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.