Steyning Downland Scheme - News

Great News!
By some astonishing miracle, all the money has come in that we needed to complete the restoration of the Upper Mill Pond on the Rifle Range!

After the best efforts of a crack team of SDS volunteers came to naught a couple of years ago, we’ll be using specialist contractors repair the pond dam and sluice so that we can control the water level all year round. This will stop the pond becoming a mud pie in the summer and encourage new aquatic wildlife to colonise. The work is planned for later this year.

A very special ‘THANK YOU’ to everyone who supported the ‘Help Our Pond’ fundraiser, for all the other generous contributions from local walkers (and one in particular) and to the Sussex Community Foundation Nino Fund.

Volunteer Biochemist.
Incidentally after this report was published last autumn, the SDS Land Management Group would really like to hear from a volunteer biochemist who can help us test pond water quality. Perhaps this is a job for a local student or retired scientist? Do please get in touch if you’re interested.

Stinking Iris:
It looks strangely out of place in the countryside - like some evergreen garden escape, but in fact Stinking Iris (Iris foetidissima) is a native plant, and not all that common either.

The ‘stink’ supposedly comes from its leaves, which give off a rather odd smell of raw meat when crushed. At this time of year, mature plants proudly display brilliant red/orange seeds which are eaten (and spread to new germination sites) by birds.

Search under scrubby field margins and in woodland on the Steyning Downland to see it. The best time to look is winter, when the dark green leaves and seeds stand out most.

With the recent high winds, we’re having all sorts of issues with Ash trees tipping over in our woodland. Devoted readers will recall that Ash Dieback disease is now rife in the Horseshoe Woods, which should most certainly be avoided on windy days.

Percy and Paul (mountain bike reps on the SDS People Engagement Group) took the difficult decision last week to completely close the MTB area while repairs are carried out - these will take a few weeks to complete (do contact us if you’d like to help).

We also have a particular issue along the stretch of Bridleway which connects the MTB area to the Upper Horseshoe (see map below) which has many large Ash growing beside it.

Access issues on very steep slopes make clearing infected Ash in these areas a real challenge - realistically it’s likely to be years rather than months before we’re clear.

Meanwhile please be vigilant - best to avoid altogether in windy weather.

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