Wednesday, May 1, 2024

May Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • 5/16/2024 - Thursday - Bi-Monthly Meeting: Hampton Roads Transit
    • 5/18/2024 - Saturday - Gardening/Mulching Native Plant Landscaping at Bridge 
    • 6/1/2024 - Saturday - Clean the Bay Day @ Indian River Park
    • No Second Saturday Hike in May
  • News
    • Volunteers needed for gardening
    • Wildlife in the Community
    • Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads
    • Oyster Gardening
    • April Recap
    • Tree Pledge
Upcoming Events

Thursday, May 16: Bi-Monthly Meeting: Hampton Roads Transit
  • Time: 
    7 pm
  • Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive
  • Our guest speaker will be Sherri Dawson from Hampton Roads Transit to give us an update on their Connecting Chesapeake Study.  All are welcome.  There will be door prizes and light refreshments.
Saturday, May 18: Gardening/Mulching Native Plant Landscaping at Bridge 
  • CANCELLED due to the predicted weather and other circumstances.

  • Our main task will be mulching and weeding around the native tree and shrub plantings along the side of Indian River Road at the Oaklette Bridge.  If we have enough folks, we'll do some cleanup under the bridge. We'll have water and snacks available.  We also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles and cans.  
  • Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

Saturday, June1: Clean the Bay Day 
  • Time: 9 AM to Noon
  • Location: Indian River Park trailhead at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2003 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.
  • The Friends of Indian River's will be hosting Clean the Bay Day at the Indian River Park
  • The city will provide garbage bags. We'll have water and snacks available. 
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  Long pants are recommended.  We also always encourage folks to bring their own water in reusable bottles to minimize use of plastic bottles. Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision. 
  • Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/ua3ytZdx2FuHukig9 (suggested but not required)


News

Volunteers need for gardening

We have a regular need for volunteers to help maintain our gardens and plantings both along Indian River Road at the Oaklette Bridge and at the native plant garden at Indian River Park.  This is in addition to our monthly volunteer days.  The tasks include regular weeding and other garden work; some work is small group events during the week; once having completed orientation, some work might be on an individual schedule.  If you are interested in helping out, e-mail us at info@friendsofindianriver.org for more information.

Wildlife in the Community

It's baby season for wildlife and you're likely to see more wildlife activity in the neighborhood.  Foxes, raccoons, rabbits, squirrels, groundhogs, river otters, and many other mammals are busy raising their young.  You are more likely to see them out and about both day and night as they forage to feed their young and seeing them during the day is not any indicator or illness. Likewise, box turtles are on the move and even snakes.  It's the peak of the spring migration and all variety of birds are setting up the nest and laying eggs.  
The city and suburbs are home to a wide variety of wildlife.  If you think about it, the wildlife was actually here first before we built on their land, and it's up to us to co-exist with them. Seeing a fox hustle across your backyard can be a thrill.  There are important steps to avoid conflict with wildlife in your backyard including making sure not to leave food outside, keeping trash in animal proof containers, sealing openings under and into your buildings so animals won't select your home as a place to build a den, and clearing low overhanging tree limbs which may be providing wildlife access to structures.  

Learn more about approaches you can take to solve any wild animal problems you encounter in your home, yard or garden at https://www.humanesociety.org/wildlife-management-solutions 

Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads

The Friends of Indian River have teamed up with the Cape Henry Audubon Society and other regional partners including the Virginia Zoo and Elizabeth River Project to launch the Bird Safe/Lights Out Hampton Roads program.  Hampton Roads lies directly along the Atlantic Flyway and the Chesapeake Bay is a major stopover point for the birds on their marathon migration. Migration is the most dangerous time in the life of a bird.  About 80% of migrating birds make their journey at night.  Lured into urban areas by bright lights, birds often become disoriented, flying in circles and becoming exhausted.  In areas with tall buildings, the risk of building collisions increases.  The Lights Out program is asking commercial and institutional building owners and tenants to minimize unnecessary lights from 11 pm to 6am during the spring migration from March 15 to May 31 and the fall migration from August 15 to November 15. 
While collisions with tall buildings are a major concern, hundreds of millions of birds also die every year from crashing into windows of one and two-story residential homes.  During the day, birds mistake reflections of plants and sky on the windows as a clear flight path that they try to fly through.  At night, illuminated interiors again look like a clear path that can be flown through. Window strikes can happen at any time of year but also tend to increase during spring and fall migration and during breeding season when young birds start flying.  There are several steps you can take to make your windows and yard safer for birds.  To learn more visit http://www.birdsafehr.org/

Another important step to keep wildlife safe is keeping cats indoors.  Domestic cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds in the US every year, even greater than building or structure collisions, and second only to habitat loss/climate change.  Learn more at https://www.allaboutbirds.org/news/faq-outdoor-cats-and-their-effects-on-birds/#

Oyster Gardening

Switching from the skies to the river, if you would like another way to help wildlife flourish and clean up the Indian River, you may want to learn about Oyster Gardening.  If you live along the shore and have a pier or similar structure, then you can help raise baby oysters for use by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for restoration efforts around the Bay including on the Indian River.  To learn more, sign up for one of the New Gardener Seminars at https://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/virginia/oyster-restoration/oyster-gardening/hampton-roads-oyster-gardening-seminars-new-gardeners.html

T-Shirts and Hoodies

We're considering ordering additional T-Shirts and Hoodies for members.  T-shirts material is 90/10 cotton/polyester; hoodies are 80/20 cotton/polyester blend. To cover the cost, short-sleeve T-shirts would be for a donation of $12-$15, long sleeve T-shirts for $15-$18, and Hoodies for $30-$33.  If you are interested in pre-ordering one or more of these, please fill out the online form at https://forms.gle/evK2RvKVoVAn2djt7. We will follow up with you about payment methods and timing.

April Recap

April was a very busy month for the Friends.  We had a great time and met with old and new friends tabling at the Earth Day Festival at Campostella Square Park.  Organized by the Climate Action Network and bringing together various environmental groups from around Chesapeake, we hope this will become an annual event in our watershed.
It is also budget season for the City. The Friends of Indian River submitted feedback to the City Council on funding priorities both in writing and at a public hearing during the City Council meeting.  There are two new funding items in next year's proposed budget that directly affect our area.  One is a Facade Improvement Grant program for the Indian River Area; this would create a competitive, matching grant program for commercial property owners to apply for funding for façade improvements, landscaping and hardscape improvements, signage, outdoor eating areas, and pedestrian enhancements.  The other project is the redesign of the intersection at Military Highway and Rokeby Avenue; this will prohibit left turns from Rokeby Avenue (north or south) onto Military Highway; although designated as a Safety Improvement Project, we have previously raised concerns that the preliminary designs did not include a pedestrian crossing of Military Highway at Rokeby.  Since this is the primary path to reach Indian River Park, this is a major design oversight that we want to see corrected.

We are also concerned about several projects that have been previously funded that have not moved forward including Indian River Road bike lanes, the Philmont Avenue Septic System Disconnection and Replacement, Norfolk Highlands Stormwater Management Improvements, and the Oaklette Bridge Repair. We urged the City Council to get these projects start soon. 

We were also very troubled when we saw a proposal from the Planning Department to remove Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CBPA) protection from over 1000 acres of land in Chesapeake, including 10 acres of woods at the head of the tide of the Indian River at the Indian River High School/Middle School campus. The CBPA is one of our most effective tools for protecting the water quality of the many waterways that cross our City and a very important tool for protecting our vanishing tree canopy.  We objected that the parcel along the Indian River clearly met the CBPA criteria and asked the City Council to Continue (defer) any decision until these changes could be more thoroughly reviewed.  The Planning Department did ultimately ask for a 60-day Continuance to do better outreach and did respond that the removal of the 10 acres of woods in our area was done in error and will not be removed.  But we still believe more review is needed of other areas to make sure they are being properly protected, including a large tract of forested wetlands in the Fernwood Farms/Riverwalk area.  

As part of our hands-on efforts, late in the month, sailors from the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) came out to Indian River Park today to work on removing invasive English Ivy smothering trees in the park and helping at the native plant garden.  This was part of the ship's Thousand Points of Light program, inspired by the late President Bush’s legacy and life of service, to help make our community a better place one act at a time!  We were very grateful for the help from sailors, also thank our dedicated Friends of Indian River volunteers who came out to help guide the efforts, and thank Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism for providing tools and supplies for the work day!

Tree Pledge

Will you take our Tree Pledge to protect trees in our community?  
Click here to help protect trees: https://forms.gle/xNCG9XMuBWPExmWt6

Have an idea for an article for our newsletter?  Send your submission, max 250 words, to us at info@friendsofindianriver.org along with a photo and we'll consider it for our next edition.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Earth Day 2024

   Here is a list of 50 Ways to Help Our Planet for Earth Day - and everyday!


Garden

1.       Eliminate or minimize use of herbicides and pesticides
Pesticides, including insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides, are designed to kill weeds, insects, rodents, and mold.  By definition, these toxic chemicals can be poisonous to wildlife, pets, people, and especially children.  So use best practices in your garden to reduce or eliminate the need for these chemicals.  https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/reducewastepesticides.pdf
2.       Reduce use of fertilizers
Plants need fertilizer to grow, but most homeowners use much more than necessary.  When too much fertilizer is used or when it is applied at the wrong time, rainfall will wash excess fertilizer out of yards and into our streams and rivers.  This fertilizer overload causes severe issues like algae blooms and dead zones that kills aquatic life. https://www.lynnhavenrivernow.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Pages-from-water-friendly-lawn-care-updated-publication.pdf
3.       Reduce storm water runoff
Stormwater runoff – excess rain draining from properties - is a leading cause of water quality problems. Rainfall or snowmelt from suburban lawns, golf courses, and paved surfaces picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, washing them into our waterways and into ground waters.   Capturing and keeping more rainwater in your garden allows it to soak in or evaporate, thus reducing both pollution and flooding.  Learn about projects you can do to reduce runoff at https://vaswcd.org/vcap.
4.       Reduce size of your lawn
There are about 40 million acres of lawns in the U.S., making it the largest irrigated “crop” in the country.  Americans spend about $30 billion –and countless hours – every year tending to their lawns.  And lawns are ultimately biological deserts of minimal ecological value.   Replacing areas of your lawn with more plants can yield significant environmental benefits. https://www.udel.edu/academics/colleges/canr/cooperative-extension/fact-sheets/turf-grass-madness-reasons-to-reduce-the-lawn-in-your-landscape/
5.       Grow a vegetable garden
Creating a vegetable garden rather than mowing a lawn has many health benefits, provides you with the freshest fruits and vegetables, and let’s you manage what fertilizers and pesticides touch your food.   Such gardens can come in many sizes from balcony container gardens to mini-farms.   https://ext.vt.edu/lawn-garden/home-vegetables.html
6.       Protect existing trees
There is nearly an endless list of benefits from trees including providing shade, cutting electric bills for cooling, improving air quality, reducing stormwater runoff, enhancing beauty, providing homes for wildlife, increasing property values, and even improving mental health and happiness.  Read the “owner’s manual” on how to keep your trees strong and healthy. https://www.treesaregood.org/treeowner/treeownersmanual
7.       Plant more trees
We need to protect the existing trees and we need to plant more trees.   As the proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  It is also important to pick the right tree for the right place.  Learn more about selecting trees and proper planting techniques at https://www.arborday.org/trees/tips/
8.       Plant native plants/plant pollinator garden
Your choice of plants is a big factor in how much environmental benefit they provide.  Plants are at the base of the food web for wildlife and research clearly shows that plants that are native to an area – plants that co-evolved with local insects – provide dramatically more wildlife benefit than ornamental plants from distant lands.  So go native as much as you can!  https://www.yesmagazine.org/environment/2020/02/07/yard-sustainability-native-plants/
9.       Live in harmony with wildlife
As human populations grow and our cities and towns expand across the landscape, so have our interactions with wildlife.  Many species have adapted to living alongside people in our suburban and even urban areas.   Hundreds of species of birds, countless insects from beetles to bees to butterflies, snakes and lizards, and larger creatures such as foxes and raccoons make their homes and live their lives in our communities.  With proper care and respect, observing these creatures can enrich all our lives.  https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/habitat/
Home
10.   Become a River Star or Bay Star Home
Make a commitment to be a better steward of the environment, get more tips on how to use better practices, and in some cases be eligible for financial support on projects. 
https://elizabethriver.org/river-star-homeshttp://askhrgreen.org/programs/bay-star-homes/
11.   Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.  But Most of All – Reduce.
The average American throws away 4.5 lbs of stuff every single day, 365 days per year.  Only a small fraction of all this stuff ever gets recycled and much of it is not easily recyclable.   We’ve all heard of the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  But perhaps the most important step is to Reduce first – avoid getting single use products and packages that you’ll toss almost immediately.    https://www.nrdc.org/stories/reduce-reuse-recycle-most-all-reduce
12.   Donate old items in good condition to thrift stores
Before you throw away that item, consider whether it has a second life.  Is it in good condition?  Would it be something you would give to a friend?  If so, consider donating it to a local thrift store.   It can then benefit the charity, provide a low cost item to someone else in your community, keep it out of the landfill, and make you feel good!  https://www.today.com/style/what-thrift-stores-want-you-know-you-make-donation-t162979
13.   Share tools and equipment with neighbors rather than buying your own
Ever need that one tool that one time?    Should you really hop on your favorite e-commerce site and order it?   How about hopping on your local community group on social media and asking if you can borrow the tool.  Odds are someone has it and may be willing to let you borrow it for the afternoon.  https://learn.eartheasy.com/articles/how-to-start-a-neighborhood-tool-share/
14.   Opt out of junk mail
Americans receive millions of tons of junk mail every year.  That’s cumulatively, but many may feel they get that much just themselves.  And much of it goes straight into the recycling bin.  Here are some options for cutting down on how much you get in your mailbox.  https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-stop-junk-mail_n_5b27beb7e4b056b2263c5b54
15.   Turn off unused lights and switch to LED light bulbs
Starting with the oldest tip – turn off unused lights – to the newest – replace light bulbs as they fail with LED bulbs.   The price of LED’s has dropped dramatically over the years, they use 90% less electricity than incandescents, they have no toxic chemicals, and they practically last forever. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money/led-lighting
16.   Adjust your thermostat
You can save 10% of your heating and cooling bill by adjusting your thermostat for at least 8 hours per day.    And heating and cooling costs can easily be more than half of the average home’s electric bill – usually much more during our hot and humid summers.  https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/programmable-thermostats
17.   Wash full loads of laundry in colder water
Most of the cost – and energy usage – in doing laundry goes to heating water.  Washing in cold water uses 90% less electricity.  Also washing in cold water gets the clothes just as clean in typical situations and is more gentle on the clothing.  https://www.csmonitor.com/Business/The-Simple-Dollar/2012/0119/Here-s-exactly-how-much-you-ll-save-doing-laundry-in-cold-water
18.   Look for the Energy Star label when buying new appliances
When you're shopping for appliances or electronics, you have to think both short term and long term.  There is the cost of buying the appliance but also the cost of operating it year after year, which is usually much more than the cost to buy it.   Looking at the Energy Star label, you can see how much it will cost to run the product so you can buy the more efficient products.  You’ll save money year after year and save the planet.  https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/appliances-and-electronics/shopping-appliances
19.   Winterize your home for winter and summer savings
“Winterizing” your home actually saves you money both in the winter and the summer.  Taking steps to insulate your home and seal cracks keeps warm air inside in the winter, but it also keeps cool air inside in the summer.   Both can result in major cost and energy savings! https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/interior-projects/how-to/g52/winterize-home-tips-energy-461008/
20.   Get a home or workplace energy audit to identify where you can make the most energy-saving gains
You can work with Dominion Energy to have a professional do a Home Energy Assessment of your home and identify more ways to save energy and money.  https://www.domsavings.com/my-home
Shopping/Eating out
21.   Say no to single use plastic bottling – bring your own reusable bottle or mug
In a nation where almost all Americans (but sadly not all) have access to clean, safe drinking water, we consume water in single use plastic bottles at the rate of 100,000 PER MINUTE; 50 billion bottles per year.   And 77% of these bottles never ever reach the recycling center.   Be healthier, save money, save the planet - bring your own water from home!   https://gogreentravelgreen.com/bring-water-bottle/
22.   Avoid single use plastic packaging
Our society is drowning in single use plastic items – from plastic bags to impossible to open “blister” packs, from plastic water bottles to fruit clamshells.   These items will last nearly forever but are trash after the initial use.  Most are not readily recyclable.  Plastic production from new petroleum resources is projected to increase by 40% over the next 10 years, and the oil and gas industry is expecting this to be a major revenue source.  Take action to reverse this trend.  https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/
23.   Shop local          
By shopping local you support your local community and reduce transportation costs.   And when buying locally produced food, such as from farmer markets, you support local agriculture. https://www.metrofamilymagazine.com/15-reasons-to-shop-locally/
24.   Combine online deliveries into a single delivery
Online shopping is convenient.  But having a steady stream of delivery vehicles cruising city streets to drop off more and more cardboard boxes and bags at your door is certainly not ideal for reducing waste or pollution.    Reduce your impact by combining your orders and deliveries into as few shipments as possible, such as by setting an “Amazon Day” https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/online-shopping-carbon-footprint-1.4914942
25.   Go Meatless at least once a week
Livestock operations have significant negative environmental impacts, from the amount of land and water consumed to the amount of animal waste produced.   Skipping meat once a week can have a major benefit for the ecosystem. https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/vegetarian-and-special-diets/going-meatless-once-a-week
26.   Buy organic and local whenever possible
The USDA Organic certification gives you confidence that it was grown pesticide-free.  Locally grown food helps local farmers and reduces transportation costs.  Locally grown organic is the best of both worlds.   Learn about your food choices and make the best choices! https://www.food.ee/blog/is-it-better-to-buy-local-or-organic/
27.   Bring your own reusable container for leftovers at restaurant
Want a do-it-yourself solution to avoid getting those Styrofoam containers for leftovers when you go to a restaurant?  (Remember back when we ate out).   Come prepared, bring your own reusable food storage containers in a small bag and fill them yourself with your leftovers.   https://www.kitchenstewardship.com/monday-mission-pack-reusable-containers-for-restaurant-leftovers/
28.   Buy second hand from thrift stores or friends
Why buy new when there are perfectly good items looking for a new home at your local thrift store?  You avoid the need to manufacture a new product using raw materials, keep an item out of the landfill, save money, and likely help a local good cause.  http://www.greenandprosperous.com/blog/2017/10/11/how-does-thrift-shopping-help-you-save-the-environment
29.   Buy Less, Live More
Focusing on life’s simple pleasures-  like spending time in nature, being with loved ones, making a difference to others – can  provide more purpose, belonging and happiness than buying and consuming.  https://www.tbd.community/en/a/consumerism-benefits-buying-less

Transport
30.   Bike instead of driving for some of your trips
Choosing your bike over your car has multiple benefits – reducing fuel use and carbon emissions, saving wear and tear on your vehicle, reducing traffic congestion, and providing you with exercise.   https://biofriendlyplanet.com/environmental-reasons-to-start-riding-your-bicycle-more/
31.   Walk instead of driving for short errands
Ever drive from one side of a parking lot to the other?   Take the car to go to the post office down the street?   By walking instead of driving you again reduce pollution from your car and get great exercise.  So park that car and get moving!  https://blog.lionel.edu/car-vs.-feet
32.   Combine trips to reduce driving
When you do drive, combine several errands in one trip.   And plan your route in advance to line up destinations efficiently and avoid having to backtrack.  And a tip from UPS – when planning your trip, minimize making left turns because they result in more wasted time and fuel. https://afdc.energy.gov/conserve/behavior_techniques.html
33.   Improve your gas mileage by taking care of your car
There are many easy ways to improve your gas mileage, starting with making sure your tires are properly inflated and your air filters are clean.   Also go easy on the gas pedal, avoiding “jack rabbit” starts and driving too fast. https://www.theautochannel.com/news/2007/06/29/053777.html
34.   Make sure your next car has better gas mileage - or go electric
Hybrids and EV cars now so a clear lifecycle reduction in CO2 emissions.  The trick may be finding one as demand ramps up.  https://climate.mit.edu/ask-mit/are-electric-vehicles-definitely-better-climate-gas-powered-cars
Business
35.   Telecommute
A lot of businesses have been required to practice telecommuting for the first time this year.  If they decide to retain this option for employees long term, at least some of the time, they can provide significant environmental benefits to the world.   Thousands of cars could be removed from the road and traffic congestion relieved.  Employers could also save costs on heating and cooling buildings.  And employees could save hundreds of hours of time commuting each year.  https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/telecommuting-sustainability-how-telecommuting-is-a-green-job/
36.   Reduce energy consumption
Businesses can also save money by adopting a variety of energy saving practices, some as simple as making sure unused lights and equipment are powered down.  https://www.dominionenergy.com/our-stories/energy-saving-tips-at-the-office
37.   Switch to renewal energy providers
Renewable solar and wind energy continue to decline dramatically in cost, making them competitive with gas powered and cheaper than coal powered generation.    Business can either install solar and wind directly or buy via renewal energy contracts. https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/9-ways-businesses-can-benefit-renewable-energy.php  https://www.utilitydive.com/news/renewables-cheaper-energy-than-99-percent-of-us-coal-plants-just-energy-transition/642393/
38.   Establish a workplace recycling program
Businesses often generate large amounts of recyclable materials.  To be a good corporate citizen, the first step for a successful program is a waste audit, including reviewing how to reduce waste before it happens.   For items you can’t reduce/eliminate or reuse, the next step is setting up a recycling program.   Learn how at https://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/start-office-recycling-program.html
39.   Reduce waste and improve your company’s environmental footprint
Reducing waste saves money while conserving both natural resources and energy – “waste not, want not”.  Reducing your waste is also a practice that provides positive customer public relations for businesses.  More than just recycling, waste reduction looks for various ways to reduce a company’s environmental footprint. https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/how-your-business-can-cut-costs-by-reducing-wastes
40.   Reduce business travel
Traveling long distances for business meetings has a major environmental impact, not to mention being expensive and time consuming.  Sometimes there is nothing that can replace the impact of a face to face meeting, but with today’s technology a tele- or video conference will often be sufficient. https://www.trondent.com/sustainable-business-travel/
Advocacy
41.   Never litter – and lend a hand by picking up litter when you are out and about
Litter happens … whether from carelessness, neglect, irresponsibility, or mistakes.  Make a pledge to never litter.  And when you see litter, pick it up if you can.  Research shows that people are less likely to litter if an area is already litter free.   And discourage the use of single use, disposable packaging when possible.   https://kab.org/goals/end-littering/
42.   Join community cleanups
Many locales have regular cleanups through programs like Adopt-A-Highway, Adopt-A-Park, The Great American Cleanup, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.  Go out and lend a hand! https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/1272/Beautification-Cleanups
43.   Follow the Friends of Indian River on Facebook
Get the latest environmental tips and updates from the Friends of Indian River.  Follow us on Facebook.  
https://www.facebook.com/FriendsofIndianRiver/
44.   Volunteer with the Friends of Indian River and other local environmental organizations
We are always looking for volunteers to help on a broad array of activities.  From cleanups to advocacy, the efforts of volunteers are what makes non-profits effective.  Check with our  volunteer calendar at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/calendar.html or browse https://www.volunteerhr.org/
45.   Participate in the activities of city boards and commissions
There are several city boards and commissions, in addition to the CEIC, that deal with environmentally related issues.  These include the Chesapeake Agricultural Advisory Commission, Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area (CPBA) Board , Chesapeake Bicycles/Trails Advisory Committee (BTAC) , and the Stormwater Committee.  https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/1204/Boards-Commissions
46.   Make your voice heard at the Planning Commission and City Council
The Planning Commission and City Council deal with many land use issues and overall city policies.  The Planning Commission has public hearings on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.  The City Council has public hearings on most Tuesday evenings. 
https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/1345/Planning-Commission
https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/1158/City-Council
47.   Become an environmental and conservation advocate
As a citizen and a constituent, you have the power to contact your elected officials at the city, state, and federal level about issues that are important to you.    Tools include e-mails, letters, in person meetings, comments at public hearings, and even letters to the editor of local newspapers.  https://maineaudubon.org/advocacy/tips-for-effective-citizen-advocacy/
48.   Share the Knowledge/Be a Good Example
Share what you know and be a good example for others.   Model good behavior and others are more likely to trust you and change their own behaviors https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/six_ways_to_help_people_change.
49.   Vote
Elections matter.  Research the candidates running for office and support candidates who best support your goals.  And make sure you register and vote.  If you can’t get to the polls, make sure you apply for an absentee ballot. https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/VoterInformation
50.   Go outside, enjoy nature, and bring a friend – building a love of nature will encourage everyone to protect our Earth
Study after study shows that getting out in nature improves health and happiness.  And people won’t protect the natural world around us unless they learn to appreciate it.   One lesson we hopefully take from the recent crisis is that we need more natural areas in our cities.  (Please follow physical distancing rules as required).  
https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_happens_when_we_reconnect_with_nature




Originally published for Earth Day 2020 - the 50th Anniversary.  Now with updated links.

Monday, April 1, 2024

April Newsletter and Events

Join us on Saturday, April 20th for an Earth Day Festival at Campostella Square Park (next to the Cuffee Center).  There will be games, music, and educational activities. There will also be free native trees and plants available for adoption, thanks to the Virginia Cooperative Extension - Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council Tree Board. Come out and celebrate Earth Day! 

  • Upcoming Events
    • 4/13/2024 - Saturday - Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park
    • 4/20/2024 - Earth Day Festival
  • News
    • Proposed City Budget
    • Our Updated Goals 
    • March Recap
    • Tree Pledge
Upcoming Events

Saturday, April 13: Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park 
  • Time: 
    9 am to 11 am
  • Location: Meet at the Indian River Park entrance at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2001 Rokeby Ave.) which is located just south of Military Highway, i.e. across Military Highway from the Fire Station.
  • Join us for a walk in the park. Learn about the history of the park, the native trees and plants in this century old forest on the Indian River flood plain, and its value to maintaining the health of local butterfly, bird, and wildlife populations. Note: the forest trail has uneven surfaces and minor elevation changes.
  • Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/3n3UAgoa6WQv9hAM6 (suggested but not required)
Saturday, April 20: Earth Day Festival 
  • Time: 12 pm to 4 pm
  • Location: Campostella Square Park, 2019 Windy Road (next to Cuffee Center)
  • Come out for Chesapeake's first big Earth Day festival at Campostella Square Park. There will be games, music, and educational activities. There will be free native trees and plants available for adoption, thanks to the Virginia Cooperative Extension - Chesapeake and the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council Tree Board. Come out and celebrate Earth Day! 



News

Proposed City Budget

The proposed City Budget for 2024-2025 was released by the City Manager on Tuesday 3/26.  The Capital Improvement Program proposes two new items that directly affect the Indian River area:
  • An Indian River Façade Improvement Grant (#16-290) would allocate $40K per year to fund a competitive grant program allowing commercial property owners in the Indian River Planning Area to apply for funding to facilitate improvements that may include, but are not limited to, façade improvements, landscaping and hardscape improvements, signage, outdoor eating areas, and pedestrian enhancements. The 1:1 matching grants will be approved and undertaken by the Chesapeake Economic Development Authority on a case-by-case basis, with all applications being reviewed by an interdepartmental committee.  These kinds of grants have been established for Great Bridge and South Norfolk and getting them for our area has been one of our goals.  
  • $2.3M is budgeted to rebuild the intersection of Military Highway and Rokeby Avenue (#41-290), with design funding starting in 2026.  The redesign will prohibit left turns from Rokeby Avenue (north or south) onto Military Highway. We're concerned that the preliminary designs did not include a pedestrian crossing of Military Highway at Rokeby.  We've already raised this issue with the City and we plan to re-iterate that the design must include a pedestrian and bicycle crossing at this intersection to provide access to Indian River Park.
There are several other projects in the budget that have been previously funded, but that we are still waiting to see construction start.  These include:
  • (#65-230) Philmont Ave Septic System Disconnection (and replacement by sanitary sewer system) - this project has been delayed so long that $1.1M of appropriations in this project lapsed as of November 19, 2023. This amount will need to be reappropriated as of July 1, 2024.  It now has an estimated completion date of December 2025.
  • (#52-250) Norfolk Highlands Stormwater Improvements - $620K in 2025, $500K in 2026, $1.32M in prior years funding 
  • (#40-270) Indian River Road Bike Lanes - $130K in prior years funding
  • (#56-230) Oaklette Bridge (Indian River Road) - Replacement/Repair - $6.4M in prior years funding 
The good news is that work is underway on several projects, including construction of the new Blue Heron Landing Park and design work for the Cuffee Community Center Pool.
  •  (#50-270) Indian River Road [Commercial] Design Guidelines - $175K in prior years funding 
  •  (#15-240) Blue Heron Landing Park - $1.5M in prior years funding
  •  (#72-270) Cuffee Community Center Pool - $20M in prior years funding 
The Public Hearing on the Budget at the City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, April 23. We are planning to make comments about our priorities at the hearing.  You can find the full proposed budget at Budget Department | Chesapeake, VA (cityofchesapeake.net)

Our Updated Goals

The mission of the Friends of Indian River is to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods of Chesapeake, Virginia, by promoting and preserving a healthy and clean river, shorelines, parks, and green spaces connected to the surrounding community.

We've updated our goals to reflect our current efforts to:
  • promote attractive streetscapes, 
  • encourage sustainable gardening and landscaping methods, 
  • promote and preserve a healthy and clean river, shorelines, parks, and green spaces connected to the surrounding community,
  • energize local business development, 
  • and support broader civic activities to improve the community.
These include our on-going cleanup activities, garden maintenance, and work at local parks.  They also reflect our work to protect and plant more trees, recruit more River Star Homes and Businesses, improve safety of our streets, and revitalize our "Main Street" along Indian River Road.  

Take a look at our full list of goals at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/goals.html

March Recap

It was a rainy month and both our Second Saturday Hike and Adopt-A-Road Cleanup were rained out.  We did have an excellent discussion about the City Comprehensive Plan Update - and City Planning in general at our March meeting.  

A big thank you to everyone who became a new member or renewed their membership in March.  We met our spring membership drive goal, raising $1620.  But it's not too late to join!  The Friends of Indian River are an all-volunteer, local, 501(c)(3) non-profit, and we depend on member contributions to advance our mission to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods.  You can become a member, renew your membership, or just make a contribution online at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html


Tree Pledge

Will you take our Tree Pledge to protect trees in our community?  
Click here to help protect trees: https://forms.gle/xNCG9XMuBWPExmWt6





Striving to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods of Chesapeake, Virginia, by promoting and preserving a healthy and clean river, shorelines, parks, and green spaces connected to the surrounding community.

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