Nomination Period for River Heroes Now Open
2015 Ralph White River Hero Award
Excitement is building for the newly renamed Ralph White River Hero Award, sponsored by the Friends of the James River Park.
Do you know a person, company or organization that you think should be recognized for their work to preserve or promote the JRPS? Now is the time to nominate that individual or organization for this prestigious award.
Nominations for this year's awards will be accepted between January 24 and March 2, 2015. And plan to join us at VCU Rice Center on April 30, 2015 for the award presentation!
Science in the Park Video in RVA Environmental Film Festival
The latest Science in the Park video on blueback herring and American shad spawning in our great river was a runner up selection in the 2015 RVA Environmental Film Festival and was shown on the big screen on Sunday, Feb 8, 2015!
Park Recognised in Blue Ridge Outdoors
For more than 19 years, Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine has been the definitive regional guide to outdoor sports, health, and adventure travel in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.
In its annual Best of the Blue Ridge contest, readers vote for their favorite destinations in categories as diverse as music festivals and hiking trails. After four weeks and over 5,000 votes, the final results are in: JRPS took top honors for Best Urban Park and was a runner-up in the Outdoor Scene category.
In the January 2015 edition of the magazine highlighting the winners, the JRPS was described as "the ultimate multisport, urban life adventure, Richmond's James River Park trumps all." Read more at Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
James River Park System By the Numbers
Visitors to the park
This past spring, Friends partnered with The James River Outdoor Coalition (JROC) to fund the purchase of Park Counters to tally the number of park visitors. These were placed at the main entrances into the JRPS. The results support projections provided by a VCU student surveys in 2012. This survey predicted anywhere from 500,000 -- 1.5 million visitors per year. With the instillation of the park counters we now know that JRPS has had over 900,000 visitors from May 2014 until December 2014.
James River Park System is clearly a top dog when it comes to attendance. By May 2015 the annual visitor count is expected to be closer to the 1.5 million visitor prediction made in 2012.
Who cares? Anyone who lives, works, or plays in the City of Richmond! The James River Park System provides a huge economic benefit to the City. Using the $16 per day per user estimate for park economic impact numbers from the 2014 edition of the Virginia Outdoors Plans. JRPS right now, provides a $12,721,872 economic impact directly to the City and local businesses. This is before you buy your bike, running shoes or paddling gear!
- Read a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article: New research shows James River Park is region's most-visited site.
Volunteers are important too!
Can we place a dollar value on our volunteers? Volunteering is about helping other individuals and the community. Volunteering means working with others to make a meaningful contribution. And the how and why people volunteer is as individual as the people are themselves.
Volunteers play a vital role in the life of the JRPS. Clean-ups, graffiti removal, invasive species removal and native replanting, trail improvements, fundraising, event planning, promoting, board membership: these are all tasks performed by park volunteers. The impact of their service is evident throughout the park.
As a way to acknowledge the contributions of our volunteers, we assigned a dollar figure to the 7,177 hours given to the park in 2014. Although there are a number of ways to calculate an hourly rate, we used the Federal Government's recommended figure of $22/hour and came up with a total man-hour value of $157,894. While this total is surprisingly high, it is in the nature of volunteering where we truly find its worth. The virtue in volunteering is much deeper, much more fulfilling and much more important in contributing to a healthy and vibrant community than money can ever measure. Volunteerism is priceless!
We offer a special thanks to all of you who gave your time to benefit the park in 2014.
Vauxhall Island Bid Won by Enrichmond Foundation
The Enrichmond Foundation, representing a number of environmental groups, secured the purchase of Vauxhall Island in a sealed-bid auction which closed 12/11/14. "We will be discussing our hopes for Vauxhall once the purchase process is completed," stated John Sydnor, Executive Director of Enrichmond Foundation, which serves Richmond's people, parks and public spaces. Likewise, the names of the groups funding the purchase will not be published until the final paperwork is done.
The 2.82-acre undeveloped island lies upstream of the Mayo Bridge and is adjacent to the great blue heron rookery. This purchase is a welcome outcome for this unique property.
- Read more at the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Choose Your Adventure: Pony Pasture Rapids
One of the most popular spots in the JRPS, Pony Pasture Rapids receives almost a quarter of a million visitors annually. The main entrance is located off Riverside Drive two miles east of the Huguenot Bridge. This entrance has the largest parking lot in the JRPS, with space for 80 cars. Still, on nice days it can be difficult to find a parking spot. Be prepared to wait in line or find an alternate method of travel to the park (bike, walk, carpool).
Possibly the biggest attraction to Pony Pasture is the rapids. Rated at class II, the rapids are part of the James River's main channel. With the aid of park volunteers and funding from area recycling projects, the JRPS built steps that lead directly into the river and are fully equipped with a canoe launch, also suitable for kayaks and rafts. While most people swim and play in the rapids or sunbathe on the rocks, there is much more to do in this outdoor gem.
There are miles of trails in the park, offering views of the river, inland meadows, wildlife and a wide variety of trees. The main trails are gravel and are good for trail runners and cyclists. Along the banks you find fishermen. Other frequent visitors are birdwatchers and dog walkers. This park also connects to The Wetlands park, located just to the east of Pony Pasture.
All of this could have been lost if not for the actions of local citizens Louise Burke and Dr. R. B. Young who in 1966 formed the Scenic James Council to oppose a proposed highway along the south side of the James. In 1967 they hosted a "Farewell to the River" hike for a Girl Scout troop and a newspaper reporter. Resulting publicity galvanized public support to protect the natural beauty of the property that became the Pony Pasture Rapids and Huguenot Flatwater portions of the Park.
See all in the Choose Your Adventure series.
Events in and around and for the Park
Conservation Easement Inspection help requested for February
In February of each year the FoJRP volunteers are required to walk through the areas of the park protected by the conservation easement. This is to ensure there has been no encroachment into the protected areas and is required to keep the easement enforced. It also provides a great excuse to enjoy a quiet afternoon in one of our favorite places. We are looking for volunteers to help. If you are interested in turning a nice walk into a meaningful activity that helps to protect the park contact: email@example.com.
Celebrate Chinese New Year at Agecroft Hall: Special Focus Tour | February 19
It's the year of the goat and in honor of Chinese New Year's Day special tours of Agecroft Hall's collection of Chinese porcelain are are being offered at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. Tours are co-led by knowledgeable guide Tracy Herman and the manager of collections, Libby Howlett. Reservations and advanced payment are appreciated, but not required. Price: $8 per person, free for Agecroft Hall Annual Pass holders. Agecroft Hall, 4305 Sulgrave Rd. For more information, contact Katie Reynolds at firstname.lastname@example.org or 804-353-4241.
Prothonotary Warblers and Build-a-Nest Box | February 19
Master bird bander Bob Reilly will give an update on activities at Dutch Gap. You will have a chance to assemble some nest boxes to help these "Golden Swamp Warblers" when they return to Dutch Gap this spring to breed. $15 donation, St. Luke Lutheran Church, 7757 Chippenham Pkwy. The program begins at 7 p.m. with coffee and dessert starting at 6:30. More at RichmondAudobon.org.
Owl Prowl | March 5
The Richmond Audubon Society is leading an owl prowl in the James River Park. On Thursday, March 5, from 6:30 – 7:30pm at 3399 Landria Dr, Richmond, VA 23225 they will take a short night hike with the hopes of hearing and possibly attracting the resident owls. The program is for all ages and will start with a short introduction into the lives of these nocturnal birds. Dress appropriately and don’t forget a flashlight. For more information, contact Ellison Orcutt at fieldtrips@Richmondaudubon.org.
Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour | March 6 and 7 (ticket sales begin 1/5/15)
Experience adventure on the big screen! The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will exhilarate and inspire you as you journey to exotic locations, paddle the wildest waters, and climb the highest peaks. Different films each night. Adults $7 (both nights $12), 18 years and under $4 (both nights $7), ages 4 and under free. James River High School, 3700 James River Rd., 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. each night. For more information go to chesterfield.gov/ProgramGuide/ or contact email@example.com. For tickets call 804-748-1623.
Flight of the Butterflies | through March 13
The Science Museum of Virginia presents the 2012 Canadian documentary film about zoologist Fred Urquhart's scientific investigation of monarch butterflies, a film directed and co-written by Mike Slee starring Megan Follows, Gordon Pinsent and Shaun Benson. Mondays-Sundays, 12-12:45 p.m., $9. 2500 W. Broad St. More at smv.org.
James River Run | March 15
The 4th annual James River Run at The Reedy Creek Meadow in the James River Park takes place on Sunday, March 15. The course will wind through single track trails next to the James before taking runners over to Belle Isle and eventually back to the meadow via Buttermilk Trail. There will be a longer 10K version of the race that will take runners into Forest Hill Park before finishing the race back at The Reedy Creek Meadow. Online registration is $25 for both the 5k and 10k races. In person registration will also be available the day of the event for $30. All proceeds from this event will go to the James River Park System in honor of Greg Hawkins. More at jamesriverrun.org.
Reprogramming the City: Opportunities for Urban Infrastructure | through March 22
A global overview of the ways existing structures, systems and surfaces of cities around the world are being redesigned. Virginia Center for Architecture, 2501 Monument Ave. 804-644-3041. More at architectureva.org.
Venomous Snakes | permanent exhibit
This new permanent exhibit at Maymont features the three venomous snake species -- the northern copperhead, eastern cottonmouth and timber rattlesnake -- native to Virginia. Robins Nature and Visitor Center, 2201 Shields Lake Dr., Tuesdays-Sundays. Cost is included with Nature Center admission.
Virginia Rocks: Geologic Selections from the Collection | through June
This exhibition in the Lora Robins Gallery of Design from Nature highlights the varied geological areas of the state and the processes that shaped the land. Focus is placed on the history and future use of Virginia's mineral and energy resources and how these resources impact the economy and environment. University of Richmond Museums, 28 Westhampton Way, Sunday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m., closed Saturdays. Contact 808-289-8276 or museums.richmond.edu.
JRPS license plates, matching gifts and AmazonSmile -- money for the park
James River Park license plates have now generated over $7,000 for the park! To order yours, check out the DMV Specialty License Plate section!
If you're making a donation to the FOJRP, consider asking your employer to match your gift. Many local businesses are happy to support Richmond's wonderful park system. All gifts and bequests are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by law, and donors will receive a letter acknowledging their contributions; contributors to the Protection and Preservation Fund are also acknowledged on the FOJRP website.
FOJRP registered with AmazonSmile
AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support FOJRP. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you'll find the exact same shopping experience you get on Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate .5% of eligible purchases to an organization you select.
Simply go to smile.amazon.com, and on your first visit you will be prompted to select a charity. Select Friends of the James River Park, then shop!
Watch it! Check out these Science in the Park videos.
T-shirts and pamphlets for sale!
Our snazzy t-shirts and FOJRP interpretive pamphlets are available to purchase online. Order yours today!
Keep the park safe
If you see something out of the ordinary in the James River Park, please report it using the non-emergency police number:
Reportable things include problems in the park system (of natural or human origin) -- graffiti, large amounts of trash, trees down across main trails, fires of any sort, unruly behavior, etc.
If it is an emergency situation, please dial 911.
Do you Bicycle in the Park?
Did you know that pedestrians have the right of way on ALL trails in the Park, except those marked Bicycles Only? Please be courteous when passing walkers; if you have a bell, use it or call out, "on your left" or "on your right". It's common courtesy and will prevent those enjoying the Park from being forced off the trails. This is also critical behavior for Park Visitors tending their kids or their dogs.
Stay on the Trails Please!
With so many bikers, joggers, hikers and dog walkers in the park, the trails get a lot of use. Winter freeze and spring rains make them vulnerable to erosion and long-term damage. When there are puddles on your route it can be tempting to go around them. Realize that, by widening the path, you are adding to trail erosion and destruction of vegetation ... creating problems.
The trails are maintained by park staff and volunteers who work to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation and the need to maintain healthy ecosystems. Become aware how your use impacts the park and TREAD LIGHTLY!
Protection and Preservation Fund
A special thank you to all who donate to our long-term fund. See our growing list.
Canine Friends of the Park
Probably some of the biggest fans of the park system are the dogs that walk the trails -- and they would want to keep the park clean too!
Read why it's important to pick up the poop and don't pollute! Catch up on other Canine news as well.