Extensive work was done by the Rotary Club in the past both to make Low Locks an accessible area to the local community and to make it a good area for wildlife. In the last couple of years it has been difficult to keep up to date with the maintenance, particularly in the summer months when the nettle beds grow very quickly and block some of the paths. Last summer we were joined for a day in October by Deeping Face book page members who helped us to clear all the paths and the central area to the south of the island. This has kept the island accessible all winter and it has been used by a lot of people. In January 2015 Mike White and Sue Titman visited the island and considered the next steps. The aim is still to make the island accessible to locals and at the same time to improve its value to wildlife.
Plan for the next steps in priority order see map
1. The Facebook page expressed a desire to open up a large area to the south of the Island. This was done by the autumn strimming but it will soon be overtaken again by nettles. We therefore propose to try to clear an area marked on the map as new maintained short grass for picnics. After racking, rolling and seeding this area will need to be seeded at some time from late March. Preparation needs to begin from the end of February 2015. Once established it will need to be mown regularly all summer to keep the nettles at bay.
2. The map shows cross shaded areas for wildlife. These go round most of the open area. It is important that most of the shore of the island is left wild as it gives nesting and feeding areas for lots of wildlife and the creatures that live on the river banks (especially water voles). This means that nettles (valuable for lots of insects) will still grow here. They cause problems on the paths as they grow tall and then flop over stinging anyone using the paths. We therefore propose to manage the paths in the following manner. Where the paths are grassed they should be cut about 2 feet wide at a low setting, with a further strip the width of the mower but at the highest setting on either side. Finally strim back an edge of vegetation to about a foot high either side to reduce the possibility of overhanging nettles. See diagram at the bottom right of the map. This would need to be done very regularly thorough the year.
3. The rest of the large open area cleared last autumn will need to be strimmed regularly through the spring, autumn and summer to keep down the nettles and to encourage natural regeneration of grass. This needs a regular routine of strimming to be established. NB the sapling and trees planted in the past by Rotary need to be maintained. Planting of more trees (native species) could be considered here.
4. We need to repair or replace the seat at the southern point of the island. We could consider moving this seat so it gives a better view of the river downstream.
5. The hard surface paths created in the past have become covered by leaf fall over the years making them a bit muddy. As we go into summer and this dries out we could consider trying to rediscover the hard surfaces or we could add bark layers in very muddy areas. Grass could be sown on the unsurfaced paths in late March to improve their surfaces
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