Friends monthly volunteer event scheduled
Please plan to join us on Saturday, March 15! Volunteers will be removing invasive species, planting natives, painting existing park structures and doing a trash clean up along Riverside Drive. Learn more and register!
James River Sturgeon Film wins first place!
Congratulations to Melissa Lesh, whose film James River Sturgeon has one first place in the Fourth Annual RVA Environmental Film Festival! As first place winner, Lesh receives $1,000. Lesh's film is part of the Science in the Park section on this website.
Zip line proposal threathens Conservation Easement
Are you aware that a California company wants to put a zip line across the James? Sounds exciting, at least at first. But as we consider the full impact this venture would have on our natural and protected wilderness park, we realize the following:
- there would be towers marring our skyline and our land and
- the development would violate the Conservation Easement protecting the wilderness that characterizes most of the James River Park System.
Although a zip line could be exciting and cool, it must be sited in another location -- and not in our Park System. The mission of the Friends is to protect the JRPS. The Conservation Easement documentation calls our Park "unique, environmentally sensitive, immensely popular and invaluable to the character of the City," but also "vulnerable to misuse."
The JRPS' location in downtown Richmond makes it especially appealing to developers intent on capitalizing on the renewed interest in the downtown area. Without the protection that conservation easements offer, these properties could be lost forever.
Please stand firm with the Friends of the James River Park System on this issue. For more information, read John Zeungner's letter which explains the Concervation Easement and why we are opposed to the zip line.
Ode to the wetlands ... a student essay
Helen Dawson captures the beauty of the park in autumn.
The best time of year is the fall. The leaves and broken twigs crackle under my old, mud-caked sneakers that I only wear to come here. The James River is a natural split right through the City of Richmond, Virginia. It creates a myriad of parks and riverside trails to get lost in. There is one certain park that I find the most inviting. For years I have left footprints in the paths of this wetlands park bordering the river, following behind the wagging tail of a happy dog spoiled by the luxuries of this vast river park.
Today I decide to take the time to get lost in the leaves that are bright orange and red, except for those few that are still hanging on to the green color of summer. It might seem impossible to lose myself in trails I have walked for years, but I turn myself around, finding new paths and turns to take that I have never explored. I take a quick look around corners of trees that make a maze of paths. Soon my feet follow my gaze and trample down new trails. As I wander into the nature of this isolated wetlands park in the middle of an urban center I become more appreciative with every step. It’s a place to think, to sing at the top of your lungs, a place to meet new people and a wonderful place to get lost.
Park leader, peace maker and occasional art critic
New manager knows well the beauty and potential of James River Park
Nathan Burrell has big shoes to fill. But he’s not worried about his footwear. In April, Burrell took over leadership of Richmond’s James River Park from Ralph White, the wildly popular manager who retired in January after 33 years.
Science in the Park in the News
Science in the Park: VCU teams with community partners to launch website about the science in James River parks
Monday, Oct. 28, 2013: Whether it is by hopping on a bike and riding up and down rugged trails, heading onto the water for some rafting or taking a stroll in search of spring warblers, eagles and herons, the parks along the James River offer plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors.
Read the complete article at VCU.edu
Fairy Shrimp Video Selected for Science Film Festival
Last spring VCU Professor and Friends Board Member, Anne Wright, made an important discovery in the vernal pools of Pony Pasture -- fairy shrimp! Wright and her colleague Melissa Lesh developed a video to document the discovery for the JRPS. The video, narrated by past park manager Ralph White, has been selected to be in the 6th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival in New York City! Screening was on Oct. 18, 2013.
Director and Editor: Melissa Lesh
Producer and Co-director: Anne Wright
Script Writer and Narrator: Ralph White
See more at the Film Festival website. Watch the video as part of a new section of the James River Park website -- Science in the Park!
More about Fairy Shrimp
Fairy shrimp are iconic members of vernal (spring) pools and require these fragile bodies of water to complete their life cycle. They are harbingers of the life and health of our park system. When found in a water body, as ours were by
Prof. Wright, that water body can be considered to be a functional vernal pool.
Until now, we were not aware of the presence of fairy shrimp within the City of Richmond. So, we're talkin' cool urban fairy shrimp here! Their discovery means the waters of our park system are more biologically diverse than previously thought! We've got spotted and marbled salamanders and now, urban fairy shrimp! Three obligate species are still surviving in the heart of the city. Pretty cool!
Chapel Island ready to explore
Chapel Island, which is city property and accessible from the Great Shiplock Park section of the James River Park System and adjacent to the Capital to Capital Bicycle Trail, adds so much to Richmond's robust urban park system.
FOJRP is proud to be part of a project that has opened river access of what is now an underused area to underserved communities. River access at Chapel Island offers health benefits, wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, walking, paddling and other environmentally friendly activities to a wider community.
Technology Takes Over the Park
It's an exciting time to be a park visitor, even for those of us who can't let go of our smartphones. Thanks to several individuals and local groups, there are three new ways to engage with the park using technology.
ONE: FoJRP member David Roop recently launched the James River App, which is a helpful guide to river conditions and locations along the James River in Richmond, VA. It offers river water levels and temperatures updated from the USGS and maps the entrances ot the James River. Available for both Android and Apple.
TWO: Looking for new friends to join you in exploring the JRPS? Look no further than Outdoorsy, another new app (iPhone only) that lets users create profiles, meet other park visitors, and sign up for park-oriented non-public events (think yoga, trail running and biking -- all hosted by JRPS visitors). Read the Times-Dispatch article.
THREE: Finally, our very own Board Member and VCU Prof. Anne Wright has created two geology tours of the park that you will be able to access from our brand new Science in the Park section -- coming soon!
Field Guide for Springtime at the James River
Tracy Brockwell is an environmental educator, and coincidentally the "first lady" of James River Park (she's married to Nathan Burrell). She has been working with a group of students for the past year to produce a field guide for Springtime at the James River.
All of the programs the guide supports have been held in the city at various parks and sites along the river and surrounding areas, and each child participant receives a copy of the book. Books are also available to the public from the online publisher, Blurb, with ALL profits going to Friends of James River Park.
The book will be dedicated to Ralph White for his amazing lifetime of service to James River Park. The children suggested any proceeds raised go to native plant restoration.
Water Fountains planned for park locations
Both humans and their K9 companions soon will be able to quench their thirst in style, as watering holes are planned for THREE Park locations, Reedy Creek, North Bank and Great Shiplock! The fountains will include handicapped access, a spigot and bowl for dogs, and a way to fill water bottles. Thanks to generous gifts from JROC, Bank of America and FoJRP, it will provide much-needed refreshment for all park users.
Look for installation of the fountain in early 2014. This will be a great amenity for the JRP!
JRPS license plates are available at DMV and making money for the park
James River Park license plates have now generated over $7,000 for the park! To order yours, check out the DMV Specialty License Plate section!
And remember ...
If you're making a donation to the FOJRP, consider asking your employer to match your gift. Many local businesses are happy to support Richmond's wonderful park system. All gifts and bequests are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law, and donors will receive a letter acknowledging their contributions; contributors to the Protection and Preservation Fund are also acknowledged on the FOJRP website.
Watch it! Check out these Science in the Park videos.
The river in winter
Whether there is snow on the ground or not, the James River Park is a winter wonderland. Look for the swans on the river and a red fox on the trail. You'll be surprised at who is still out and about in the cold. Photo by by Rich Young
T-shirts and pamphlets for sale!
Our snazzy t-shirts and FOJRP interpretive pamphlets are available to purchase online. Order yours today!
Memberships are also available online on our Be a Friend page. Thanks, as always, for your support!
Keep the park safe
If you see something out of the ordinary in the James River Park, please report it using the non-emergency police number:
Reportable things include problems in the park system (of natural or human origin) -- graffiti, large amounts of trash, trees down across main trails, fires of any sort, unruly behavior, etc.
If it is an emergency situation, please dial 911.
Do you Bicycle in the Park?
Did you know that pedestrians have the right of way on ALL trails in the Park, except those marked Bicycles Only? Please be courteous when passing walkers; if you have a bell, use it or call out, "on your left" or "on your right". It's common courtesy and will prevent those enjoying the Park from being forced off the trails. This is also critical behavior for Park Visitors tending their kids or their dogs.
Protection and Preservation Fund
A special thank you to all who donate to our long-term fund. See our growing list.
Spanish translation on site
Amigos del Rio offers Spanish-speaking and park-loving web visitors an overview of the Friends and useful information on two hot spots -- Belle Isle and Pony Pasture. And thanks to the help of VCU's CreateAThon, you'll see park signs in Spanish and may hear public service announcements in Spanish as well.
Our favorite line and sign: Take Pride. Éste es tu río.
Canine Friends of the Park
Probably some of the biggest fans of the park system are the dogs that walk the trails -- and they would want to keep the park clean too!
Read why it's important to pick up the poop and don't pollute! Catch up on other Canine news as well.