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Puzzled . . . Australian fisherman Peter Endres cannot understand why Environment Southland workers felled this willow and tied it down with ropes on the side of the Waimea Stream at Mandeville. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

An Environment Southland makeover of a fishing spot on the Waimea River has one fisherman perplexed.

Australian Peter Endres, who lives in Mataura for six months of the year, has been fishing southern rivers, including the stream at the end of Hatfield Rd, Mandeville, for about 20 years.

Mr Endres said Environment Southland workers had left debris in the water and a felled willow had been laid along the side of the south bank and tied down.

“I don’t know why they did it,” Mr Endres said.

“They’re assuming [the tree] is going to stop the water from cutting into that bank .. perhaps they know better than me but that’s what rivers do, they meander and that’s what makes them so nice.

“I’m just wondering if a farmer did that and left it in that state would they be prosecuted?”

The machinery used had chopped up the shingle beach, he said.

“Breaking that up has definitely destabilised it .. this will get all washed out.”

He could understand if willows choked the river it might be necessary to pull them out but this stretch of water did not have many willows.

“I just can’t see much logic in it.”

Piles of partially burned trees had been left on the riverbank.

The damage had been done in the past two weeks.

He had always enjoyed fishing the stretch of the river.

“There was always fish there because it is a place of safety and shade.

“There’s nice pools, nice slow water for brown trout.”

However, the site would not be much good for fishing until some time had passed, he said.

Environment Southland catchment division team leader David Connor said the regional council was legally responsible for channel maintenance and land drainage maintenance on rated waterways throughout Southland.

“It is important work that allows the channel to have as much capacity as possible for a flood event, and provides outfall so land drainage systems can function correctly,” Mr Connor said.

“This work helps protects people’s assets both on the land and in the towns.”

The work completed on the Waimea Stream included taking out willows that had grown too large or had collapsed into the waterway, he said.

“Leaving offending willows in the channel can cause erosion and debris build-ups, which can cause further downstream effects during a flood situation.

“The willows will regenerate as the stumps are left in place or layered to stabilise the bank.”

It was likely that during this work it could look untidy when removing willows, as other debris could subsequently move downstream and be caught on gravel bars.

“Efforts are being made to clean the debris up as soon and as much as practical,” Mr Connor said.

“Willows, slash and debris is then piled up to be burnt or chipped.”