Sunday, October 6, 2019

October Newsletter and Events

In this month's issue, we have:
- Monthly Meeting -  Living Harmoniously with Owls, Thursday, October 17
     - Dana Lusher of Nature's Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation will talking to us about owls and  bring one or more rescue owls to the meeting for us to meet!  Great opportunity for all ages.
- Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park, Saturday, October 19
- Indian River Park Guide Hike, Saturday, November 2
- Other News

Monthly Meeting - Living Harmoniously with Owls
Date: Thursday, October 17, 7 pm
Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA

Dana Lusher of Nature's Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation will talking to us about owls and their important role in the ecosystem.  Plans are for her and her assistants to bring one or more rescue owls to the meeting for us to meet and learn about these unique creatures.  A great opportunity for all ages.  

There will be light refreshments and door prizes after the meeting.

Adopt-A-Park Volunteer Work Day
Date: Saturday, October 19
9:00 am to Noon

Meet at the park entrance at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2001 Rokeby Ave.)

We'll be tending to the native plant garden at the park entrance.  We also have a lot of mulch to spread, so we need some strong backs, wheelbarrows, and pitch forks!  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves. If you can, bring shovels, rakes, pruners, saws and other gardening tools.  

We will have water and lots of snacks. (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.

Indian River Park Guided Hike
Date: Saturday, November 2
8:30 am to 10:30 am
Meet at the park entrance at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2001 Rokeby Ave.)

Join us for a hike along the nature trail and through 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.

Chesapeake Recycles Day is on Saturday, October 12th, 9 am to noon, at Greenbrier Mall.  Learn more at

Rokeby Garden Club, is holding their next monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 16 from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Rokeby Center. This month learn what it takes to prepare your fall gardens for spring, including info on soil preparation, bulbs, annuals and perennials that grow in Hampton Roads.  This is for residents "55 and better" who love plants and gardening. FREE plant giveway.  No registration is required. For more information call or visit the Rokeby Center at 757-822-6259.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation VoiCeS class starts on October 16.  Want to learn how our ecosystem works, how to help take on the many challenges confronting it, and meet some great people with similar interests? If so, we recommend that you take the Chesapeake Bay Foundation—Hampton Roads Office VoiCeS class. Classes meet six consecutive Wednesdays, October 16th through November 20th, 5:45pm – 7:45pm each night at the Jordan-Newby Anchor Branch Library at Broad Creek.  For more info and to register, visit

Thank you to the 10 volunteers who joined us for our 2nd Annual River Cleanup, part of the International Coastal Cleanup. Over 3 hours, we collected over 1000 bottles, cans, food wrappers, plastic bags, and other pieces of litter - filling 15 bags and weighing about 250 lbs. And most of it was plastic - we really need to shift away from our disposable, single use culture.   Please visit our website for an excellent write-up on the event by Gary Ball. 

Water and Sewer Lines at Indian River Park

We've got a mostly positive update when we met with City officials in mid-September about the water and sewer lines to be run through Indian River Park for the new condo development. The good news is that all parties have agreed to move the proposed water and sewer lines to the south edge of the Dominion power line corridor. The easement was originally planned to be 40' wide and run through the forest on the north side of the power lines. Now it will now only be 16' wide and about half of this is land already keep cleared for the power lines. So we're still going to lose some trees along the edge, but only about 1/5th of what we would have originally been cut; and very likely no really old trees are in the path.  

We also asked that the area be replanted with a conservation native wildflower mix after construction. And we're waiting to see the final site plan. The timing for the work is not yet known, but it construction will likely take several weeks, perhaps more than a month, once it starts. Unfortunately all the north-south trails will effectively be severed during the construction, so stay tuned for updates on all of this.

Neighbors Collect Trash from the Indian River

By Guest Contributor and Member Gary Ball

On a recent bright September Saturday morning, I joined a dedicated group of neighbors in a four-hour effort to reduce the trash littering the banks and water of our beloved Indian River. The volunteers, most of them members of our local neighborhood-advocacy group known as Friends of Indian River, included six canoers, a kayaker, and my friend Glenn and me in Glenn's 21-foot Carolina skiff.This was our second-annual effort to use boats to get at debris on the shoreline and in the water, so we knew we faced a daunting task.

A branch of the majestic Elizabeth River, Indian River winds through several old neighborhoods in Chesapeake. If you've ever driven down Indian River Road between Military Highway and Campostella Road, you've passed over it.

Old-timers say the river once had a white sandy bottom and clear water, but its bottom is now covered in many places with deep mud, and the water is dark and murky. Apparently, the mud and murk result from decades of runoff from small farms, suburban yards, and construction sites, seasoned by goose and pet droppings, and, of course, litter.

Nevertheless, when the sun sets over its dappled surface on an autumn evening or a full moon paints a silver lane across it, all of us who live near the river count ourselves lucky. Egrets, blue herons, eagles, and ospreys love the river, too, and otters have made an occasional appearance recently.

But the Indian River needs our help. That's why we were out on this sultry Saturday morning, trying to reduce its burden of trash.

As some of our canoeists paddled upriver toward Plymouth Park, a place we had de-littered several times in the past, Glenn nosed the skiff gently into the edge of a four-acre marsh that dominates the center of the river about a quarter mile south of the Indian River Bridge. Using metal grabbers, a crab net, and our gloved hands, he and I began quickly filling two big trash cans he had brought aboard.

Plastic bottles, white Tiparillo tips, plastic bags that stuck to the bottom suffocating all life under them, and maybe worst of all, Styrofoam—plates, cups, carry-out containers, and limitless numbes of hard-to-grab fragments--predominated in this hiearchy of debris.We also found a large exercise ball, pens, including a green Sharpie (that still worked!), numerous liquor bottles, a wheel barrow tire, and, oddly, an EZ Pass.

I thought littering went out of fashion in the Sixties, but apparently a lot of folks, through ignorance or arrogance, still feel fine tossing their garbage anywhere but in a trash can. Maybe they don't realize that litter on the street, especially plastic and Styrofoam, eventually washes into the river during rainstorms. We were witnessing this reality in a very personal way as the marsh and shoreline yielded up hundreds of pounds of wet, muddy garbage.

Glenn and I worked over only about forty yards of the marsh shore but filled both our large trash cans. The area we covered represented only about fiften percent of the marsh, I estimated, so we left much untouched, even with help form other volunteers. Some trash was out of our reach, and we considered  wading into the marsh, but when Glenn tested the bottom with his boat hook and it sank six feet deep in the mud, we decided we should stay in the boat.

After about three and half hours, we rendezvoused  with the other waterborne trash collectors beside the Indian River Bridge. Glenn and I took their trash bags into our boat and everybody headed home for much-needed showers and lunch. The total haul filled four city-issued  trash cans.

Did our morning's work really make a difference? Hard to say, but at least we kept hundreds of pieces of plastic from washing into the bay and on into the ocean. We've also made the river a little more hospitable to the creatures who have to live in it. And maybe next year we'll have more help and be able to do more. Of course, the biggest help would be for everybody to keep trash off the streets and out of the water. It doesn't belong in our beloved, but struggling, Indian River.

Friday, August 30, 2019

September Newsletter and Events

We hope everyone had a great summer.  But cooler weather is approaching and the Friends are ready to get back into full swing.

In this month's issue, we have:
- Indian River Cleanup by Canoe/Kayak, Saturday, September 14
- Monthly Meeting - Hooked on Butterflies and Moths, Thursday, September 19
- Other News
   - Update on Water and Sewer Lines at Indian River Park
   - Sanitary Sewer Pump Station Upgrade on Providence Road
   - Norfolk Highland Civic League meeting, September 5
   - Rokeby Garden Club meeting, September 18
   - And more

Indian River Cleanup by Canoe/Kayak
Date: Saturday, September 14, 9 am to Noon
Location: Please RSVP to for details

This is a "Bring Your Own Boat" event.  If you plan to participate, it is important to let us know so that we can plan appropriately and provide additional information on logistics and where we will gather.  

If you have a boat but nowhere to put in along the river, contact us to make arrangements on where to put in.  If you'd like to participate but have no boat, contact us as we may have a limited number of extra spots on other boats.

Please see safety information at and

Rain Date is September 28 

Monthly Meeting - Hooked on Butterflies and Moths
Date: Thursday, September 19, 7 pm
Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive, Chesapeake, VA

Join us for a wonderful program "Hooked on Butterflies and Moths" to learn about the behavior and traits of these winged marvels - and their caterpillars.  Presented by Karen and Steve McCurdy, co-Presidents of the Butterfly Society of Virginia.

There will be light refreshments and door prizes after the meeting.

Water and Sewer Lines at Indian River Park

At this point, the land for the new Fieldstone Condos next to Indian River Park has been fully cleared.  There has been some progress regarding the location of the water and sewer lines for the complex.  The original proposal was to cut a 40' wide easement through the forested area of the park, on the north side of the Dominion Power Lines.  As a result of our urging, the developer and the city have mapped out an alternative, reduced, 16' wide easement on on the south side of the power lines, as close to the power lines as allowed by Dominion Energy.  Although the location of the tree line varies, about half of this easement is on already cleared land, i.e. outside of the existing tree line.  This should reduce the tree loss significantly.  It looks like few, if any, large old trees would need to be cut down along this route.  The Friends have a meeting with the City Manager and staff in September to discuss and we will report the outcome.

Sanitary Sewer Pump Station Upgrade on Providence Road

In a separate project in 2020, the City will also be replacing and upgraded the sanitary sewer pump station located along Providence Road between Rokeby Avenue and Paramont Ave. This new pump station will serve about 2000 homes in the area.  The upgraded is much needed to improve safety and reliability of the system.  But construction will disturb about 7000 sq. ft. in Indian River Park and the Friends submitted various comments related to the landscaping and post-construction remediation.  The project will be going to the Chesapeake Bay Preservation Area Board for review in the coming months.  Read more about our comments at

Rokeby Garden Club, starting on September 18, will be holding monthly meetings at the Rokeby Center on the 3rd Wednesdays of the month from 1 pm to 3 pm. This is for residents "55 and better" who love plants and gardening.  For their September meeting on the 18th, the group will be learning how to make herbal ice cream and sorbet. No registration is required. The group will also help maintain the gardens around the Rokeby Center. For more information call or visit the Rokeby Center at 757-822-6259.

Elizabeth River Project has multiple programs to help local homeowners make their yards both more beautiful and better for the local environment.  These includes lawn makeovers, rain gardens, stream side buffers, living shorelines, and rain barrels.  If you become a River Star Home by pledging to be a good steward of the environment, there may even be funding assistance available.  Learn more at

Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council has two contests running right now.  First is the Keep Chesapeake Beautiful Calendar Photo Contest.  They are  looking for photographs that highlight the beauty and splendor of parks around the City of Chesapeake; entry deadline is this Friday, September 6.   And they are also looking for nominations for their Business Beautification Award which  recognizes a business in Chesapeake that takes pride in the visual impression it leaves on the surrounding neighborhood and shows an awareness of the environment; nominations due by September 30.  Entries for both can be made at

Norfolk Highlands Civic League is holding their next meeting on Thursday, September 5, 7 pm at the Indian River Baptist Church.

We posted a map of planned street re-paving in our area between now and June 2020 at

Chesapeake Recycles Day is on Saturday, September 7, 9 am to noon, at Sam's Club Western Branch.  Learn more at

Now is a great time to become a member or renew your membership, or just make a donation online at