Save Miller Beck County Wildlife Site

The National Trust recently sold 11 hectares of the Miller Beck County Wildlife Site, and by selling at auction to the highest bidder, there was no protection on the land.

The new owner has already canalised much of the beck, which is a spawning ground for salmon and crayfish, and has also dug new field drains and spread lime which is in direct contravention of the Wildlife Trust's management recommendations.

We're calling on the Cumbria Local Sites Partnership members to take action to preserve the Miller Beck County Wildlife Site — and you can help!

Some background

The Miller Beck County Wildlife Site at Staveley-in-Cartmel is 14.4 hectares of valley fen with a series of marshy pastures and meadows on low-lying and peat soils on the floodplain of the Miller Beck and its tributaries at the foot of England's largest lake, Windemere.

Of the 11 different habitats found, the Tall-herb fens, Rush pasture and Habitat mosaics are BAP priority habitats meaning that they have been identified as a priority for conservation. County Wildlife Sites are not protected by law. Their survival depends on owners and managers being sympathetic to the needs of wildlife.

The Cumbria Local Sites Partnership is responsible for monitoring and protecting the Millerbeck County Wildlife Site. The partnership membership includes Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Cumbria County Council, Lake District National Park Authorities, District Councils, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, and The National Trust.

The National Trust recently sold 11 hectares of the Miller Beck County Wildlife Site, and by selling at auction to the highest bidder, there was no protection on this land.

The new owner has already canalised much of the beck, which is a spawning ground for salmon and crayfish, and has also dug new field drains and spread lime which is in direct contravention of the Wildlife Trust's management recommendations.

More about the County Wildlife Site

County Wildlife sites highlight the key habitats within the countryside, places outside of officially protected nature reserves an SSSIs, which have a rich diversity and provide refuges for a great variety of species

This 14.4 ha site is a valley fen with a series of marshy pastures and meadows on flat low-lying alluvial and peat soils on the floodplain of the Miller Beck and its tributaries. Of the 11 different habitats found, the following are BAP priority habitats - meaning that they have ben identified as a priority for conservation and funding.

Management Reccomendations

  1. No additional drainage work to protect wetland habitat
  2. Do not clear drains every year. Clearing only one side in any year allows wildlife to survive and recover
  3. Avoid use of manure, fertiliser, herbicide, pesticide or supplementary feding within the site.
  4. Sluices on the drains would allow water level control, so water levels could be kept high in spring/early summer to inhibit tufted hair-grass (on the meadows next to the road) and benefit wildlife, then lowered later if neccessary
  5. Hedges along the main road should be laid and cut only every few years to keep them tall and vigorous which will provide a barrier against pollution and a habitat for birds and insects.
  6. Keep other hedges low through coppicing or laying to maintain the potential for ground nesting birds eg. curlew and snipe (we also have nightjars nesting again this year) Fences around the reedbed should be maintained
  7. Continue to cut hay from meadows by road late in the summer
  8. Continue to lightly graze other rush pastures, ideally with cattle and ponies with occasional late summer cutting on rotation to reduce dominance of rushes and tufted hair grass.

Selected Species List

Ground Flora

Trees and shrubs