PEOPLE who helped to design a wildlife haven saw the results for the first time at the weekend -including a wooden sculpture of a crocodile.

A fun day on Saturday launched two environmental projects near a dam built to protect West Auckland from flooding. The Spring Gardens Wetland and the Haggerleases Railway Path link West Auckland with the tiny community of Ramshaw. There are plans to extend the route west to Barnard Castle.

Saturday's community festival celebrating the opening was held on the anniversary of the opening of the Haggerleases branch line of the Stockton and Darlington railway, which operated from 1930 to 1968.

Residents of the Gaunless Valley communities contributed ideas for the wetland, and are being urged to record and report sightings of birds and animals moving into the area, which could include skylarks, water voles and toads.

The habitat includes wet woodland, ponds, reedbeds and flower meadows with a nature trail running through it.

The Environment Agency created the wetlands while Durham County Council's Countryside Group manages the 2.4km path, which can also be used by horses, pushchairs, wheelchairs and cyclists.

Hazel White, from the agency, said: "People can see what their efforts have produced. They have been involved all the way through by contributing their ideas, photographs and stories."

The scheme has been given more than £90,000 by the Heritgate Lottery Fund.