Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The results are in - JRA Poster Contest

The James River Association invited middle school students in the City of Richmond, City of Lynchburg, City of James City County, Henrico County and Chesterfield County that are situated within five miles of the James River to illustrate “What a Healthy River Means to Me”.  This year we had over 200 entries that depicted abundant wildlife, fish and river fun!

First Place:
 Michael Herman 
Teacher: Deborah Bodsford
 Manchester Middle School, 
Chesterfield County

Second Place:
Savanna Woods 
Teacher: Deborah Bodsford
Manchester Middle School, Chesterfield County

Third Place:
Grace Randall
Teacher: Donald Mugford
Tomahawk Creek Middle School, C
hesterfield County

Fourth Place:
Grace Chun
Teacher: Michael Webb
Sandusky Middle School, City of Lynchburg

 Honorable Mentions: 

Muryum Yazdanpanah
Teacher: Deborah Bodsford
 Manchester Middle School, Chesterfield County
Grace Larmee 
Teacher: Stephanie Perry
Albert Hill Middle School, City of Richmond
Aaron Vincent
 Teacher: Deborah Bodsford
Manchester Middle School, 
Chesterfield County
Domonique Gordon 
Teacher: Leah Purvis
 Sandusky Middle School, City of Lynchburg
 Paige Grunden
Teacher: Deborah Bodsford
 Manchester Middle School, Chesterfield County

Megan Acheampong 
Teacher: Leah Purvis
Sandusky Middle School,  City of Lynchburg

JRA would like to congratulate the winners and thank all the students and teachers who showed us "What a Healthy River Means to Me"!

The poster contest was made possible through a generous donation by a long-time JRA member and James River Advocate.  Thank you so much for your continued support!

Friday, April 4, 2014

RiverRat Highlight – Anne Norwood

Anne Norwood is one of JRA’s RiverRats. While her day job involves working as a pediatric nurse practitioner, her unpaid job is working in her garden at her home in Lovingston, Virginia.

Her connection with the James is through the Rockfish River where her family bought a farm 20 years ago. It is situated just a mile from the Rockfish River, so her boys grew up floating and fishing the (mighty!) Rockfish and the James. No family or friend’s visit to their farm in summer is complete without a river trip. She said she decided to become a RiverRat because it was “a way to give back for all the pleasure that the rivers have given us, and you get this great hat!”

Anne patrols the Rockfish in Nelson County from US 29 to Schuyler along the Rockfish River Road. “ It’s a gorgeous winding stretch that bends away from the road for miles, has overhanging trees, flowers blooming on the banks, lots of wildlife, and enough drop to be fun,” is how she describes it. She patrols in her canoe that she claims is familiar with every rock.

“There are lots of people who cherish the rivers, understand the importance of the James, both locally and as part of the greater Chesapeake Bay, and are concerned about the health of the waterways.  Being a River Rat is one small thing we can do to raise awareness, clean up our little corner of the playpen, and hopefully improve the legacy of the river.”

If you want to become a RiverRat, join us for one of our upcoming trainings:
Saturday, April 26, 9am-2pm at Boxerwood Gardens and Education Center, Lexington, VA

Saturday, May 3, 9am-2pm at Smithfield Innovation Center, Smithfield, VA

For more information, visit our website (LINK TO RIVERRATS) or contact Amber Ellis, Volunteer Coordinator at aelli@jrava.org

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April is for River Lovers!

JRA has designated April as River Hero Home month! 

All month long we will be offering  tips and ways you can make your home more river-friendly.

What exactly is River Hero Homes?

Every time it rains, fertilizers and herbicides, bacteria from pet waste, chemicals and sediment flows from your property into local waterways. River Hero Homes is JRA’s way of recognizing households that take the extra steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater (and pollution) leaving their property. 

JRA currently has 187 households who have included river-friendly practices and everyday actions to their lifestyles, which have significant impacts on water quality.

If you are interested in becoming a River Hero Home, fill out the on-line application and send us a picture of your river-friendly practice.  Once we approve your application, we will contact you and send your certification materials.

In the meantime, ‘like’ us on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter to receive tips, tricks and info on how you can make a difference!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Become a Citizen Water Quality Monitor

The James Needs YOU to be a Citizen Water Quality Monitor
Many portions of the James River and tributaries are currently impaired due to excessive harmful bacteria. One of the most common questions JRA receives during the summer months is whether it is safe to swim in certain parts of the James River.
JRA launched a water quality monitoring initiative in 2013 across the James River watershed. We are currently looking for volunteers to help us do water testing during the 2014 season. JRA needs your help as a citizen scientist, collecting water samples and recording data to track the environmental health of the River.

As a Citizen Water Quality Monitor you will:
  • Be able to identify types of harmful bacteria 
  • Learn water sampling methods 
  • Be able to collect turbidity and temperature data from the field.
  •  Test sampling locations weekly from May to September
  • Submit data to the JRA's James River Watch website (thejamesriver.org/jrw).  

No monitoring or science background is required. JRA will assign volunteers to sampling teams, and work with each volunteer to help establish a sampling schedule that fits individual schedules and availability. Volunteers already participating in JRA's RiverRat project may count their water monitoring work as an Action Project.

  • Sampling Locations:
  • Jamestown Beach, Williamsburg 
  • City Point, Hopewell 
  • Harvell Dam, Petersburg
  • Grapevine Bridge - Chickahominy River, Sandston
  • Rocketts Landing, Richmond
  • 14th Street Access Point, Richmond 
  • Pipeline Rapids, Richmond 
  • Rope Swing Beach at Tredegar, Richmond
  • Tucker Park, Goochland County 
  • DGIF Public Landing, Scottsville
  • Riveredge Park, Madison Heights
  • Jordan Point Park, Lexington
  • DGIF Public landing, Buchanan

Training Sessions:
  •  Richmond TrainingMarch 27th, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm
    Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), 2nd Floor Conference Room
    629 East main Street, Richmond, VA 23218
  • Scottsville Training April 9th, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm
    Victory Hall Theater
    2nd Floor, 401 Valley Street, Scottsville,  VA 24590
  • Buchanan Training April 17th, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm
    Twin River Outfitters
    653 Lowe Street, Buchanan, VA 24066
  • Lynchburg TrainingApril 15th, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm
    Riveredge Park
    154 Rock Hill Road, Lynchburg, VA 24572
  • Lexington TrainingApril 26th, 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
    Boxerwood Nature Center & Woodland Garden
    963 Ross Road, Lexington, Virginia 24450
  • Goochland TrainingApril 29th, 4:00 pm - 6:30 pm.
    Tucker Park At Maidens Crossing
    Maidens Road, Goochland, VA 23063
  • Williamsburg TrainingMay 8th, 6pm-7:30pm
    Eco Discovery Park
    2054 Jamestown Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23185
  • Richmond Remedial/Practice Open HouseMay 21st, 12 pm - 5 pm
    JRA Richmond Office
    4833 Old Main Street
    Richmond, VA 23231

New or veteran volunteers needing a little extra practice can stop by the JRA office during our monitoring open house. This is a great opportunity to get any remaining questions answered and to practice any of the monitoring tests. Although the open house is informal with no set agenda, registration is still requested

I will embed the registration form as well.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Winter Wetlands

By Christiana Tambone, JRA Lower James River Outreach Coordinator

Wetlands are considered some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet, and no exception is made for those located along the Lower James River and its tributaries. These wetlands are celebrated for removing toxins from the environment, providing habitat for some rare plants and animals, and protecting our communities from flood waters during storm events. These are just a few of the reasons why these fragile areas need to be protected.

But you might ask, what happens when these areas are completely frozen over (like this cold winter)? Do wetlands lose their value until the spring? What can we expect in the spring after such a cold winter? No worries! JRA here to the rescue to give you a quick Wetlands 101.
Yes, this coastal Virginia winter has been unusually (and at some points unbearably) cold and yes, our wetlands have taken the brunt of the freeze. They have remained frozen for a few weeks now, but this has not slowed down their valuable processes in the ecosystem. As a matter of fact, these wetlands have become more efficient with one of the processes they provide: groundwater and surface water recharge.

When the velocity of water flowing to the river is slowed due to freezing temperatures and rising ice levels, the water level in the river will actually rise. Because this happens at a slow pace, it allows for our rivers, their tributaries, and our groundwater to “fill back up” and replenish our drinking and household water supplies.

So what should we expect in spring when all these wetlands begin to melt? Needless to say, there will be a lot of melting going on. Faster flowing waters will carry nutrients to the wetlands and they will then begin their valuable water filtering processes again. Warmer temperatures inspire microorganisms and their macroscopic friends, like amphibians and birds, to come out of hibernation and assist in the breakdown of materials, the irrigation of waterlogged soils, and the fertilization of a fragile ecosystem.

In the end, there are many, many of us on the James River who are looking forward to springtime.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Accepting Applications for the 2014 James River Expeditions

Canoeing through the Allegheny Mountains
 on the Upper James Expedition
JRA’s Education team is gearing up for warm weather and the 2014 James River Expeditions. This year marks the fourth consecutive summer that JRA and the Dominion Foundation have hosted the Expeditions, a series of 8-day journeys that will collectively paddle the 340‐mile length of the James River. This adventure of a lifetime was created to connect young people living within the James River watershed with “their river.” Not only will students be immersed in understanding the health and ecology of the river, but the Expeditions also challenge students mentally and physically, inspiring self-confidence and appreciation for their environment. 

The 2013 Middle James Expedition team preparing 
for the start of their journey in Lynchburg
In order to reach more students than in years past, the 2014 Expeditions will have an open-enrollment application process. Interested rising 10th and 11th grade students from any public high school within the James River watershed are encouraged to fill out an application. Never paddled or camped before?  No problem, there is no experience required to participate!

The 2014 Expeditions also offer a different opportunity for teachers as well. JRA is looking for three outstanding high school teachers, one per leg of the Expedition, to assist JRA in leading these floating classrooms down the James River. Teachers will be awarded a stipend and an educational experience that can help with Professional Development requirements.

A Lower James Expedition student learns about energy
while touring the Dominion Nuclear Power Station in Surry, VA
If chosen, you will join a team of 10 students, one teacher and JRA staff.  The Expedition journeys begin at the headwaters of the James River in June and ends at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay in August. These trips immerse students in the rich ecology, beauty and natural history of one of our country’s greatest natural resources, the best way we know how, from the seat of a canoe.

2014 Expedition Dates:

Upper James Expedition: June 21 through June 28
Middle James Expedition: July 12 through July 19
Lower James Expedition: July 26 through August 2

The application deadline for teachers is Friday, February 21, 2014. The student application deadline is Friday, March 14, 2014.

More information about the 2014 James River Expeditions, including applications, can be found at www.JamesRiverAssociation.org/Expedition. We look forward to seeing you on the water! 

Caption:  Canoeing through the Allegheny Mountains on the Upper James Expedition

Friday, January 31, 2014

New Signs Feature Facts About the Monster Fish of the James

Learn about Atlantic sturgeon and maybe even see one breach near the boat ramp at Ancarrow’s Landing
Do you want to know more about Atlantic sturgeon? If you find yourself in the Richmond area, keep an eye out for JRA’s new interpretive signs. They can be found at the Conch Republic in Rocketts Landing, near the boat ramp at Ancarrow’s Landing and along the Canal Walk at the Turning Basin. The signs were placed at these locations because sturgeon have been known to breach, or jump out of the water, just below the river’s fall line during the summer and fall.

JRA's Lead Educator Intern, Kyle Burnette, and RiverRat volunteer Steve Hill installing the new Atlantic Sturgeon signs.

If you are still curious about sturgeon, there is more! A special documentary on James River sturgeon is scheduled to be released at the Richmond Environmental Film Festival on Sunday, February 9. This film, narrated by JRA and US Fish and Wildlife staff, will highlight the challenges facing sturgeon today, as well as our need to work together to protect the health of river.

Not in the Richmond area?  You can contact Jamie Brunkow, Lower James Riverkeeper, at jbrunkow@jrava.org with your questions and concerns regarding Atlantic sturgeon.