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



The James River Park System has received yet another well-deserved accolade, this time from retailer REI (Recreational Equipment Inc.), which declared that our wonderful woods, shoreline, and islands comprise one of the six best river parks in the U.S. This park system is a major contributor to our regional economic well-being as well as to the physical and mental health of our residents. Read all about it at: 

For a little perspective, bear in mind that forty years ago the state of Virginia closed a Hopewell business that had been polluting the James River with Kepone and that most people shied away from the river due to various sources of pollution. Today the river is in much better shape, though there is room for improvement. A Richmond Times Dispatch article zeroes in on the small urban streams whose health we need to monitor in order to protect the James: .


Additionally, the James River Association has partnered with the JRPS, as well as Chesterfield and Richmond parks, to install 30 pet waste stations, with the goal of encouraging more of us dog owners to scoop that poop and keep that bacteria out of the James:


Those international bicycle races will be here in just a few weeks, and here are two articles about the progress the city has been making to improve and enhance our biking infrastructure and adjacent viewsheds.


Andy Thompson writes about the state of the Virginia Capital Trail:


Further, coming soon, thanks to CSX, Capital Trees, our fair city and other generous donors: the Low Line, a 5.5-acre project adjacent to the Capital Trail. This effort will beautify the land between Dock Street and the Kanawha Canal and the James River, provide storm water mitigation, educate (via signage) and inspire (via public art). Read more here:



Before you head to the JRPS, it wouldn't hurt to check out the website,, and remind yourself where it's safest to swim, kayak, tube, paddle board. But should something go amiss, it's consoling to know that Richmond's Fire Department has a special unit, the water rescue squad, that can come to your aid. Here's an informative piece about this group:


If you're down in the dumps, take an aimless walk: your brain cells will increase, the ones you already have will function better and all this will transpire without medication. Walking this way even 10 minutes a day will make you more creative, as your brain is able to pick up more information. But leave those screens at home. Read more here:


And do we need to add that the James River Park is an ideal location to do this?


Meet EnviroAtlas, a collaborative project developed by the Environmental Protection Agency in cooperation with other government agencies. These interactive tools and resources enable internet users to learn more about "ecosystem services," the benefits nature provides for our well-being:

Main Area

The largest and least developed section in the JPRS, the 2.6-mile long Main Area extends from the iconic railroad bridge near the Powhite Bridge to the Manchester Climbing Wall and lies between the river and Riverside Drive. This heavily wooded section includes near-shore islands, side channels, great outcroppings of rocks where you can jump across to Belle Isle, side trails to the shore, the Buttermilk East and Buttermilk Proper trails, meadows, a bug garden next to park headquarters, wetlands, rapids, a kayak and canoe takeout, and a service road giving access to Belle Isle. Wildlife is abundant, the nooks and crannies allow for more secluded river experiences, and remnants of the past, such as part of a small canal lock and old mill foundations, are present. There are three entrances with parking lots off Riverside Drive at 43rd Street, Reedy Creek and 21st/22nd Streets.



In January a local volunteer organization -- Richmond Tree Stewards -- began a campaign to remove invasive species from areas of Belle Isle, the most visited section of the JRPS. The Stewards have just received a $15,000 grant from the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources, to plant native trees and shrubs in those areas. The grant will help to restore habitat as well as to educate us laypersons about environmental stewardship.


Thanks to the video production skills of Max Posner,  VP of the James River Outdoor Coalition, JRPS has a new public service announcement, featuring Nathan Burrell, that highlights the importance of not leaving trash behind in the park. Posner's and Burrell's motivation is simple: "We are trying to get this message out to the residents of Richmond in an effort to spread the word about keeping the park clean, because we've noticed, along with park staff, that so much trash is being left in the park this summer," said Posner. 


To watch the PSA go to: And please pack out what you pack in to the James River Park System.



James River Regional Cleanup | Saturday, September 12, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Sponsored by JRAC, this annual event is open to individuals, families, groups, boaters and paddlers! Bring water and gloves and wear closed-toe shoes. Registrants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult to sign the liability form. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m.; clean-up begins at 9; lunch is served from noon to 1:00 p.m. Advance registration here:


Any Day

If you're a DIY type, the James River Association (JRA) has a deal for you: self-directed trash cleanups. You (alone or with a group) go to their map, pick a site, select a date, fill out an online form; they contact you to pick up the supplies they loan you; you do the cleanup; JRA picks up the trash bags in the collection area; and you return your supplies and cleanup report to JRA at their office near Rocketts Landing. A perfectly organized way to volunteer!

To get involved: [email protected] or call Amber Ellis at 804 788 8811, ext. 205.


Any Saturday

Almost any Saturday you have free time, you can help keep the James River watershed clean by going to and finding a location that needs your strong back and warm heart.  



iNaturalist Workshop | August 8, 9 a.m. to noon (rain date August 9)

Naturalist Paul Bedell will show you how to join the JRPS iNat project, as you photograph plants and animals within the park and then post the images to the website. Bring a camera or iPhone, laptop, field guides, binoculars. Register in advance with Anne Wright at [email protected]. JRPS Headquarters, Reedy Creek, 4001 Riverside Dr., 23225.


Find Your Park | August 12, 7 p.m.

Are you new to the area or just curious about the various outdoor recreation opportunities available in your backyard? REI is holding an informational presentation highlighting local parks. Join JRPS staff and others to discover the best spots to recreate locally along with the first-hand knowledge you will need to enjoy your time on the trails. REI, 2020 Old Brick Rd, Glen Allen, 23060. Register on:

Playing on the James | August 19, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
A fun day for youths ages 12 to 17 to explore the James River safely by sampling kayaking and learning with certified instructors. Wear swim attire and shoes that can get wet. Bring a towel and sunscreen. Henricus Historical Park, 251 Henricus Park Rd., Chester, VA 23836. Free. Please register by August 14 by sending (1) name (2) number of youth participants (3) phone number (4) email address to: [email protected] or call 804-717-6199.


Bicycles: Shaping Our Past, Influencing Our Future | August 20, 7-9 p.m.

Given all the trail riders in Richmond, not to mention the upcoming UCI races, here is a timely presentation. Discover how the bicycle has influenced Richmond's design and culture. From the "Missing Link Trail," to the influence that bicycle commuters have on today's roads, travel through more than 100 years of the bicycle's history and future in Richmond. Hear from author Tom Houff and urban planner and engineer Andy Boenau.

Advance reservations are recommended, as spaces are limited. Branch Museum of Architecture and Design, 2501 Monument Ave., Richmond 23220. $15, $10 for members: register at

In addition, the Branch Museum is hosting the exhibit Balance in Motion: The Evolution of Cycling in America, from July 30 through October 18. Free.Tuesday-Friday, 10-5; Saturday and Sunday, 1-5.


River Cruises

If you miss the Annabel Lee, you'll be glad to hear that The City of Fredericksburg, a 75-foot vintage paddle-wheel boat, is now providing cruises on the James, leaving from 3101 Wharf St., Richmond 23223. Lunch tours, Tues.-Sat., noon to 2:20 p.m.; dinner tours, Tues.-Thurs., 6-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat., 7-10 p.m.; Sunday brunch tours, 1-4 p.m. Adults: $35-$55; children 13 & younger, $20-$33. Meals included. Cash bar. For more information, go to


JRPS Adventure Recreation Program | times vary throughout the summer

Registration is required. For questions concerning the JRPS Adventure Recreation Program or to register, contact Penelope Davenport at [email protected].


Trail Running

Explore the Main Area of James River Park when the warm weather's at its best: early in the morning. All fitness and ability levels are welcome for these conversation-paced trail runs. Free, Wednesdays and Fridays, 6:00-7:00 a.m. Meet at the Reedy Creek parking lot.


Salamander Salutations: 

Do something good for yourself. Do something good for the park that you love. Learn some new stretches, bask in the sun, make new friends, and pick up a few pieces of trash. We're calling this young-adult event "salamander salutations" as a nod to the sun salutations that inspire us, and as tribute to the Friends' mascot, the spotted salamander that inhabits James River Park. $5 suggested donation, Tuesdays, 5:00-6:00 p.m. Meet at the Tredegar parking lot.


Friday Evening Climbs: 

Geared toward young adults and the young at heart, these evenings provide top-rope climbing routes, basic instruction, and all the equipment you need in a relaxed and social atmosphere. Pricing from $20 to $80 based on residency and number of sessions attended. Fridays, 5:00-8:00 p.m. Meet at the Manchester Climbing Wall.


Frog's Eye Tour: 

Come snorkel, swim, and giggle in the water as we learn about the James River Park at the level of all our water friends. Please bring water, snacks and dress to be in the river. Sneakers or other closed-toe shoes are required. $10 city residents, $30 non-city residents, August 15th, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.


Paddle and Potluck Picnic: 

Canoe the flatwater stretches of the upper James River. Swim, snorkel and share delicious treats in a secret location! Please bring water and a picnic dish to share, and please let us know of any food allergies when you register. $15 city residents, $35 non-city residents, August 22nd. Price includes canoe package rentals and a guided tour of the James. 

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.