Rainy Day Virtual-Visit to Chapel Island with JRA

The James River Association is a lead organizational partner of the JRPS Invasive Task Force and has been stewarding Chapel Island since 2014!

Check out what’s blooming on Chapel Island this month and enjoy some scenes from the James River in this video by Amber Ellis, JRA’s Senior Watershed Restoration Manager.

Amber Ellis, JRA

Watch:  Rainy Walk on Chapel Island

For more information on garlic mustard, including how and when to remove it, you can find a fact sheet at Blue Ridge PRISM.

2/23 – 2/29: Task Force Hosts National Invasive Species Awareness Week Events!

For the third consecutive year the JRPS Invasive Plant Task Force will make National Invasive Species Awareness Week a local happening. Please join us at one (or more!) of our volunteer opportunities, walks, or talks. Check the calendar for details (coming soon!).

SUNDAY 2/23  1:00-4:00 p.m.  Pony Pasture

  • Invasive Ecology 101: stop by our tent for an introduction to why invasive plants are a problem, how to identify the most common local bad actors, and what to do about them for healthier habitat.
  • Volunteer opportunity (Free A Tree and more! See calendar)
  • Guided walks with professional botanist and Task Force member Robert Wright at 1:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.
  • Did we mention goats?  Yes, if you’ve been feeling goat-deprived, you will get the chance to see RVA Goats in action and learn about the role they can play in invasive plant management.

MONDAY 2/24 — THURSDAY 2/27  

More volunteer opportunities at:

  • Chapel Island/Great Shiplock Park (Monday 1:00-3:00 p.m.)
  • Texas Beach (Tuesday 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.)
  • Buttermilk Trail (Wednesday 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.)
  • Belle Isle (Thursday 9:00-noon)

FRIDAY 2/28, 7:00-10:00 p.m.: PARTY at The Westover (formerly Westover Station), 5047 Forest Hill Avenue

Experience the music of the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra and get to know your fellow invasive plant warriors over your favorite beverage instead of your favorite pruners or handsaw.

SATURDAY 2/29, 10:30 a.m.-noon: Reedy Creek Headquarters/Nature Center (4001 Riverside Drive)

“Heritage Matters” with Rob Evans, Natural Areas Protection Manager, Division of Natural Heritage, VA Department of Conservation and Recreation Learn why “heritage matters” when it comes to selecting plants for your own yard and how to control invasive plant species as you nurture your own corner of heavenly habitat. 30 minute lecture followed by ID walk and optional field work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes Invasive Plant Warriors Are Four-Legged

The JRPS Invasive Task Force recently enlisted professional help with battling invasive plant cover, primarily wintercreeper vines and Chinese privet shrubs, at Huguenot Woods Flatwater, the  westernmost unit of the James River Park System.

A job well done; time to ruminate.

Twenty-one goats and sheep plus “watchdonkey” Ruth Ann from RVA Goats were stationed for nearly two weeks near the canoe and kayak launch within a large electric fence enclosure.  Their task:  to knock back the dense vining groundcover and understory shrub thickets that have obliterated native plant populations, easing the next stage of management for their human colleagues.

The RVA Goats work site is just a small part of the 36.4 acre Huguenot Woods Flatwater park system unit.

Huguenot Woods Flatwater may be the park system unit most severely impaired by invasive plant species cover. Most of the area is “in the red” with invasive plant  impacts exceeding 75% cover as demonstrated in the 2015 Baseline Study inventory map.  The Task Force inventory team  identified 21 different invasive plant species during the late summer 2015 assessment.

The impact on Huguenot’s tree canopy is the most horrifying with nearly every tree heavily cloaked in choking, draping wintercreeper vines.  These trees are certain to die prematurely and to not be succeeded because seedlings and sapling struggle to survive, let alone thrive, under the impenetrable carpet of vines that also rob trees of water and nutrients.

Conditions at Huguenot Woods Flatwater make it an ideal location to deploy an advance team of workers who tend to eat just about anything.  There is little risk of collateral damage to native plant populations because in areas of invasive  monoculture  there aren’t surviving native species communities of herbaceous plants (i.e., grasses, vines, and spring, summer, or fall wildflowers) or shrubs.

You might find Huguenot Woods Flatwater discouraging . . . or you might find it inspiring.   We never heard a complaint from any of the goats and sheep (even through the late September heat wave) and we’re pretty sure that if they could speak our language they’d say, “Could you give us a hand? How about two? Come save a tree!”

Rootstock Revival at Pony Pasture

Sometimes giving biodiversity a boost comes down to the simplest ingredients: digging a hole, watering it, and popping in a scrappy little bundle of roots.

Next spring and summer the demonstration restoration area by the rapids and kiosk at Pony Pasture should have some added color – the purple of Virginia Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) and the yellow of Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum). Rescued “rootstock” of both of these locally native species came to us from a site slated for development; members of the Riverine chapter of the Virginia Master Naturalists took the opportunity to diversify the herbaceous layer in this area where volunteers have been working to remove invasive wintercreeper ground cover.  Both species are well-suited to wooded, riparian habitat.

Might the root system be the source of the “spider” in the common name “Spiderwort”? We thought they resembled calamari!

We soon will be adding new volunteer days this fall to continue reclaiming this area from wintercreeper.  Be a habitat hero and join us!  Details will be posted on the Task Force calendar.

 

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

NISAW_2019

Learning and hands-on opportunities are scheduled in the park system Feb. 24 through March 2 as part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week.  Providing advice and hands-on experience will be members of the local volunteer groups making up the park system’s Invasive Plant Task Force.

Task Force coordinator Mary Wickham says, “The goal of our NISAW events is to encourage Richmonders to see the park system and their own yards differently. A little work goes a long way, and if we control the invasive plants at our own homes, we help improve the health of the park system and the James River watershed.”

Throughout the week from Monday, Feb. 25, through Saturday, March 2, you can join park staff and Task Force volunteers to remove invasives in a different area each day.

Click on the schedule above to see a PDF of all activities.

 

Fall/Winter Volunteer Days Begin Again at Pony Pasture

Sure, everyone loves just hanging out by the rapids, contemplating the force of the river, soothed by the sound of the roaring water. But . . . How can you truly relax knowing the park right behind you is being eaten alive by invasive plant species!?!?  That’s how I feel anyway.   So come join me and other Riverine chapter Virginia Master Naturalists as we expand our restoration area next to the Pony Pasture rapids by continuing to remove the carpet of wintercreeper and plucking out the resprouting wintercreeper in the section now thriving with native perennials, shrubs, and trees.   We will be there most Tuesday mornings starting at 9:00 a.m. between now and mid-December plus Sunday afternoon, November 11th. (We’ll add new winter dates after that.) Be sure to check our calendar: http://www.calendarwiz.com/calendars/list.php?crd=jrpcalendar&op=cal&month=10&year=2018

Showing your love for our park system by helping to save it makes the sound of those rapids even more like music to the ears . . .

 

Not Everything Green Is Good for the James River Park System

Not Everything Green Is Good for the James River Park System

Being “green” doesn’t always equal being “good.”

Many of the plants that are now green in the James River Park System actually threaten habitat for native birds, butterflies and other creatures.

Many of these plants are not native to our continent and are invasive species.  Chances are some of them are in your neighborhood, and maybe even in your own yard.

Bikers, hikers, kayakers, home gardeners, families — everyone can lend a hand in managing these unwanted visitors.

The first step is to learn what they are, what they look like and how to deal with them, in your yard as well as in the park.

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Learning and hands-on opportunities are scheduled in the park system Feb. 25 through March 2 as part of National Invasive Species Awareness Week.  Providing advice and hands-on experience will be members of the local volunteer groups making up the park system’s Invasive Plant Task Force.

Task Force coordinator Mary Wickham says, “The goal of our NISAW events is to encourage Richmonders to see the park system and their own yards differently. A little work goes a long way, and if we control the invasive plants at our own homes, we help improve the health of the park system and the James River watershed.”

Here are some of the things you, your family and your friends can enjoy:

The KickOff from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at Pony Pasture will explain invasives’ impact on local ecosystems and show you how to identify and remove the worst culprits. You can “free a tree” from invasive vines, take a guided walk with botanist Johnny Townsend, see the popular goats that devour the invasives, and possibly win a native plant to take home.

Watch talented botanical artists with the Plants of the James River Project at work at the Reedy Creek Nature Center from 2-4 p.m.  Friday, March 2, and take home their invasive species coloring book.

Throughout the week from Monday, Feb. 26, through Friday, March 2, you can join park staff and Task Force volunteers to remove invasives in a different area each day.


The James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force is a partnership of 12 local organizations that joined forces in 2015 to address invasive plant coverage in the park. The Task Force partnered with VHB, Inc. to survey invasive plants for a baseline study that year and since then has collaborated to manage invasive plants and to restore habitat by planting native species in project focus areas.

For more information, contact Mary Wickham, marywickham51@gmail.com