Impress the Chess

Chesham Connect have just awarded a grant to Impress The Chess, which is a partnership organisation between local environmental conservation bodies, community groups and local authorities to protect and restore the River Chess, the chalk stream flowing through Chesham.

The grant is for the  Canon’s Wood Dog Steps Project. Canon’s Wood is a very popular section of the Chess Valley Walk on public footpath 118. At two locations there are bench seats beside the banks of the River Chess. These are very popular sites for both dogs and people to enter the water which has resulted in the banks becoming damaged and eroded. The project will repair these sites by installing ‘Dog Steps’, which provide safe and easy access into the river for dogs whilst protecting the river bank. Trees will be coppiced to reduce the over-shading, woody structures in the stream will be installed as a natural solution to increase flow and reduce siltation and the seats replaced. Many residents walk their dogs through this area on a daily basis. The project will improve the appearance of the area, and it will make the access to the river easier and safer for both humans and dogs.

Improving the channel will make the river in this location a better habitat for a wide range of wildlife, from invertebrates to mammals. Reducing silt will provide the possibility of spawning habitat for the native brown trout (there is evidence of trout trying to spawn nearby) which is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species. Protecting the bank and the bank-side plants, will provide habitat for water voles. Water voles are the most endangered mammal in the UK and there are only 2 indigenous populations of water voles in Buckinghamshire, the Chess population being one. Water voles are attempting to re-colonise the river in town and greater continuity of habitat will increase their chances of being successful.

Photo of the River Chess - before

Project Date: 2017