Many ardent readers, and some readers who just have fairly good memories, will recall that one of my pastimes is being a countryside ranger for Durham County Council. One of the side-effects of this is that sometimes I get involved in things which are nothing to do with Durham County Council – e.g. slaughtering the vegetation along the riverside paths in Barnard Castle or being a Green Guide on the Moorhouse/Upper Teesdale NNR.
And so, some while back, one snowy Tuesday, in fact, I was recruited by National England to take part in the National Protection of Rare Sedges Project which starts on April 1st this year.
This is a scheme under EU Directive 38713(a) Protection of Rare Sedges (UK) Regulations and Orders which provide moneys and preferred strategies to protect three very rare sedges which grow in Cumbria in certain peri-glacial cirques and, uniquely in the North Pennines alongside Maize Beck as part of the Upper Teesdale Assemblage of Arctic/Alpine remnants.
It would seem that these particular sedges (Carex Dioica or Fingered Sedge, Carex Atrata – Black Alpine Sedge and Carex Capillaris – Hair Sedge) don’t specially enjoy being flattened, although a bit of light pedestrian traffic is usually of no detriment. But in certain places, these plants are Under Threat from people sleeping on them overnight – that is people camping in tents and under tarps. They just don’t like groundsheets, simple as that. A couple of nights being crushed and, stems broken, they’re gone, although they can regenerate from soil-held seed repository given respite.
And so, a group of about eight Countryside Rangers – in fact, those who were trained in micro navigation and night time movement and skills for nocturnal animal monitoring, have been recruited to patrol particular areas at night in order to remove or evict people camping illicitly. We do, in fact, have the additional backup of the Cumbria and County Durham police helicopters in case things get a bit lairy.
We’ve been advised by the police that the initial approach will be the removal of key tent pegs and the use of a loud hailer, flourescent orange smoke and an 80 decibel recording of a police dog to waken and disorientate the campers. We will initially just monitor the campers from a pre-selected vantage point and approach tents between 2:30 and 3:30 a.m. This is the most likely time for a police helicopter to be available, apparently.
The areas chosen for the initial test runs will be Angle Tarn near Langdale, Kidstypike and the West shore of Haweswater and the Pennine Way between Cauldron Snout and High Cup Nick. Later, we’ll be having exercises at Red Tarn under Helvellyn and at Sty Head Tarn, Stickle Tarn and Langstrath next to Borrowdale.
Its an exciting prospect. We’ll be recruiting more peeps if anybody wants to join in the fun, and the best thing is, of course, is that we get a bounty of £12.50 for each wild camper we eject and this goes up to £50 if they have to be arrested. We get overnight expenses too, obviously.
Good, eh? I’m looking forward to it. Wild Campers? They’ll be furious!
Be careful with the comments, there, chaps….