Great Shiplock Park/Chapel Island Study Area
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Study area summary
The Great Shiplock Park/Chapel Island study area includes approximately 11.4 acres of park land and was divided into four management units of various sizes. The lead organization for the baseline study of this park section was the James River Association. The task force field team in this study area identified a total of 18 invasive plant species across all management units, including:
- 8 species ranked with high invasiveness;
- 7 species ranked with medium invasiveness; and,
- 3 species ranked with low invasiveness.
Nearly all management units were observed with greater than 75 percent cover (Cover Class 5) of invasive plants, and each had a prevalence of highly invasive shrubs and vines. Management Unit 1 was slightly different that other management units, in that Amur honeysuckle and English ivy were the two primary components of the invasive plant community. In Management Unit 2, 3 and 4, Chinese privet and Japanese honeysuckle were the two primary components of the invasive plant community, in addition to occasional dominance of ground ivy and Japanese hop.
The native plant community in the Great Shiplock Park/Chapel Island study area includes native tree species typically found in JRPS floodplain communities. While limited information was gathered during the baseline study, tree species such as red maple, sweet gum, loblolly pine, willow oak, river birch, American sycamore, tulip tree, ironwood, and paw paw are all likely to exist within this section of park. Other native plants likely include spicebush, blackhaw, bladdernut, wingstem, Virginia creeper, deertongue, river oats, grapvines (Vitis spp.), greenbrier (Smilax spp.), and poison ivy.
Updates from the study area: Summer 2015 – Spring 2018
The James River Association and Capital Trees have been regularly leading volunteers to remove invasive species on Chapel Island, particularly Chinese Privet, Garlic Mustard, and Japanese Honeysuckle. Other species that have been a smaller focus include Japanese Hops, and English Ivy.
A lot of progress has been made in Management Unit 4 (eastern tip). This Unit contained dense thickets of Chinese Privet. After focused efforts, there are now only a few left and volunteers continue to monitor for Privet seedlings, pulling them while they are still small. Garlic Mustard was also thick in this Unit. Each April, volunteers have focused on pulling them before they go to seed, which has had a noticeable effect. Over the past year, the team has noticed a great decline in the number of Garlic Mustard seedlings.
Another area that has been a focus since 2017 is in Management Unit 3. Chinese Privet is very thick across the island, and the team has made great progress in one area where you can visit and see the old stumps. To see this area, take a right after you cross over the bridge to the island and continue to follow up the upper trail along the rail line. Soon you’ll come to an area that opens up to your left with stumps. This is the spot!
In each of the areas where invasives have been removed, native plants have been planted. Some of the species planted include Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), River Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Winterberry (Itea virginica), False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Hazelnut (Corylus Americana), Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus), Maple Leaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)
We recommend taking a walk along the eastern side of the island and then walking along the trails towards the west. Pay attention to how different the environment is where the Privet is still the dominant species. There are work days at Chapel Island every 4th Monday from 1-3pm. Visit the James River Park System Calendar for dates and to register.