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Ambitious plans for nature reserve
A DARLINGTON nature reserve aims to put itself on the map as it approaches its tenth anniversary next year.
Since 2003 the Maidendale Nature and Fishing Reserve Trust has overseen the transformation of scrubland off Salters Lane, Firthmoor into an attractive nature reserve with walking routes and fishing ponds.
Trust committee members met this week to discuss how to keep the reserve sustainable and are looking at applying for funding to build a toilet block and a small office or classroom at the site.
They are also planning to hold an anniversary open day next year and hope to attract larger wildlife organisations from the region to work with them to continue improving Maidendale.
Speaking at the Trust’s AGM at Pilmoor Green Community Centre on Tuesday evening, Ian Thompson, who was voted to continue as its chairman, said that the committee wanted to ensure the reserve was accessible to all Darlington residents and valued by the local community.
“There are still people in Darlington who have not got a clue where Maidendale is,” he said.
“New signage will help that, but we really want and need to attract families and school groups to come and use the reserve.
“Without basic facilities like a toilet, it’s not going to happen.”
Trust secretary Dave Preston agreed and suggested that the committee apply for a Sport England grant of up to £50,000 to build a toilet and office or classroom.
He said these facilities would help make the nature reserve a more viable place for local organisations such as schools, colleges and the health service to use for educational and therapeutic purposes.
Over the last year Maidendale has benefited from funding from the Dulverton Trust, Big Lottery and Awards for All.
This funded the creation of a garden for parent and toddler groups as well as new signs and information points – the last of which are expected to be installed by early November.
A media training project was also launched which saw six local youngsters work with a professional cameraman to make a DVD about the flora and fauna found on the reserve.
In addition, leaflets detailing Maidendale’s attractions have been ordered and these will be ready early next month to be distributed throughout Darlington.