newsletter mast art
Friends of the
James River Park
April 2015 - In This Issue:



In 2011, the Friends of the James River Park launched the River Heroes Award to recognize individuals and organizations that have significantly contributed to the James River Park. This year we have renamed the award the Ralph White River Hero Award in honor of former Park Manager Ralph White, a 2014 River Hero recipient.


A committee of city leaders met on Monday, March 30, to determine this year's River Hero award recipients. The nominees are:

  • Janice Akers Marauta, "Human Adventures" hiking guide
  • Dennis Bussey, James River Hikers
  • Bob Jones, Photographer and owner of Jones Landing
  • Jay McLaughlin, Photographer and author of NEWFAZE Blog
  • Scott Turner, Riverside Outfitters
  • Anne Wright, VCU Biologist, Science in the Park creator, and educator

On April 30 at the Rice Center, the Friends will host an awards celebration for this year's honorees. We hope that you will plan to attend. For tickets and more information about the event, contact Kelly Gotschalk at [email protected].



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.

2015 earth day logo



RVA Earth Day, sponsored by Style Weekly, takes place from 12 to 7 in Manchester along Hull Street and benefits Feed RVA. Highlights include live music, river wildlife tours, an outdoor gear swap by James River Outdoor Coalition, food trucks, children's activities, local produce, and more. For details see:


The Enrichmond Foundation is hosting Earth Day Richmond at Great Shiplock Park, 2701 Dock Street, from 11-5. (There will be transportation to and from the 17th

Street Farmers' Market and a bike valet.) Their cornucopia includes local food and beverages, live music, art, exhibits, a children's area, riverfront activities--paddleboarding, kayaks, fishing, and more. The festival will extend along the Kanawha Canal and the Virginia Capital Trail. The Earth Day 5K Race will begin at 11. For details:  


Friends will be at the Earth Day Festival at Great Shiplock Park and would love to have volunteers help staff our booth. Shifts are 11:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m. and 2:00 til 5:00 p.m. If you'd like to assist us please send an e-mail ASAP to friends Many thanks! 



Let's get the bad news over with first: Although for a brief shining moment there were three pairs of nesting eagles within the Richmond city limits, one pair has fled the coop. See this for more details:


But even sadder, because that one pair may very well return to Stony Point next year, the Pipeline heron rookery is vacant. It's hard to believe that nesting colony only arrived there in 2007, given the pleasure it gave us. For additional commentary, read here:

mink science in park

This mink was photographed at the Pipeline Rapids section of James River Park.


Now for the good news: Led by VCU professor Anne Wright, a team of folks has been documenting the animals living within the James River Park System. Hidden video cameras and videos taken by park visitors have revealed that our wonderful park harbors river otters, beavers, muskrat, deer, mink, groundhogs, raccoons, red foxes, chipmunks, and who knows what else.


This effort is part of the Science in the Park project, and you can read more here:


In addition, Jay McLaughlin has undertaken the ambitious goal of cataloging all species-animal or plant-within the Pony Pasture Park. Check out and His larger website is also worth a look, with many photographs as well as accompanying text.



Last month we focused on construction of the Buttermilk East Trail and of the staircase at the North Bank Trail, two projects which were recently completed. Now we are thanking the James River Hikers, who 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


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. 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.

The Wetlands


The aptly named Wetlands Park, 3401 Landria Drive, is just downstream of the Pony Pasture and is bordered on the east by the Willow Oaks Country Club and to the south by Stratford Hills, a residential area.


There are only seven spaces for cars on Landria Drive, but this wooded, swampy parcel is an easy stroll from the Pony Pasture lot. Although the sandy beach provides some access to the water, it also affords a good view of Williams Island and the river.


The Wetlands include walking trails, a bird-watching shelter, a large meadow surrounded by swamp forest, and a shallow pond with wildlife viewing blinds. One of the three trails within this parcel follows the raised berm of the old quarry railroad, and three footbridges help to keep your feet dry!


April Volunteer Day 


Manchester Climbing Wall | Saturday, April 11, 9:00 a.m. until noon

This month's project sponsored by FoJRP is another trash cleanup at the Manchester climbing wall/future site of the dam walk. All volunteers should park behind the SunTrust Building located at 901 Semmes Ave. Park anywhere along that street where parking is permitted.


Staff member Matt Mason will meet volunteers at the street to escort them to the cleanup site. Supplies will be provided. Please register ahead of time at


And if that event has reached participation capacity, Manchester Alliance and RVA Clean Sweep--a meetup group--have several Manchester sites to clean starting at 9 a.m. on April 11, all designed to keep the James River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds clean. The sponsors will provide plastic bags, gloves, and safety vests. Read more and RSVP at this site:


Earth Day Volunteer Opportunity

The Friends would love to have some volunteers help staff our booth at the Earth Day event on Saturday, April 18, at Great Shiplock Park. Shifts are 11:00 a.m. til 2:00 p.m. and 2:00 til 5:00 p.m. If you are willing--and you'd surely have some time to wander around the other booths!--please send an e-mail ASAP to friends Many thanks!  



Mosquitoes: Life Cycle, Habitat, Threats & Benefits | April 8, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Sierra Club's Falls of the James Group hosts speaker Wes Robertson of Henrico Co.'s Standing Water Initiative, a program to reduce the possibility of mosquito-transmitted diseases. Jepson Alumni Center, Univ. of Richmond, 49 Crenshaw Way, 23221.

Last CBF Supper Club | April 9, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Chris Burkett, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, will talk about a collaborative plan to help Virginians keep species from becoming endangered. Whole Foods Market has generously donated the dinner. REI, 2020 Old Brick Road, Glen Allen, 23060. RSVP to Lori Kersting at [email protected].

Anniversary Celebration & Trailblazer Awards | April 10, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

John Woolard, Google's VP of Energy, headlines the Enrichmond Foundation's 25th anniversary event. Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad, 23220. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at

TEDxRVA | April 10, 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Among the many speakers is Ryan Abrahamsen, presenting on the intersection of technology and nature. He participated in the project by and the James River Assoc. to create a surface-level image map of the entire James River. Carpenter Theatre at Center Stage, 600 E. Grace. $50.

Leadership Academy Application Deadline | April 10

For this new year-long program, the James River Association is looking for 10th and 11th grade students who are committed to Virginia's natural resources.

Explore the Outdoors | April 19, 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Over 40 local community groups, including Friends of the James River Park, will offer science and nature activities to engage families at Huguenot Park and the studios of the Community Idea Stations, 10901 Robious Road. Free.


Biodiversity/Climate Symposium at UR | April 21, 12:30 p.m.

A symposium on how to protect the state's wildlife and natural areas from the threat of climate change will be held in the Ukrop Auditorium, Robins School of Business at the Univ. of Richmond. The keynote speaker, Healy Hamilton, is chief scientist at the international conservation nonprofit NatureServe in Washington. A leading researcher on the effects of global change on biodiversity, she will address the economic importance of natural systems for Virginia's future and the impact of climate change. The regular meeting of the Virginia Governor's Climate and Resiliency Commission follows immediately afterward at 2:30. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to [email protected] and you will receive parking information.


Whole Foods Donates 5% | Earth Day, April 22
Enjoy the music of the roots/Americana band The FREE Rangers while your purchases help support the Capital Region Land Conservancy, Central Virginia's only land trust. 11173 W. Broad St., Glen Allen.

Progress on Richmond's Riverfront, panel discussion | April 22, 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Hosted by Urban Land Institute, Richmond, with a panel that includes JRPS superintendent Nathan Burrell. Tredegar Iron Works, 500 Tredegar St., 23219. $10-$20. Register here by April 20:

Floodwall Five Miler | May 3, 9:00 a.m.

A James River Outdoor Coalition 5K that starts and ends at Legends Brewery, 321 W. 7th. $25 registration includes a brewery tour and tasting. All funds will benefit the park system.

Our Mission
The Friends of the James River Park is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization created by a dedicated group of citizens in 1999. Our mission is to provide an ongoing source of citizen support for the conservation, enhancement, and enjoyment of the 550-acre James River Park System and its natural and historic environments.