2015 Ralph White River Hero Award
The 2015 Ralph White River Heroes were celebrated on April 30 at the Rice Center. A selection committee composed of community leaders worked to select this year's heroes. The 2015 winners are:
- Anne Wright -- Biologist and educator who has volunteered for the park for over a decade.
- Scott Turner -- Founder and owner of Riverside Outfitters and True Timber.
- Dennis Bussey -- Founder and organizer of the James River Hikers meet-up group.
Ralph White was on hand to deliver the awards which were re-named in his honor this year. In addition, attendees of the event had the opportunity to taste Legend Brewery's new Z-Dam Ale before it went on sale to the general public.
Nominations for next year's River Heroes awards will begin in February, so start thinking now of who would be a great award recipient!
Science in the Park
iNaturalist Project -- Join the Team
The Science in the Park section includes a new iNaturalist Project. You don't have to be an expert to be an iNaturalist, a person who photographs and records the plants and animals in the JRPS.
If you want to be part of this great scientific effort, please come to the training at park headquarters, 4401 Riverside Dr., on Saturday, May 16 (May 17, rain date), 9 to noon, and bring a camera, cellphone, laptop, field guides and binoculars. Find out more.
Game Cameras Offer Exciting Footage of Park Wildlife
Otters, mink, raccoons and all variety of critters have been spotted in the James River Park System -- and you can watch them going about their daily and nightly routines! Check out the new Game Camera Project. And, read the Richmond Times Dispatch article about the project:
- Cameras record the often hidden lives of wildlife
- And find out more about the creatures that live in the park.
Almost any Saturday you have free time, you can help keep the James River watershed clean by going to www.meetup.com/RVA-Clean-Sweep and finding a location that needs your strong back and warm heart.
27th Clean the Bay Day | Saturday, June 6, 9 to noon
This is a massive annual effort to clean streams and shorelines all over the bay's watershed. Richmonders will meet at Reedy Creek, 4401 Riverside Dr., 23225. It's best to register online, and parental permission forms are required for those volunteers who are under 18. Dress appropriately, consider the need for sunscreen and/or bug spray, and bring work gloves if you have them. Note that there are separate registration forms for boaters and for the rest of us. cbf.org/events/clean-the-bay-day
Events in and around and for the Park
Dominion Riverrock | May 15-17
Organized by Venture Richmond and the Sports Backers, the nation's largest outdoor sports and music festival brings athletes, spectators, musicians, and dogs together on Brown's Island for a three-day high-energy event. The outdoor sports include trail running, kayaking, biking, bouldering, slacklining, stand-up paddleboarding, and dog jumping. Vendors of sporting goods -- in addition to vendors of food and beverages -- as well as non-profit groups will also be on hand. Free to spectators. This event made the "Ten for the Road" list in AAA World. Visit dominionriverrock.com for more info.
FoJRP Annual Members Picnic | June 13, 6 to 8 p.m.
This annual picnic at the Pumphouse Park is a relaxed celebration giving members the chance to mingle, listen to some great music and eat! Please bring a covered dish and a chair to sit in; fried chicken and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. Our treasurer will be available should you wish to join or renew your membership on-site. 1627 Pump House Dr., 23221. And if you haven't been to the Pumphouse Park before, take a video tour: www.richmondoutside.com/videos/tour-pumphouse-park/.
Virginia Currents Explores the JRPS
Visit a few lesser known “treasure islands” off the James with James River Parks Superintendent Nathan Burrell in this March 2015 episode of PBS's Virginia Currents.
Watch the episode at ideastations.org.
21st Street Renovations
Stewart HG has been contracted to redevelop the area leading to the 21st Street tower alongside Riverside Drive. Improvements include the removal of the defunct shelter next to the street, defined stepping-stone pathways, a bike repair station, and bike parking. In addition, the site plan includes rain gardens filled with native plant species to reduce maintenance while beautifying the area.
The $90,000 worth of improvements is funded by a grant from Altria tied to the 2015 UCI Road World Championships and provided to the city by the James River Association. This work is scheduled to start imminently and should be completed by May 1st. During the construction period, access to the tower will be restricted to the easternmost path that connects to the head of the tower from Riverside Drive.
James River Hikers Work Throughout the Park
The James River Hikers recently installed a boardwalk at Texas Beach, with supplies brought there via a batteau. Later the group added a few feet to the boardwalk to help folks keep their feet out of the mud.
Additionally, the Hikers have been replacing boardwalks and bridges at Pony Pasture and have made a remarkable difference at Pumphouse Park, having cleared underbrush adjacent to canals and painted structures. The Washington Arch, part of one canal, is now visible from both sides -- a major improvement. For more about this group, go to www.meetup.com/James-River-Hikers.
Reedy Creek Water Fountain
If you frequent the park's main area at Reedy Creek, you will have seen the new water fountain installed next to the parking lot, just in time for the warm weather. James River Outdoor Coalition dedicated this wonderful park addition to the memory of Greg Hawkins, who mentored many people in outdoor activities. There are spigots for your mouth, your dog's mouth, and your water bottle.
Buttermilk Trail Extended
Members of rvaMORE and other volunteers have been hard at work building Buttermilk East, a new trail heading east from the 22nd Street tower and continuing east toward the Lee Bridge, with the ultimate goal of connecting to the Floodwall. Expanding our urban trails and greenway!
JROC Builds Stairs at Texas Beach Access
Our friends at the James River Outdoor Coalition (JROC) have been busy building, at which they are expert. Using REI grant funds for the materials, JROC members have constructed a new stairway access to the Northbank Trail from the Texas Beach parking lot. These stairs replace a very steep, slippery, eroding slope that's a crucial connection to the Northbank Trail. You can find them on your next JRPS hiking adventure, heading east from the parking lot, just before the bridge over the train tracks.
Science in the Park Video in RVA Environmental Film Festival
The latest Science in the Park video on blueback herring and American shad spawning in our great river was a runner up selection in the 2015 RVA Environmental Film Festival and was shown on the big screen in Feburary.
Choose Your Adventure: Belle Isle
The infrared park counters have confirmed what most of us had suspected: Belle Isle is the park's most popular site, attracting people of all ages to walk, bike, sunbathe on the rocks, fish at the quarry, climb a granite wall, and more.
Back in the day, we could only get there by hopping rocks from the river's south side. In 1988 a pedestrian suspension bridge under the Robert E. Lee Bridge was added, providing greater access, although parking around Tredegar Street continues to be a problem.
Due to the rapids around the island, swimming is not advisable although it's possible to wade at the western end. A few years ago, a bicycle skills area was added. The island is replete with interpretive signs because it has a rich history: Captain John Smith first explored it in the early 17th century, and it has contained a fishery, nail factory, a notorious prison for Union soldiers, and a hydroelectric plant, among other buildings and activities. The popular Passages summer camp for children takes place there, as well.
See all in the Choose Your Adventure series.
JRPS license plates, matching gifts and AmazonSmile -- 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!
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.
FOJRP registered with AmazonSmile
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support FOJRP. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you'll find the exact same shopping experience you get on Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate .5% of eligible purchases to an organization you select.
Simply go to smile.amazon.com, and on your first visit you will be prompted to select a charity. Select Friends of the James River Park, then shop!
Watch it! Check out these Science in the Park videos.
T-shirts and pamphlets for sale!
Our snazzy t-shirts and FOJRP interpretive pamphlets are available to purchase online. Order yours today!
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.
Stay on the Trails Please!
With so many bikers, joggers, hikers and dog walkers in the park, the trails get a lot of use. Winter freeze and spring rains make them vulnerable to erosion and long-term damage. When there are puddles on your route it can be tempting to go around them. Realize that, by widening the path, you are adding to trail erosion and destruction of vegetation ... creating problems.
The trails are maintained by park staff and volunteers who work to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation and the need to maintain healthy ecosystems. Become aware how your use impacts the park and TREAD LIGHTLY!
Protection and Preservation Fund
A special thank you to all who donate to our long-term fund. See our growing list.
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.