The £247,000 secured through Defra’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for nature projects, alongside £350,000 raised by dedicated members of the Friends of Porter Valley over many years, will go towards desilting the dam itself, restoring access paths, and trying to boost wildlife.
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns footfall in the area increased significantly and has made the restoration project even more vital as access paths have become ‘battered.’
Ann le Sage, chairman of the Friends of Porter Valley, told the Sheffield Telegraph: "We’re excited to get things moving. We now have the capability of doing all the things that we are planning and dealing with unexpected things that may crop up.
“We have got capability for doing things on the landscape, ecology, and wildlife. It’s all good news.
“Fingers crossed we can make improvements to the access paths which are so much more battered since Covid.
"There were about 500,000 visitors a year 10 years ago, now there’s much more than that. Last weekend people were coming here from other parts of England and the world.”
A public petition in 2010 made Sheffield Council aware of the poor state of Forge Dam and fundraising restoration began in 2012. Other improvements have taken place since. In January this year the council approved the restoration plans and work on desilting the dam is to start in October.
Ann added: “We will have a public consultation over summer. People wanted us to maintain the dam island, so we are making it smaller so that it doesn’t silt up.
“We want to salvage the aquatic plants. We are trying to let more light in. “We want to attract new species, having water voles would be wonderful but it’s not easy. The hope is this work will help biodiversity.
“We don’t want to disturb the peace of the area. Work on the dam will take place during the day and not weekends.”
Coun Alison Teal, Executive Member for Sustainable Neighbourhoods, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure said: “We are delighted about the announcement of this funding and we look forward to working together to achieve all of these improvements.
"Ponds provide some of our earliest & most iconic nature experiences - feeding ducks, or glimpsing a kingfisher and yet are one of our most threatened habitats.
"This project will deliver benefits for people and wildlife and show how access to our precious blue-green spaces can support both our physical and mental well-being.”