May Day! Active Activists Needed in the JRPS 


Volunteers from ALTRIA have been busy in the JRPS working on a myriad of projects, including the Belle Isle Skills Park and testing out a new Geology App developed by FOJRP Board member and VCU Assistant Professor Anne Wright. We owe a lot to all park volunteers--a more user-friendly park and a big thank you at the very least.

If you've been meaning to step up, now is the time to step out in the Park to help the Friends and the JRPS. The park does not have enough staff power to keep up with its popularity, so it's up to volunteers to jump in.
 With Ralph's retirement looming, a strong FOJRP is key to keeping the JRPS a little bit of wilderness in the city. Please get involved at these upcoming events and see where you can best pitch in! A few board positions are open if you can't get enough. Coming to our events and attending a board meeting (annual picnic will be our next one) are the best ways to get involved. Please send a quick note to
[email protected] to volunteer for almost anything! 
Saturdays, May 5th and 12th, 9-2
Sundays, May 6th and 13th, 9-2
The work has begun on Belle Isle for the mountain bike skills park, but if you want to play, you need to pay with some elbow grease, backbone and even a stiff upper lip (or back, depending how long you work). Join RA-MORE, other volunteers and park workers if you can.

Pony Pasture Saturday, May 12th 9-11 a.m.   Our quarterly clean-up will be next Saturday ahead of the summer rush. Besides picking up trash between Huguenot Flatwater and Pony Pasture, we'll be planting native plants and mulching and doing whatever other chores Ralph needs us to do. Expect to get dirty and bring gloves and wear sturdy shoes. Please email [email protected] to sign up. 


Friday-Sunday, May 18th-20th
Brown's Island
Adventure in the big city. See how much fun can be had along the James River in Richmond during this 3 day extravaganza that has bouldering, slacklining, mountain biking, kayaking, trailrunning, stand up paddleboarding, flying dogs, music, food and so much more. This year the James River Park System Trailmarking Project is the official charity of the event, so more park improvements will be coming our way! Check out the busy and bustling schedule. FOJRP will be in the Green Zone. Come and see us to get park info, learn about volunteering with us and get your FOJRP t-shirt for $15! Volunteer at our booth to meet and greet and put salamander tattoos on children's arms. It's really a fun time!
Memorial Day Weekend
Monday, May 28th 12-5 in particular
Ralph White has asked for help handling the parking scene at Pony Pasture once again. Contact him at [email protected] or 432-1832 to give him a hand.

Saturday, June 9th, 9 - 3
Pony Pasture and Reedy Creek
JRAC hosts this event at various locations along the James. In the JRPS meeting places are Pony Pasture and Reedy Creek.  Get details and sign up in advance here.. Wear sturdy shoes or boots that can handle dirt. Gloves, trash bags and grabbers will be provided as well as water and lunch. People are always needed at Reedy Creek around lunchtime to help sort the trash and recycling. It's a dirty job and somebody's got to do it!
June 9th and 10th
Brown's Island
Our friends at Luckstone are back sponsoring this exciting adventure weekend along the river. They've asked the Friends to be a part of their tent activities to spread the good word about the JRPS. If you know and love the park, this is the place for you! They'll be raffling off a bike to benefit FOJRP (and the raffle winner!) Stop by and see us or email [email protected] if you're interested in staffing our spot for an hour or two.


License Plates THIS Month! Really! 

Our contact at DMV let us know that our long-awaited JRPS license plates were to be processed Friday, May 4th. Can we swear that means they went in the mail Friday? No, we swore enough during this long process, but they are coming! Vanity plates will be processed May 11th. Friends of James River Park turned in 378 applications and corresponding fees to the DMV back on July 15th, 2011, per their regulations. It looks like May will be the month to get out your screwdriver and get those plates on your vehicles. We'd love to see your photos of the pretty things on our Facebook page as soon as you get them in the mail. Thank you for your patience! 

If you submitted and paid for your JRPS license plate in 2010 or 2011 and have replaced the vehicle that was on that application or moved, please submit a new license plate form to DMV--to Ms. Carolyn Easley--with the word REPLACEMENT at the top of the form. Be sure to write JAMES RIVER PARK SYSTEM on your replacement application as well.


Forms for Mrs. Easley can be emailed to [email protected]v or faxed to (804) 367-1096. You've already paid for this and DMV has your money, so we want to make sure you get the plate you deserve as soon as possible. 

2012 River Heroes: STEIDEL & VELZY

We're exceedingly happy to announce that after careful deliberation, our panel has chosen two very worthy and talented River Heroes: Robert Steidel, Director of Richmond's Department of Public Utilities and Greg Velzy, Adventure Programmer for Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation. Both gentlemen go well beyond their job descriptions and have championed the James River in fundamental ways.  Here are excerpts from the winning nominations.

About Bob Steidel: 
"Some years ago, the joke among whitewater paddlers was that you could put your boat on the river, but could not take it off. One takeout after
another had been taken away from paddlers in the downtown area below the
rapids. Mayors, city managers, and councilpersons were asked to give some
attention to the problem, with no response. Nothing happened.        
Mr. Steidel was approached and in short order we were walking DPU
property to see what might be feasible. That was followed by a Memorandum
of Understanding between DPU and the Parks Department designating
riverside property as a takeout. DPU moved a fence or two and James River
Park employees and dozens of James River Outdoor Coalition volunteers
pitched in to create a first-rate take-out facility.        
Currently another MOU is underway to formalize the practice of having the
James River Park manage Williams Island, a significant nature preserve on
the James River.
Many public officials take a narrow view of their responsibilities
and therefore miss opportunities to contribute to the public good.
Robert Steidel takes a broader view, and as a result has
contributed significantly to the James River in ways others in his
position would likely miss.
About Greg Velzy: 

As the Adventure Programmer for Chesterfield Parks and Recreation Greg has been able to introduce thousands of people, of all ages, to the best playground that any region could ever have, the James River. 

Whether these folks are interested in the serenity of the Dutch Gap Conservation Area, the riffles and pools of Pony Pasture, or the vigorous rapids coursing through downtown, Greg has taught them how to enjoy our river and its environs to the fullest extent, while doing it in ways that are safe and have minimal impact. Despite being an expert paddler himself, Greg's patient nature encourages novice boaters to step out of their comfort zones and many have become hooked on paddling. After completing the course, each participant has progressed from someone whose only contact with the water may have been to drive over a bridge, to perhaps becoming a regular paddler or at the very least, another steward of the James River.

He became active with JROC (the James River Outdoor Coalition) when it was a fledgling organization in the late '90s. His work with Coastal Canoeists and JRAC encouraged Governor Warner to appoint him to sit on the Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Board. His excellent leadership skills led him to be named Chair of the Falls Advisory Committee.
We'd also like to thank everyone who took the time to write up a nomination -- they were all heartfelt, impressive, and made our decision difficult. Thanks also to The Boathouse, Discover the James and Real Richmond Food Tours for gift and financial support. And, of course, we greatly appreciate the efforts of our very fine judges: FOJRP board members and Mike Ostrander of Discover the James, Kevin Tobin of Passages Adventure Camps, and Jay Parker of Seven Hills School. Thank you, one and all!  


Friends of James River Park
PO 4453
Richmond, Virginia 23220