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



The Friends group is spearheading the development of the James River Park System Invasive Species Management Plan. Phase one of the plan is surveying and recording the type and location of invasive plant species to determine the relative abundance of these plants throughout the park.


If you are interested in participating in this field survey, there are two more one-hour training sessions this month for which you could sign up: July 11, 9:00 a.m. to 10 or 10 a.m. to 11. These mandatory sessions take place at the Reedy Creek Park Headquarters building (4001 Riverside Dr.). To sign up, please contact Nathan Burrell at [email protected].


We will be giving you more information about this project soon.

Red fox, panting in the heat....
Red fox, planting in the heat.


The Science in the Park team has been cataloging the biodiversity of species in the JRPS since the spring of 2014. Since many of the park animals are unwilling to parade themselves to humans during the day, this project has used special "game cameras" that capture videos when triggered remotely. On the James River website you can find some of these videos, as well as a list of the species so far recorded, including otters, raccoons, and mink.


A recent video features a young red fox, which is as affected by the recent Richmond temperatures as are we humans:



We've added improved functionality to the calendar on the JRPS website! The new calendar is accessible from your computer, laptop and smartphone. Additionally this new calendar allows several river organizations to post their activities. Keep up the fun year-round with this useful tool; it's your new go-to source!

Heading downstream from Pumphouse Park on the canal. Credit: Elli Morris

The JRPS and the Richmond Department of Public Utilities recently gave permission to Greg Velzy to escort some kayakers from Pump House Park to Texas Beach by way of the Kanawha Canal.


This voyage included Phil Riggan, whose VCU Master's degree project, Recreational Plan: James River and Kanawha Canal Blueway, is all about letting us paddle from downtown to Bosher's Dam.


There are some hurdles to clear to make this dream a reality, but in the meantime, if there's still room for the next Velzy-led canal trip on July 9, contact him at 804-748-1124.


Read more:

kirk richardson bike rack project
The bike racks are modeled on the shape of the Sibley tents used by the prisoners.

Kirk Richardson, who has taught a service-learning class at VCU that partners with the James River Park System, has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise funds for a series of four bike racks that will memorialize the Union soldiers who lived in the prisoner of war camp on Belle Isle from 1862 to 1865.  


Modeled on the shape of the Sibley tents in which the soldiers lived, the racks will change form through the series to express metaphorically the deteriorating conditions in the camp as the years went by.


Read more here and see how to donate:


Pipeline or Trestle Trail


Sadly, most of us know by now that the heron rookery visible from this overlook has been abandoned by its denizens. However, the pipeline still offers a grand view of the Pipeline Rapids, which are ranked as Class IV and are as much of a challenge as Hollywood Rapids.  


As well, nearby islands host nests of different species of birds. According to one blogger, nature writer Rex Springston has seen various migrating river species, including blue crab, from the pipeline. Although you can get there from the east end of Brown's Island, there are 7 parking spaces off South 12th St. From that parking lot, you walk to a metal ladder to descend to the metal catwalk atop the pipeline, which carries storm water to a holding tank located beyond the Mayo Bridge. Please pay attention to water levels for safety's sake. And maybe cock an eye at the CSX railway viaduct overhead. 



Thanks to a private/public funds partnership, the Enrichmond Foundation has enlisted the assistance of a herd of goats from the Afton, Virginia-based business Goat Busters to remove invasive plants in the following locations:

  • the Reedy Creek area of the JRPS
  • the Carillon
  • Byrd Park
  • Church Hill.


Two mountain dogs protect these peaceful ruminants as they go about their very valuable work. To read more, go to



Dutch Gap River Cleanup | July 11, 10 a.m.

Please meet at the Dutch Gap Boat Ramp, 411 Coxendale Rd., Chester, VA 23836. Contact: Lorne Fields, 804 748 1920.


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.   

Winner of the strangest item: a completely intact wedding cake topper



On June 6, volunteers picked up trash along streams and shorelines throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed for the annual Clean the Bay Day, sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.  


The group who met at Reedy Creek collected trash in the following areas: from the main area of JRPS, from the many boulders in the river, and from Belle Isle.


In all 19 bags of trash and 16 bags of recycling were collected for an approximate weight of 525 pounds, along with 10 pounds of unbagged items.


Thanks to all who participated in the annual event. 



This month you can attend a public meeting to give your view about ways to improve access to the region's rivers--the James, Appomattox, Chickahominy and Pamunkey--and to promote riverfront economic development. The meetings take place:

  • July 15, 6 p.m., at the Chimborazo Park Roundhouse, E. Grace St. at N. 36th St, Richmond
  • July 22, 6 p.m., at The Cameron Foundation, 228 S. Sycamore St., Petersburg.

To read more:



Arbor Day Benefit Concert | July 11, noon - 4 p.m.

Hosted by Earth Day Richmond and the Enrichmond Foundation, this event benefits the JRPS. With a $5 donation, you can enjoy music by Benjamin Shepherd, Avers, and Full Moon Fever; food and craft beers; trails; and tours of the Pump House. All ages.1708 Pump House Drive, 23221.


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.


Tubing: Escape the heat but still bask in the sun with these leisurely floats down the James River. We'll meet at the Park Headquarters, hike upstream along the banks of the river, and then float back down through Mitchell's Gut rapids. Please bring water to drink and dress to be in the water and in the sun. Sneakers or other closed-toe shoes are required. $15 city residents, $35 non-city residents, Saturdays through July 24, 2-4:30 p.m. 


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 and 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.