Connecting the Culm – all change but full steam ahead!

 In Connecting the Culm
Stephen Johnson standing by the river on a sunny day with bare feet

Stephen Johnson, project manager for connecting the Culm, after an immersive experience in the river at Ellerheyes

In mid-March we waved a fond farewell to project manager, Steven Johnson, who has been at the helm of the Connecting the Culm project since its launch in 2019. Steven will be joining the Environment Agency with a remit for natural flood management across Devon and Cornwall. His detailed knowledge of the River Culm will travel with him into his new role, creating a useful regional link. Given the Co-Adapt-funded phase of the project is due to finish in December, the decision was taken not to replace the project manager role itself. Instead, the work will be covered by variety of part-time team members who will report to Blackdown Hills AONB Manager, Tim Youngs. James Maben will be taking on reporting and evaluation; Dominic Acland will be developing the River Culm Blueprint; and Cat Farnell joins our existing community, engagement and co-creation team, made up of Sarah Ward, Ella Chambers and Anna Seal (from Westcountry Rivers Trust) and Clare Groom (from Blackdown Hills AONB). Catherine Corfield remains in post as Connecting the Culm project administrator.

The other loss to the team was Daniel Halford, who has been working with farmers and landowners on nature-based solution pilots on their land in the Culm catchment. Daniel’s post will be filled from within the Westcountry Rivers Trust team.

We are delighted to welcome Lucy Jefferson (who has moved from the Blackdown Hills AONB team) into the new role of Culm catchment officer. She will be delivering a five-year project (aligned to Connecting the Culm) which will focus on communities at risk of rapid flooding.

This spring, we have been continuing our community engagement work with new vigour – getting out into communities to gain local knowledge, share our expertise, and find out from people who live and work near the River Culm what is important to them.

In March, Clare Viner and Cat Farnell attended an evening concert in Kentisbeare. Claire recounted her captivating Culm stories to over 120 people, who had gathered to enjoy some wonderful singing. Cat had some great conversations with members of the community about the Connecting the Culm project and locally important issues.

Upcoming Connecting the Culm events

Join us to help create a better future for your local river, share your local knowledge, help improve your community’s flood resilience, and learn how nature-based solutions can help us adapt to climate change.

There will be plenty of opportunities to meet with the Connecting the Culm team over the coming months, both online and in person.

Here are just some of the activities coming up, with more planned throughout the year:

Meet us in person at fun community events:

Take part in our online workshops:

Volunteering opportunities:

Would you like to take practical action to help improve the health of the Culm, its tributaries and the habitats around its watercourses? Here’s how you can get involved:

Find out more about Connecting the Culm at

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