ago and which is now visible for the first time in generations.

As it stands, Chris says very very little should be done to change its nature of the walk, the entrance to which is just off the main Wexford road.

Blackwater Tidy Towns has a budget of €5,000 to cover the cost of the project, the Department of the Environment Funds channelled through Wexford County Council.

The committee hopes that by the end of September, the project will have been completed and Blackwater will have its wildlife walk.

'Get Involved' is a sustainable community initiative and competition developed by two local newspaper associations – NNI Local and the RNPAI. Between them, these two associations represent 51 local newspapers with a combined readership of 1.65 million people, across all the 26 counties in the Republic.

Local newspapers, including this one, are all getting involved to promote voluntary sustainability projects and to ensure that local communities all over Ireland become much more resilient to the many challenges they face.

The projects will compete to be awarded for their work in a national competition, with bursaries for winning and runners-up projects.

Enniscorthy Guardian