In the summer of 2017, Mr Layers, the Geology Otter, was one of 101 otters on display in and around Dartmoor as part of Dartmoor National Park’s Moor Otters arts trail. Mr Layers was admired by many residents and visitors to the town. The Town Council contributed towards the sponsorship of this initiative, which raised £60,000. These funds have been used by Dartmoor National Park for 3 projects:
Project 1 – Junior Rangers. This project offers young people between the ages of 12 and 16 years a chance to develop a deeper understanding of Dartmoor as well as practical and personal skills. Junior Rangers have opportunities for learning, meeting like-minded people and enjoying the outdoors. In 2018, the Junior Rangers won the prestigious UK National Parks Volunteer Group Award.
Project 2 – Invasive Non-native Plant Control. Funds have been used to tackle two invasive plants – Himalayan Balsam and American Skunk Cabbage. By organising community volunteer groups in priority catchment areas in the upper reaches of rivers such as the Dart and the Tavy, a real impact has been made on the prevalence of Himalayan Balsam along Dartmoor’s rivers. Moor Otters funds are also paying for advice and specialist help to control American Skunk Cabbage at sites of high wildlife value.
Project 3 – Repairs to Erosion. Many popular footpaths have suffered from damage caused by heavy use compounded by heavy rainfall. Moor Otter funding means repairs and construction of alternative routes are possible on the paths to Wistmans Wood, between Postbridge and Grey Wethers, on the Abbots Way above Avon Dam, near Laughter Hole, and on the Two Moors Way above Bennetts Cross.