Arrest Made in Rash of Car Break-ins

Thank goodness that the recent series of car break-ins occurring across the JRPS seems to be over. This is a rare occurrence but, as with any other City venue, sometimes unwelcome types visit our Park system. The fine folks at Richmond Police Department (RPD), working in collaboration with park staff, recently arrested a suspect. He was caught by two blue herons and a woodchuck -- uh, on video surveillance cameras -- stealing items from cars parked at several areas.

Though we like to think of our beloved Park as a quasi-remote wilderness area, it really is located within a large metropolitan area. So, please remember to position any and all valuables in your car out of view. Secure items in your car's trunk and lock your doors before enjoying your Park visit. Better yet, leave your stuff at home, so you can be worry-free. It's also a great excuse to clear the clutter from your car!

Member Power!

Like our mighty mascot, the spotted salamander, you have the POWER, the power to influence the James River Park System and the way it interfaces with the Richmond community! Step up and join our Board. We are a fun group of lively folks who come together to care for the JRPS. Meetings are held monthly at Park Headquarters. Cooler than the Kardashian's crib (i.e., a celebrity house), it's one of the most lovely settings in Richmond! It's right by Reedy Creek and overlooks the James. We are in the process of electing new officers. Why not join us at our next meeting on November 4th at 6:30 PM?

Technology Takes Over the Park

cell phoneIt's an exciting time to be a Park visitor, even for those of us who can't let go of our smartphones. Let the Park system put you on the map! Thanks to several individuals and local groups, there are three --three-- new ways to engage with the Park using technology. [Remember, we're talking about those same gadgets that you should not leave on the dashboard of your parked car!]

FoJRP member David Roop recently launched the James River App, which allows users to check both the River temperature and water level, and also provides an interactive map of the Park system.

Looking for new friends to join you in exploring the Park? Look no further than
Outdoorsy, another new app that lets users create profiles, meet other Park visitors, and sign up for Park-oriented non-public events (think yoga, trail running, and biking -- all hosted by JRPS visitors). Check out this write up in the Times-Dispatch for more info!

Finally, and coming soon: our very own Board Member and VCU Prof. Anne Wright has created two geology tours of the Park that you will access from our Science in the Park webpage.

Enjoy these apps (great for engaging kids, too!), but remember to soak up the natural beauty of the James -- which can be done completely "off the grid," as well!

Fairy Shrimp in the Park

fairy shrimpFairy shrimp are iconic members of vernal (spring) pools --Who Knew?-- and require these fragile bodies of water to complete their life cycle. They are harbingers of the life and health (and wetland-ness) of our Park system. When found in a water body, as ours were by VCU Prof. Anne Wright, that water body can be considered to be a functional vernal pool.

Vernal pool associationUntil now, we were not aware of the presence of fairy shrimp within the City of Richmond. So, we're talkin' cool urban fairy shrimp here! Their discovery means the waters of our Park system are more biologically diverse than we ever thought! We've got spotted and marbled salamanders and now, urban fairy shrimp! Three obligate species are still surviving in the heart of the city. Pretty darn cool!

After this Eureka-like discovery last spring, a video was developed for the Science in the Park addition to the FOJRP website and to document the discovery for the City. This video recently has been selected to be in the 6th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival in NEW YORK CITY. Screening on Oct 18, 2013.


Director and Editor: Melissa Lesh
Producer and Co-director: Anne Wright
Script Writer and Narrator: Ralph White

VCU ASPiRE Students are in Our Parks, too!

A big shout out (uh, "thanks!") to Nannette Bailey and VCU ASPiRE students
(Academic Scholars Program in Real Environments) for helping to clean up the Tredegar area in preparation for this weekend's awesome Richmond Folk Festival.

Trail Opening
Virginia Capital Trail at Great Shiplock Park
Ceremony to mark the opening of the western trail-head
Pear and Dock Streets
Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Water Fountain in Reedy Creek

dog at water fountainWoo Hoo! Both humans and their trusty, leashed-up, K9 companions soon will have the opportunity to quench their thirst in style, as a watering hole is scheduled to be added to the Reedy Creek Parking Lot! Some time ago an anonymous donor gave the Friends $5000 for a project to be approved by Ralph White. Ralph has chosen to add these funds to the monies collected by JROC (James River Outdoor Coalition)-- including donations from Coastal Canoeists--to install a water fountain near the Reedy Creek parking lot. This wonderful fountain will include handicapped access, a spigot and bowl for dogs, and a way to fill water bottles. It will provide much-needed refreshment for all park users. Attached to the fountain will be a plaque memorializing Greg Hawkins, the former director of the VCU-OAP (Outdoor Adventure Programs). According to Greg Velzy of JROC, Hawkins "introduced untold numbers of students and friends to the wonders of the outdoors, with a strong affinity to the James River in Richmond and consequently the James River Park System. He was an avid whitewater paddler, mountain biker, and consummate outdoorsman, and took almost daily walks in the park with his dog Cleitus." JROC anticipates installation of the fountain in early 2014. This will be a great amenity for the JRP! Gulp and Slurp, slurp!

Dog Forum

graphSpearheaded by FoJRP Board Member Molly Dellinger-Wray, a forum for FOJRP members regarding dogs in James River Park System was held on July 9, 2013.
Greg Brittingham from VCU's Performance Management Group facilitated the forum, which was attended by 30 members. FoJRP members in attendance agreed on the following:

Five Guiding Values of Dogs in the James River Park System

Park should be safe for people, dogs and wildlife.
Park visitors (humans and dogs) should have a positive experience in the park.
graphPark visitors should demonstrate environmental stewardship.
Park procedures that have worked in the past should inform future practice.
Park visitors should respect one another's preferences.

Next steps are for Nathan Burrell, JRPS Superintendent to meet with other city officials in the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Director of Richmond Animal Care and Control. These individuals will discuss enhanced enforcement of canine management ordinances. Remember, IT IS THE LAW to keep your dog(s) leashed at all times and to immediately remove dog droppings ("poop").

Visitors' Survey of Canine Management Issues and Regulations

On a related note, students from the VCU Psychology Department
course, "Experimental Methods," conducted a boots-on-the-ground (and students-in-the-Parks) survey in the JRPS. Between May 25th and June 27th 2013 VCU undergraduates personally interviewed 547 JRPS visitors at Belle Isle and the Pony Pasture entrances, and the Landria Drive entrance to the Wetlands). The vast majority of JRPS visitors (69%) have seen dogs running off-leash in the JRPS.

Despite this, most JRPS visitors (64%) stated that off-leash dogs did not impact their JRPS visit. Looking more closely at the data, about 18% of visitors said that off-leash dogs either added to or detracted from, their JRPS visits. Hmmmm. We're still trying to figure out that one!

So, as you might expect, the powers-that-be will put their heads together and try to hash all this out.

We do know that people who believe off-leash dogs are problematic are concerned for their safety, for the safety of children, and about the 'packages' that dogs leave behind. Cyclists and runners, in particular, believe that off-leash dogs get in the way of their sport.

People who think off-leash dogs are a plus tend to enjoy seeing dogs (perhaps their own) swim and run, or play, and believe that dogs make the JRPS more of a family-oriented environment. So, once again: sit and stay. More to come!

Our First Lady's Book

Tracy Brockwell is an environmental educator, and coincidentally the first woman of James River Park (she's married to Nathan). She has been working with a group of students for the past year to produce a field guide for Springtime at the James River.

All of the programs have been held in the city at various parks and sites along the river and surrounding areas. The group has published a field guide and each child participant receives a copy. The online publisher, Blurb, has an option to make books available for purchase to the public with ALL profits going to Friends of James River Park. Wow!

Also, the book will be dedicated to Ralph White for his amazing lifetime of service to James River Park. The children suggested any proceeds raised go to native plant restoration. We think they have been taught well! Thank you, Tracy!

Improved Volunteer Management

JRPS is seeing more volunteers -- Yay! More Eagle Scouts, High School and University students, especially, are getting out into the Parks, helping Nathan Burrell with everything from trash pickup to invasive species removal, building, painting, mulching, and planting! WooHoo! Coming soon to a website near and dear to our hearts: Volunteer Management Software. This will allow users to see and sign-up for volunteer opportunities more easily -- a benefit for the Park! Watch for it on our website: www.jamesriverpark.org.

James River Park Day at TaZa Coffee n' Creme

October 26, 2013 ~ 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Want a free small coffee? Come into TaZa wearing your Friends of James River Park t-shirt, (or purchase one that day for only $15.00, sizes S to XL, even 2X) to receive yours.

While you're there enter the raffle for a basket filled with TaZa's goodies -- pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc. Of course, don't forget to enjoy a toasted bagel, doughnut, or delicious sandwich.

JRPS License Plates generate over $7000 for the Park!

Pat yourself on the back if you already have yours and if you haven't, it's time you did! Remember, when you donate to the Park, check with your employer who may be willing to double your contribution!

Bridge Repairs

Finally, and thanks for reading this far, repairs have been made to the bridge from Southside to Belle Isle. This will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists! It's not the most exciting news, unless you've recently almost fallen into the James, right! Shout-out for bridge repairs!

Friends of James River Park
PO 4453
Richmond, Virginia 23220