River Levels and Water Safety

Historic flood photoPlease pay attention to the river level! You can check that out online at the NOAA/NGS Westham Gauge page.

The park staff does visit the different sections of the park changing the signs that tell you whether the level is above 5 feet (when you must wear a life jacket) or above 9 feet (when you must have a permit to be out on the river).

This summer brought not only storms to Richmond but also rains upstream, and in one instance the river rose so quickly that some river visitors had to be rescued. As well, it's best to allow a couple of days after a rainstorm to go into the water, due to higher bacteria counts. To find out what those counts are, go to jamesriverwatch.org, as the James River Association monitors the levels every week during the summer.

Since we are on the subject of rising waters, it turns out that flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S. And with a river running through it, Richmond has a history of mind-boggling floods as a consequence of hurricanes. For a reminder of what has happened, the city is placing high-water mark signs in such places as Pony Pasture, Brown's Island, Great Shiplock Park, and Plant Zero. (FEMA will reimburse the city for these.) For more information about this high water awareness project, read this RTD article.

i naturalist screenshotStorm Drain Art

Six artists won the competition to paint 6 storm drains along Tredegar Street between the American Civil War Center and Brown's Island. The objective for this public art is to remind us that whatever we put down those drains is going directly into the river, our source for drinking, cooking, bathing, cleaning.

Read more on the Richmond Times Dispatch »

Coyotes in the Park Community Forum Rescheduled

Coyotes in the James River Park have been in the news lately. Read this Richmond.com article about coyotes, their place in the park's ecosystem. Also, plan to attend the rescheduled Coyote Forum

It will be held on October 26, 6:30-8:30 pm at Patrick Henry School of Science and Arts, 3411 Semmes Avenue, Richmond, VA 23225. We hope you can attend for a lively discussion and Q&A about coyotes in Virginia, ecology, Virginia laws and regulations, and coexisting with wildlife.

Special Thanks to Jon Baliles

group photoFriends of the James River Park presented councilman and mayoral candidate Jon Baliles with a special "paddle of thanks" at the July 5 board meeting.

Signed by officers of FoJRP, the James River Outdoor Coalition, Sports Backers, the James River Association, and Richmond MORE, the paddle shows our collective appreciation for Jon's friendship for the park and continued advocacy of major increases to the inadequate operating funds for the maintenance and safety of Richmond's most visited park and local attraction.

In his remarks, Jon stressed that the James River Park System is what most unites the entire region. Pictured in the photo with Jon are board members Katherine Mitchell and Greg Velzy, JROC president Will Isenberg, and Nathan Burrell, park superintendent. Watch the ceremony on YouTube.

Creative Writing Workshop

Ghost Stories on Bell Isle | Sunday, October 30, 2-4 pm

Join us this month for an extra-spooky Creative Writing Workshop with Lauren Minor, the Park's Artist-in-Residence, as we explore historic Belle Isle and write our own ghost stories, inspired by what we find in the park. (Haunted poems are welcome, too.) We'll meet at the bottom of the pedestrian footbridge on Tredegar Street (look for the "Writing Workshop" sign) and cross the bridge over the river together. Writing materials will be provided, but feel free to bring a favorite notebook and pen. (You may also wish to bring water and a blanket or towel to sit on.) All skill levels are welcome, and there is no cost to attend. For more information, including updates about this event, visit the Facebook event page.

This workshop follows Lauren's successful September Creative Writing Workshop where eight attendees engaged in two hours of exploration and writing on the Dry Rocks at Belle Island. Each participant left the park with at least one new writing project in the works, and each participant had the opportunity to speak, ask questions, and share their work and thoughts with the group. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive for Lauren's workshops and we encourage anyone interested to attend the October workshop!

The FOJRP Protection and Preservation Fund close to target

River Hero logoThe Friends are VERY CLOSE to hitting our initial target of $100,000 for our Protection and Preservation Fund, which is distinct from our general or operating fund. As of mid-June 2016, the fund stands at $98,677.57.

Long-ago board members had been concerned about having some long-term money available for emergencies and major projects. When the conservation easements were put in place on part of the park system, Molly Dellinger-Wray and others launched this P & P fund, which could contribute to legal fees if those ever were to prove necessary. There are other uses for this money, however.

Please consider contributing to preserve urban wilderness, protect parklands, expand park boundaries, respond to catastrophic events, and enhance educational opportunities.

River Heroes celebrated River Hero logo

The 2016 River Heroes have been announced! Winners are Molly Dellinger-Wray, Tricia Pearsall and Sally Wetzler.

Each year, the Friends of the James River Park acknowledge and honor individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to James River Park.

The award is now called the Ralph White River Hero Award in honor of former Park Manager Ralph White — one of the 2014 River Hero Award recipients.

The award ceremony took place on Tuesday, May 10, on the 15th floor of the Troutman Sanders Building, overlooking the James River.

Read more about the winners.

Nathan Burrell wins Steward of the River Award

Nathan BurrellPark manager Burrell was among the four individuals and one non-profit organization recognized, each with a separately titled award, on April 29 for "measurable, positive impacts on the James River and surrounding communities." The description of why Nathan merits this Guardian Award notes that he "commits his professional and personal time to enhancing Richmond's crown jewel, James River Park. He knows a healthy river is essential to providing outdoor recreation opportunities for all."

JRAC, the James River Advisory Council, sponsors both the annual all-river clean-up in September and the Parade of Lights in December.

Tackling invasive plants in the JRPS

JRPS Invasive Plant Task ForceFriends has taken the lead by sponsoring the development of the James River Park System Invasive Species Management Plan. Phase one is to survey and record the type and location of invasive plant species to determine the relative abundance of these plants throughout the park. Phase two is to remove the invasives. The Friends are primarily responsible for the Reedy Creek/Main Area of the park.

New website!

Learn more about the plan, the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force and how you can help on the new task force website.

Audio Tours Feature Ralph White

audio-tour iconScience in the Park audio tours

Explore the secrets of the James River Parks' unique geology with new smart phone audio tours. Former James River Park Manager Emeritus Ralph White narrates these guided tours, which were produced by Anne Wright for Science In The Park and developed by sound artist Vaughn Whitney Garland. Follow along on your mobile device, guided by live mapping. Read the Times Dispatch article about the tours, and check them out yourself:

headphone icon Take the North Bank Tour or the South Bank Tour.

More audio tours now available!

Ralph WhiteThree more tours are now available to park lovers. You’ll hear about what you are seeing, how it got there, and some of the reasons why the JRPS is special and worth preserving!

  • The Ecology of the River and Shoreline: A Sound History for the Trails of The Pony Pasture
  • Indians To Industry: A Sound History For Belle Isle
  • A Sound History For The Manchester Flood Wall

The above three tours were written and narrated by Ralph White and produced and developed by Vaughn Whitney Garland with financial support from The Friends of the James River Park.

headphone icon Listen to any of the tours listed above at righthereonce.org

Park Improvements

Belle Isle Bike Skills ParkBelle Isle Bike Skills Park

Unless you head straight for the rocks and never venture in the other direction, you may have missed the major new construction at the bike skills area of Belle Isle. $84,000-worth of improvements have created a site that will improve the skills of any cyclist, from beginner to seasoned trails rider.

Award for the Design of 21st Street EntranceAward for the Design of 21st Street Entrance

The Better Housing Coalition gave a 2016 Golden Hammer and People's Choice winner award for "Best Placemaking Project" to the environmentally sustainable entrance to the JRPS between 21st and 22nd Streets. The award was announced in May at TransformRVA: A Day of Celebration, Education & Transformation.

If you haven't seen this, it's very much worth a visit. And keep your ears open for a possible renovation of the Texas Beach/North Bank parking lot area.

Conservation Easement SignConservation Easement Signage

Since 2008, several parcels of the James River Park System have been covered by conservation easements, legal agreements that permanently limit any development on those parcels. Recently, signs have been installed in those areas to alert visitors that they are entering protected places.

Riverfront Plan update

A number of organizations have signed off on a letter to the city of Richmond to urge that additional funds be included in the next budget to implement parts of the riverfront plan, including the completion of the southern end access to the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, as well as components of the plan around the Intermediate Terminal.

Manchester Climbing Wall temporary closing update

The stair access from the base to the top of the Manchester Climbing wall will be closed starting early November 2015 due to construction. Access to the climbing walls will remain open but only from the bottom of the wall and eastern side for access. Fencing will be put up to at the top of the stairs to block access.

Volunteer Opportunities

Social Media Volunteer needed

The Friends is looking for a volunteer to help with social media -- provide frequent posts to Facebook and write content for our monthly e-newsletter. Interested? Contact friends@jamesriverpark.org

FOJRP Volunteer Event

It is scheduled for Saturday, November 12, 9 to noon. Please meet in front of the Reedy Creek headquarters and bring work gloves if you have them. The focus is still removal of invasive species in an area the goats previously cleared. Please register at HandsOnRVA.org (may not yet be opened for registration)

RVA Clean Sweep | Multiple days and times

This meet-up group is devoted to cleaning throughout the city in an effort to improve the quality of the James River and Chesapeake Bay watersheds. Please go to meetup.com/RVA-Clean-Sweep for an opportunity that suits you.

James River Days brochure 2016In Around and For the James River Park

JRAC's James River Days brochure available

If you saw us at our booth on Earth Day or at Dominion Riverrock, you might have picked up a copy of the James River Advisory Council's annual brochure, "James River Days." This is an invaluable resource for activities on and around the river from April through October. Check it out! (PDF)

Have you seen the mobile-friendly James River Park calendar?

The events below are pulled from the global calendar. Many JRPS-friendly organizations are posting their events to this calendar. Check it out!

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!

bike helmetsBike helmets to support the park

I am RVA is a non-profit organization dedicated to bike safety. The Friends of the James River Park organization is one of four 2016 recipients of a percentage of the sales of their Giro-manufactured bike helmets.

To buy a helmet and/or learn more about this group, visit iamrva.com.

$ x 2Matching gifts

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.

amazonsmileFOJRP 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!

more news and events »

Today in the Park

Current weather, water conditions, trails info, activities ...

Map it! Plan your park visit.

Map It!

Listen and Learn! Tune in to our audio tours. headphone icon

Listen and learn with out audio tours

Watch it! Check out these Science in the Park videos.

Otters in the James River Park from Friends of James River Park on Vimeo.

T-shirts and pamphlets for sale!

shopping cartOur 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.

Message from the Richmond Police Department on Summer Safety in the JRPS

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.

James River Park Protection and Preservation Fund

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!

Please Pick Up After Your Pet

Read why it's important to pick up the poop and don't pollute! Catch up on other Canine news as well.


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