It was almost exactly a year ago that we wrote about tropical lionfish

We know! Right? What do tropical lionfish have to do with the James River ecosystem?

Lionfish, you see, are popping up in places where they’re not supposed to be, and either eating or crowding out native fishes. You see this in other areas with fish like Asian carp or snakeheads.

They are an invasive species.

But being an invasive species isn’t limited to animal life. One of the biggest issues in the James River Park System is invasive plant species. Dealing with that is how we introduced ParkStar Catherine Farmer back in October. She’s in charge of the Habitat Restoration Project in Belle Isle. She started out by trying to identify all of the different types of trees on Belle Isle, but quickly realized that many of them weren’t native to our area, and decided to do something about it.

That’s also how we invited an invasion of goats!

Goats are great climbers and can easily scamper through underbrush, and they love to eat things like creeping ivy. That made them perfect to help us tackle some invasive plants around the park, and we invited RVA Goats to bring their team and put them to work.

And now it’s time to get you involved.

February 23rd signals the beginning of National Invasive Species Awareness Week, and we have a variety of events through the James River Park for you to learn more or lend a hand. On that Sunday, from 1-4, you can join us at Pony Pasture to learn what makes a species invasive, how to find them, and why they’re an issue. From 2-4, a nature walk will teach you how to identify many of the species of plants in the James River Park.

AT 1 PM THE GOATS COME! They’ll demonstrate their invasive plant removal prowess.

On February 28th, all are invited to Boogie for the Biosphere! This fund-raising event will be at The Westover at 5047 Forest Hill Road from 7-10 PM. Music will be from the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, and your donations will be appreciated!

From February 23rd through the 29th there will be a variety of opportunities for you to help remove invasive plants throughout the James River Park – from the Buttermilk Trail to Reedy Creek. All events volunteers should wear long pants, closed toe shoes, and wear long sleeved shirt, hat, and sunscreen. Bring your favorite gloves and clipper tools; tools will be provided, if you need them. Visit the Invasive Plant Task Force Page or visit our calendar to learn more. For more details about the events, click here for a download.