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Friends of the
James River Park
February 2015 - In This Issue:
2015 masthead

For more than 19 years, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has been the definitive regional guide to outdoor sports, health, and adventure travel in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

In its annual Best of the Blue Ridge contest, readers vote for their favorite destinations in categories as diverse as music festivals and hiking trails. After four weeks and over 5,000 votes, the final results are in: JRPS took top honors for Best Urban Park and was a runner-up in the Outdoor Scene category.

In the January 2015 edition of the magazine highlighting the winners, the JRPS was described as "the ultimate multisport, urban life adventure, Richmond's James River Park trumps all."

Read the complete article at:
rw river hero logo

In 2011, the Friends of the James River Park launched the River Heroes Award to acknowledge and honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to JRPS. This year we are changing the name of this award to the Ralph White River Hero Award to honor former Park Manager Ralph White, one of the 2014 River Hero Award recipients.

Do you know someone you think should be recognized for their work to preserve, educate, or promote the JRPS? Now is the time to nominate them for this prestigious accolade.

For information about this award, past winners, and how to nominate someone, go to Deadline for nominations for this year's awards is March 2, 2015. Questions may be addressed to: [email protected].

And plan to join us at VCU Rice Center on April 30 for the award presentation!

"It is critical that we have a strong plan that will guide the use of the river while also making sure we protect what makes the rivers so special," said Bill Street, chief executive officer of the James River Association and chairman of the James River work group for the Capital Region Collaborative, an initiative of the Greater Richmond Chamber and the regional planning district that has made promoting the James one of its priorities. He added, "We are ready to move forward with a Rivers Plan."

In fact, the James River Association has raised $100,000 to pay for the development of a regional plan, which will focus not only on the James River, but also on the Appomattox, the Chickahominy, and the Pamunkey rivers. Protecting and promoting these four rivers is the goal of the plan, which will be created by the Timmons Group and 3north Architects, working with representatives of the nine localities in the region.  

The funding will come from Altria, the MeadWestvaco Foundation, the Community Foundation, and the Cameron Foundation, based in Petersburg. "Connecting communities to the river has become a significant part of our job," said Street. "We see it as critical to future stewardship of the river."

The James River Association also plans to conduct a region-wide contest to develop a unifying theme for the plan. Read additional coverage in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Looking for a way to customize your car? A JRPS license plate looks good on every vehicle and lets you shout-out your support when driving or parked. And $15 of every plate purchase goes directly to fund the park. It is the perfect accessory for drivers who can't resist expressing their love for our urban wilderness.


To purchase a plate go to: 


And remember, for you Amazon shoppers, start your purchase with  (make sure to designate your support for Friends of the James River Park), and Amazon will donate a percentage of what you spend to FoJRP.  



Every summer over 150 young men and women come to live and work in Virginia State Parks as part of the three-week Youth Conservation Corps program. The crews install benches on trails, build campground pads, or paddle down the river cleaning up litter.

When they're finished with the work day, they participate in different interpretive events. One crew may go spelunking in one of Virginia's many caves while another crew may learn bouldering skills with Bouldering 101 at Grayson Highlands.


If the interpretive events aren't enough fun, the crews then spend their weekends Adventure Training, which may include horseback riding at New River Trail State Park or zip-lining at Shenandoah River State Park.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is currently accepting crew member applications for the 2015 YCC program (
online only at

Crew members must be ages 14-17 and have not graduated from high school by the start of the program. Applicants are required to submit two references (names and emails) with their applications. The application deadline is April 15, 2015. 


Pony Pasture Rapids     


One of the most popular spots in the JRPS, Pony Pasture Rapids receives almost a quarter of a million visitors annually. The main entrance is located off Riverside Drive two miles east of the Huguenot Bridge. This entrance has the largest parking lot in the JRPS, with space for 80 cars. Still, on nice days it can be difficult to find a parking spot. Be prepared to wait in line or find an alternate method of travel to the park (bike, walk, carpool).

Possibly the biggest attraction to Pony Pasture is the rapids. Rated at class II, the rapids are part of the James River's main channel. With the aid of park volunteers and funding from area recycling projects, the JRPS built steps that lead directly into the river and are fully equipped with a canoe launch, also suitable for kayaks and rafts. While most people swim and play in the rapids or sunbathe on the rocks, there is much more to do in this outdoor gem.

There are miles of trails in the park, offering views of the river, inland meadows, wildlife and a wide variety of trees. The main trails are gravel and are good for trail runners and cyclists. Along the banks you find fishermen. Other frequent visitors are birdwatchers and dog walkers. This park also connects to The Wetlands park, located just to the east of Pony Pasture.

All of this could have been lost if not for the actions of local citizens Louise Burke and
Dr. R. B. Young who in 1966 formed the Scenic James Council to oppose a proposed highway along the south side of the James.  In 1967 they hosted a "Farewell to the River" hike for a Girl Scout troop and a newspaper reporter. Resulting publicity galvanized public support to protect the natural beauty of the property that became the Pony Pasture Rapids and Huguenot Flatwater portions of the Park.  


The JRPS preserves wildlife, improves the environment, and honors Richmond's history. There is industrial history, like at Belle Isle. There is Civil War history. Railroad history. Native American history. Batteaux history. Play at the parks, but don't destroy them. Don't take rocks or wood or anything else that belongs there. Leave it for the next person to see and appreciate. Leave it for yourself, for the next time you visit the park.

February Volunteer Day

22nd Street | Saturday, February 14, 9:00 am until noon.

Love for the Park? Then show it this Valentine's Day by spending some of your time caring for it. The morning of February 14 we will be at the 22nd Street entrance and cleaning out invasive species and trash where Buttermilk Trail East is being built. Registration is required through HandsOn Richmond at:  


Conservation Easement Inspection help requested  

In February of each year the FoJRP volunteers are required to walk through the areas of the park protected by the conservation easement. This is to ensure there has been no encroachment into the protected areas and is required to keep the easement enforced. It also provides a great excuse to enjoy a quiet afternoon in one of our favorite places. We are looking for volunteers to help. If you are interested in turning a nice walk into a meaningful activity that helps to protect the park contact: [email protected].


Typing Help Needed

The Friends have a number of park pamplets that need to be keystroked and saved as Word documents so they can reproduced in e-book format. If you are interested in helping get this information from printed page to digital document please contact: [email protected].  


RVA Environmental Film Festival | February 2-8
Local organizations partner to present the Fifth ourth Annual RVA Environmental Film Fest at UR, VCU's Grace Street Theater, the Visual Arts Center, the Byrd Theater, Science Museum of Virginia, as well as Richmond and Henrico public libraries. The festival will showcase local and national films selected to raise awareness of environmental issues relevant to our region, our nation, and our planet. As with last year, all of the festival's events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of films, trailers, and events, visit:

Attract Birds to your Garden with Food-Producing Plants | February 11  

This seminar by Chesterfield Master Gardeners will teach you how to plant to attract many of the fascinating bird species that will pass up feeders for fruiting plants. 6:00 until 8:00 p.m., Central Chesterfield Library, 9501 Lori Rd, free. 804-751-4401.

Your Health and Climate Change | February 12

Lecture by retired physician and member of the Citizens Climate Lobby William Nelson. Presented by the Shepherd's Center of Richmond. 12:30 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 4602 Cary St, free. More information at:

Celebrate Chinese New Year at Agecroft Hall: Special Focus Tour | February 19

It's the year of the goat and in honor of Chinese New Year's Day special tours of Agecroft Hall's collection of Chinese porcelain are are being offered at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tours are co-led by knowledgeable guide Tracy Herman and the manager of collections, Libby Howlett. Reservations and advanced payment are appreciated, but not required. Price: $8.00 per person, free for Agecroft Hall Annual Pass holders. Agecroft Hall, 4305 Sulgrave Rd. For more information, contact Katie Reynolds at [email protected] or 804-353-4241.

Prothonotary Warblers and Build-a-Nest Box | February 19

Master bird bander Bob Reilly will give an update on activities at Dutch Gap. You will have a chance to assemble some nest boxes to help these "Golden Swamp Warblers" when they return to Dutch Gap this spring to breed. $15 donation, St. Luke Lutheran Church, 7757 Chippenham Pkwy. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. with coffee and dessert starting at 6:30.  


Flight of the Butterflies |  through March 13
The Science Museum of Virginia presents the 2012 Canadian documentary film about zoologist Fred Urquhart's scientific investigation of monarch butterflies, a film directed and co-written by Mike Slee starring Megan Follows, Gordon Pinsent and Shaun Benson. Mondays-Sundays, 12-12:45 p.m., $9. 2500 W. Broad St.
Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure | through March 22
A global overview of the ways existing structures, systems and surfaces of cities around the world are being redesigned. Virginia Center for Architecture, 2501 Monument Ave. 804-644-3041.
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.