From a correspondent:
Many of the people living in the lower Otter Valley have expressed very forcible views on the Lower Otter Valley Restoration Project but few have actually shown the “get up and go” of Patrick Hamilton, the new Pride of Devon 2020 Countryside Champion, sponsored by Bicton College.
Since 2011 Patrick has led the Otter Valley Association’s project to eliminate Himalayan Balsam, an invasive species on the whole of the Otter catchment and has helped make a big impact on the Lower Otter. He has organised volunteer work parties to pull up the plant and strim in open areas without major obstacles.
Whilst herbicides are effective, they cannot be used indiscriminately, particularly close to water courses.
Annual return visits are required to discourage re-growth.
Following the River Tale’s successful strategy of first clearing the tributaries, the OVA adopted this same policy on the Lower Otter catchment, led by Patrick. He has liaised with the many partners and land owners tackling this project.
In addition, for many years he has organised the annual litter pick at the mouth of the Otter estuary.
As the citation quotes:
Patrick plays a huge part in the Otter Valley Association running worthwhile projects and practical conservation work including annual litter picks and extricating Himalayan balsam – a plant that threatens the native biodiversity of the Otter Valley. This year despite restrictions on group sizes, Patrick’s efforts have not been diminished. Him and a team of volunteers have still managed to win the fight against the invasive plant. His personal contribution and response to this alien invader locally would not be where it is today. The landscape and communities of the Lower Otter Valley are much indebted to Patrick’s tireless effort. He is a true countryside champion.
Pride of Devon Awards 2020
Countryside Champion – sponsored Bicton College
Nominated by Kate Ponting from Clinton Devon Estate