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


Last month we mentioned the project that had assembled quite a list of animals residing in our urban park. And you might have noticed that some of the photos were taken by park visitors, not scientists, not professional photographers. You don't have to be an expert to be an iNaturalist, a person who photographs and records the plants and animals in the JRPS.


If you want to be part of this great scientific effort, please come to the training at park headquarters, 4401 Riverside Dr., on Saturday, May 16 (May 17, rain date), 9 to noon, and bring a camera, cellphone, laptop, field guides and binoculars.

To read more about this project visit:  



The 2015 Ralph White River Heroes were celebrated on April 30 at the Rice Center. A selection committee composed of community leaders worked to select this year's heroes. The 2015 winners are:

  • Anne Wright - Biologist and educator who has volunteered for the park for over a decade,
  • Scott Turner - Founder and owner of Riverside Outfitters and True Timber,
  • Dennis Bussey - Founder and organizer of the James River Hikers meet-up group.

Ralph White was on hand to deliver the awards which were re-named in his honor this year. In addition, attendees of the event had the opportunity to taste Legend Brewery's new Z-Dam Ale before it went on sale to the general public. The event was profiled in the Richmond Times Dispatch ( 


Nominations for next year's River Heroes awards will begin in February, so start thinking now of who would be a great award recipient!

Penelope Davenport



It can't have been coincidental that, prior to moving to Richmond, Penelope had lived mostly in rural areas in Virginia, Delaware and upstate New York -- all places providing opportunities for outdoor recreation.

After graduating with a double major in European Studies and Painting from Hobart and William Smith College, she did about three years of coursework toward a PhD in art history at Bryn Mawr College.

She then moved to Richmond in 2011, where many family members live. The James River has been the most significant contributor to her sense of having arrived home. She is a whitewater rafter, trail runner, and lover of all things related to the JRPS. For many years she has directed wilderness camps, primarily in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but as far away as northern Ontario and Russia. Keep an eye out for the outdoor programs Penelope will be bringing to Richmond.



We've all read how our American children have lost their connection to nature, having been swallowed up by electronics or perhaps overly protected. Recent research has demonstrated that exposure to nature is very important to children's cognitive, emotional and social development.


Scott D. Sampson, the host of PBS Kids' Dinosaur Train, has written an evidence-based guide for adults on how to engage children with the natural world: How to Raise a Wild Child: The Art and Science of Falling in Love with Nature. Sampson offers specific activities and troubleshooting advice, employs technological assistance, and demonstrates how to instill a sense of place.


Belle Isle


The infrared park counters have confirmed what most of us had suspected: Belle Isle is the park's most popular site, attracting people of all ages to walk, bike, sunbathe on the rocks, fish at the quarry, climb a granite wall, and more.


Back in the day, we could only get there by hopping rocks from the river's south side. In 1988 a pedestrian suspension bridge under the Robert E. Lee Bridge was added, providing greater access, although parking around Tredegar Street continues to be a problem.


Due to the rapids around the island, swimming is not advisable although it's possible to wade at the western end. A few years ago, a bicycle skills area was added. The island is replete with interpretive signs because it has a rich history: Captain John Smith first explored it in the early 17th century, and it has contained a fishery, nail factory, a notorious prison for Union soldiers, and a hydroelectric plant, among other buildings and activities. The popular Passages summer camp for children takes place there, as well. 


Pony Pasture, Saturday, May 9, 9 to noon  

The last FoJRP-sponsored volunteer effort until the fall will take place at the Pony Pasture, 7310 Riverside Dr., 23225, on Saturday, May 9, 9 to noon. Folks will be painting, cleaning up, and possibly spreading mulch. All tools and gloves, as well as water and cups, will be provided. This project will need only 20 volunteers, so be the first to register at  


Reedy Creek, Saturday, May 9, 9 to noon

Also, on May 9, JROC will be sprucing up the area around the Reedy Creek parking lot: laying more gravel by the kiosk, fixing up and adding another wall to the screen around the port-o-potty, and more. Please bring gloves and water if you can. 4401 Riverside Dr., 23225.


Dominion Riverrock on Brown's Island, May 15-17

Friends of the James River Park would love to have some volunteers to help staff our booth at Dominion Riverrock on Brown's Island, May 15-17. If you can help, please contact us at [email protected]. You will be paired with a board member or another person with experience.


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.



Cap2Cap | May 9, 6:30 a.m. until

This tenth anniversary of a great bicycle event runs between Richmond and Williamsburg, but you have several distance options. One terminus is at Rocketts Landing (5000 Old Osborne Turnpike, 23231) in view of the James. This festival includes lunch, beer, music, rest stops, a vendor expo, and police support on the roads. To register and find out more: Please check out the directions suggestions, due to another event downtown that day!


Komen Central Virginia Race for the Cure | May 9, 7 a.m. until 

Expect a sea of pink for this annual fundraiser held on Brown's Island. "The event raises significant funds and awareness for the breast cancer movement, celebrates breast cancer survivorship, and honors those who have lost their battle with the disease." To register, go to  


May Day at Henricus Historical Park| May 9, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Historical interpreters in period-dress will help you imagine the past as you participate in old English traditions of welcoming springtime: dancing around the Maypole, songs, dances, games and more. $8 adults, $6 children 3-12, 2 and under free. 251 Henricus Park Rd., 23836. 804-748-1611 or


Dominion Riverrock | May 15-17, schedule at link

Organized by Venture Richmond and the Sports Backers, the nation's largest outdoor sports and music festival brings athletes, spectators, musicians, and dogs together on Brown's Island for a three-day high-energy event. The outdoor sports include trail running, kayaking, biking, bouldering, slacklining, stand-up paddleboarding, and dog jumping. Vendors of sporting goods--in addition to vendors of food and beverages--as well as non-profit groups will also be on hand. Free to spectators. This event made the "Ten for the Road" list in AAA World.

27th Clean the Bay Day | Saturday, June 6, 9 to noon

This is a massive annual effort to clean streams and shorelines all over the bay's watershed. Richmonders will meet at Reedy Creek, 4401 Riverside Dr., 23225. It's best to register online, and parental permission forms are required for those volunteers who are under 18. Dress appropriately, consider the need for sunscreen and/or bug spray, and bring work gloves if you have them. Note that there are separate registration forms for boaters and for the rest of us.   


FoJRP Annual Members Picnic | June 13, 6 to 8 p.m.

This annual picnic at the Pumphouse Park is a relaxed celebration giving members the chance to mingle, listen to some great music and eat! Please bring a covered dish and a chair to sit in; fried chicken and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. Our treasurer will be available should you wish to join or renew your membership on-site. 1627 Pump House Dr., 23221. And if you haven't been to the Pumphouse Park before, take a video tour:

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.