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Friends of the
James River Park
November 2014 - In This Issue:

The 2013 Virginia Outdoors Plan is a comprehensive plan for land conservation, outdoor recreation, and open-space planning. This document was developed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation with public input and feedback from regional planners. Providing a vision for Virginia's outdoors, it includes information on recreation trends, conservation planning (with a case for land conservation and Virginia-specific tools), and details the positive public health and economic impact provided by outdoor planning.

This version includes many helpful user-friendly features such as:
  • VOP Mapper (, a custom-built online mapping tool which enables users to view recreation information on a series of interactive maps,
  • A searchable database featuring some of the most popular outdoor activities (,
  • A planning tool that enables citizens to request additional facilities by region and type (
This is the tenth plan to be produced and the first one to be completely paperless. You can download the entire survey or specific portions at
HIstorically, bateaux were used in the 1700s and 1800s to ferry goods up and down the James River and the Kanawha Canal. This modern-day bateau arrived at Reedy Creek on October 25.
James River Hikers, Hiking With History transport materials bateau-style.

Anyone who hikes the North Bank Trail downriver from Maymont knows how slippery certain parts of the trail can be -- crossing the often muddy low areas can be treacherous. Michael Burton, the city's trails manager, said a boardwalk project has "been on my radar screen for several years. The challenge was always getting the materials to the site." Parking at Texas Beach and carrying materials downhill, across a bridge and railroad tracks, then more stairs and more walking -- a quarter mile in all -- made getting materials to the site almost impossible.

The bateau is loaded for the first delivery of supplies needed to build a boardwalk across a swampy and often treacherous section of the North Bank Trail.
Enter Dennis Bussey and James River Hikers, Hiking with History, a meetup group which frequents various sections of the JRPS. Seeing the need, this group decided to fund this project and to solve the materials delivery problem with an eye to history. Andrew McRoberts, a member of the group, had the idea to employ bateaux to deliver the construction materials. Through a fortunate encounter, Bussey connected with Andrew Shaw, a bateau owner from Charlottesville, and a plan evolved.

On Saturday, October 25, Shaw and a crew put in at River Meadows, poled their bateau to Reedy Creek, picked up materials and delivered them across the river to Texas Beach where they were unloaded and hauled a short distance to the construction site. After multiple trip ferrying materials, the crew then poled back upstream to take out. Construction of the boardwalk is expected to take about three days over multiple weekends. The result is a safer, improved trail for all, thanks to the generosity of the Hikers and some old-fashioned thinking. 
The James River App

Ever wonder what current conditions are in the park? Developer David Roop has created a helpful and free app to answer questions about weather, river conditions and locations along the James River. The James River app is easy to use with informative features like:
  • Water level and temperature charts that come directly from the website for up to the minute information
  • Water level restrictions
  • Rain gauge
  • Trail-closed warnings
  • Maps of entrances to the James River Park, along with information about each location
  • Users have the ability to long-click on a map and save a specific location.
  • Users have the ability to save their current location.
  • Users can email, text, and facebook their current or saved location to anyone.
All this designed to help you have an awesome time on the river. Best of all it is free! Available for both Android ( and Apple (

Are you planning to change your e-mail address? Please contact the Friends ([email protected]) with your name plus your old and new e-mail addresses so we can update our records and you can continue to receive our e-news and special event announcements. We promise to be mindful and not blow up your mailbox with meaningless correspondence!

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Scott Turner was able to capture this video which illustrated the danger abandoned fishing line poses to wildlife.

An early morning rescue effort was initiated by Matt Burner after walking his dogs at Pony Pasture on Saturday, October 18. As he drove away along Riverside Drive, he noticed a large bird entangled and dangling from some fishing line in a birch tree. He called Betsy Slade, FoJRP board member and bird lover. She contacted Nathan Burrell, park superintendent, who, in turn, contacted Peter Girardi of True Timber Tree Service. True Timber immediately dispatched a bucket truck and crew to meet park employee Michael Gee and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Officer James Patrillo to aid in an attempt to rescue the injured bird, an osprey. With instruction from Officer Patrillo, the truck crew moved the bucket into position, caught the line, then maneuvered the bird into his hands. He wrapped the bird in a blanket to still and calm it while he waited for a rehabilitator to arrive and take the bird to a rehab center.

The osprey has an injured wing. If the injury can't be repaired, the bird will be cared for and used in education programs -- maybe to warn of the damage abandoned fishing lines can cause. Total time elapsed from first call to completed rescue was about one and a half hours.

If you have an emergency such as this, one that requires the park staff's attention, call 804-357-8897. For human injuries or situations that require police intervention, call 911.


App shows locations of eagle nests throughout the state


The Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) has developed a neat application that allows web-surfers to locate documented eagle nests across Virginia. The Eagle Nest Locator mapping portal ( shows the location of nests, when they were last occupied (if not currently), and the distribution of bald eagles throughout the state. One nesting location listed is Williams Island within the JRPS.


Despite best efforts, an unknown number of eagle nests go unrecorded each year. You can help by reporting eagle nest locations. If you are aware of an unlisted nest, please visit the CCB Report a Nest web page for instructions. Please remember bald eagles are sensitive to human disturbance, so maintain your distance and thanks for your help!  

The historic James River & Kanawha Canal.

Great Shiplock Park/Chapel Island


Below the fall line, east of downtown Richmond, you'll find one of the lesser known, quieter sections of JRPS -- Great Shiplock Park and Chapel Island. The entrance to both is located at 2803 Dock St. (Dock and Pear streets) in Shockoe Bottom. From these parks you'll find unique and amazing views of downtown Richmond and amenities such as benches, shade structures, and bike racks.


The Great Shiplock Park section contains the trailhead for the western terminus of the Virginia Capital Trail, a dedicated, paved pedestrian and bicycle trail that will connect Jamestown and Richmond along the Scenic Route 5 corridor. As part of the trail's construction, GSP underwent a $450,000 renovation in 2013, courtesy of the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, a nonprofit advocacy group working for the 52-mile trail. If you're not interested in walking or riding the trail, you can learn about the historic James River & Kanawha Canal with an interpretive display and working canal lock. Or fish in the tidal James for species such as shad, white perch, rockfish, smallmouth bass, herring, and several types of catfish.


Take the footbridge across the canal to Chapel Island, named for the early Episcopal chapel located there and active prior to the 1741 founding of St. John's Episcopal Church in Church Hill. Here you'll find a half-mile of winding, wide and flat single-track for hikers and bikers, and a non-motorized boat launch. In addition, the central gravel path continues west along the island through the retention basin owned by the DPU to the 14th Street boat take-out. The parkland also includes the former Trigg Shipyard, which was built in 1898 and went out of business in 1903. Interpretive signage aids visitors' understanding of these unique spots and their place in Richmond history.


Every November Massachusetts takes credit for celebrating America's first Thanksgiving. We've all heard the tale: black-hatted Pilgrim folks of the Plymouth Colony along with American Indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Even Wikipedia says so.

We say -- not so! The first official Thanksgiving was celebrated on December 4, 1619, on the banks of the James River at Berkeley Hundred, 20 miles upriver from Jamestown. Do the math: that's one year and 17 days before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock.

A written account of this event exists to support this claim: "wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God." And on December 4th of that year, the 38 settlers did just that, when they held a day of thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, their relationship with the indigenous population was not quite as amicable as that of the Plymouth Colony, and the well-coordinated "Indian Massacre of 1622" resulted in the abandonment of the Berkeley Hundred site in favor of the better-fortified and defensible Jamestown. Still, first is first, and each year a commemoration of the first Thanksgiving is held at Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County on the first Saturday in November.
November Volunteer Day

Huguenot Flat Water, 8600 Southampton Rd., Saturday, November 22, 9:00 am until noon.

You've got a date with the James River Park and the Friends to wrangle some invasive species this fall. Please join us at the Huguenot Flat Water section of JRPS on November 22. Registration is required through HandsOn Richmond.


This fall we have initiated a new sign-up procedure -- partnering with HandsOn Richmond to reach a larger audience. Sign up and join us for this event. Register at:

Our October Bug Garden Clean-up was a big success! A total of 28 enthusiastic volunteers showed up and worked hard, pulling weeds, transplanting flowers, spreading compost and mulch, then topped it off by spreading 10 tons of crushed stone on the pathways! Big thanks to all who helped. And a special thank you to these generous vendors for donating materials:

  • Lucks Stone, 20 tons of stone
  • Pete Rose, 220 pounds of organic compost
  • True Timber, 15 yards of mulch
Full Moon Series | November 6
The November Full Moon Series at the Sugar Pad includes discussion on the impact of the recently announced Stone Brewing location, the Va. Capital Trail and general riverfront news; a drum circle; and a variety show. Moonrise is at 5:12 pm, the event runs from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. 3101 Wharf St. Parking in the Intermediate Terminal lot. For more information contact [email protected].
James River Short Film Festival | November 7
The James River Short Film juried competition dates to 1994. All submissions-30 minutes or less, experimental, narrative fiction, nonfiction, animation-are pre-screened by local jurors and advanced to the finalists' stage: a screening at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Join us on November 7 at 6:30 pm for a screening of independent and innovative short films, and cast your ballot for the People's Choice Award! $8 general public, $5 VMFA and JRFS members.

The Great Pumpkin Smash! | November 8
When Halloween is over, what happens to your pumpkin? Join us at the Westover Hills branch of the Richmond Public Library for some "smashing" stories with the Backpack Storyteller, Deborah Alsko. Then have fun SMASHING your pumpkins! We will use the "remains" to feed the animals and the earth. All ages (and pumpkins) welcome! 10:00 am. 1408 Westover Hills Blvd. 804-646-8833
Bald Eagle Photography Tours | November 8 & 9
Experience the untamed beauty and majesty of bald eagles on the James River. Relax and enjoy their conservation success story aboard the Discovery Barge II, a 24 ft. pontoon boat. This two-hour tour departs from Deep Bottom Boat Landing, 9525 Deep Bottom Rd. in Varina. $45 per person. November 8, 9:00 am-noon and 12:30-3:30 pm November 9, 7:00-10:00 am and 10:30 am-1:30 pm Registration required. Contact Capt. Mike with Discover the James at

Anthem Richmond Marathon | November 15 
Named  "America's Friendliest Marathon" (Runner's World), the Anthem Richmond Marathon follows a scenic course that winds through some of the city's most historic and beautiful neighborhoods, over two bridges and along the James River ending with a post-race party on Brown's Island. Course open from 8:00 am until 3:00 pm. 

2nd Richmond Cider Celebration | November 15    
The Richmond celebration of Cider Week Virginia will be held from 11 am - 4 pm at the 17th Street Farmers' Market. This event brings together all eight of Virginia's cideries for tastings, apple- and cider-based dishes, and all around apple-oriented fun. The event also features live music, sampling of different varieties of apples, and hands-on activities for children - such as apple juice tasting and making apple prints. Tickets are just $15 and include: 5 cider tastings, 2 food samples, access to live music and kids' activities. Guests can also purchase full servings of cider, apple juice and food a la carte in addition to ticketed samples. Under 21 may enter at no charge and purchase a la carte food and drinks. More at:

Bicycle Maintenance Clinic | November 24

Join us for this free bicycle maintenance clinic presented by the mechanics at Endorphin Fitness. Learn the basics of bicycle maintenance, including how to clean and maintain your bicycle as well as prevent and change a flat tire. Free & open to all, but you must register.
6:00 - 7:00 pm. Space limited.

22nd Annual James River Parade of Lights | December 13
Each year, boaters decorate their vessels and take to the river at dusk with a dazzling display of lights. Sponsored by the James River Advisory Council, this event is enjoyed by boaters and spectators alike. The parade
runs from 6:00 - 9:00 pm, and begins just below the fall line in Richmond.The boats cruise to the Varina-Enon Bridge with several official viewing sites along the shoreline. An after-parade awards celebration is held for all participating boaters with prizes awarded in several categories. Free. More information 804-717-6688.
Purchase your very own JRPS license plate at (photo by Phil Riggan)
Your green keeps us green!
  • Become a member 
  • Make a donation 
  • Get a park license plate 
  • Buy a T-shirt
  • Purchase a pamphlet
  • Contribute to the Preservation & Protection Fund  

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.