- 50+ volunteers contributing over 1100 hours on projects including cleanups, gardening, outreach, and coordinating with partner organizations.
- Removing more than 1800 lbs. of trash, litter, and debris from area streets, parks, and waterways during Clean the Bay Day, International Coastal Cleanup, Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Park events.
- Celebrating the takeover by the City of the old Aqua Virginia Water System in the Norfolk Highlands area, clearing one obstacle to revitalizing Indian River Shopping Center
- Successfully advocating for the City to include funding for the new Heron Landing Park on the Indian River in the 5-Year Capital Budget. Engineering design work is expected to start in 2020.
- Organizing BioBlitz 2019 at Indian River Park, where 65 volunteers and guests spent the day exploring Indian River Park and learning about the local flora and fauna.
- Seeing the installation of new playground equipment at Plymouth Park.
- Dealing with the impacts of the new Fieldstone Condo development adjacent to Indian River Park, including working to re-align the project's water and sewer lines to minimize impacts to the park's forest.
- Starting a mini-grant program in partnership with the Elizabeth River Project to encourage homeowners to install living shorelines and other conservation landscaping practices.
- Working with the City Planning Department and our community to develop the Indian River Area Small Area Plan. This plan will outline a long-term vision and immediate action plans for sustaining and improving the Indian River area. One key focus area for us is how to revitalize the Indian River Shopping Center.
- Providing input on the City's overall Comprehensive Plan which is due in the coming year for its twice a decade revision.
- Working with the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department and other stakeholders to develop a trail management plan for Indian River Park
- And, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, working to develop a sustainability mindset within our community, our city, and the Tidewater region. Toward this end, we'll be participating in the City's first ever Chesapeake Conservation Conference in March and planning Earth Day activities in April - and promoting healthy environmental practices throughout the year.
The Friends of Indian River are an all volunteer, local 501(c)(3) non-profit. You can support our efforts by becoming a member, renewing your membership, or just making a contribution online at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html
In September, we held our 2nd Annual River Cleanup as part of International Coastal Cleanup. Over 3 hours, 10 volunteers in canoes, kayaks, and a skiff, collected over 1000 bottles, cans, food wrappers, plastic bags, and other pieces of litter - filling 15 bags and weighing about 250 lbs.
We've continued to work with the Elizabeth River Project's (ERP) Eastern Branch Steering Committee regarding on-going efforts to improve local water quality. The ERP worked on at least two more Living Shoreline project along the Indian River this year, with help from Friends of Indian River volunteers.
This year, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the ERP for us to create a mini-grant program in partnership with the ERP to encourage homeowners to install living shorelines and other conservation landscaping practices. This program pledged up to $250 per project to offset the homeowner portion of the project cost. Learn more at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/programs.html
We successfully advocated for the City to include capital funding for the new Heron Landing Park on the Indian River in the 5-Year Capital Budget. Engineering design work is expected to start in 2020.
Throughout the year at Indian River Park, volunteers maintained the native plant garden at the trailhead entrance area and the nature trail. Another ongoing focus was combating invasive species, particularly English Ivy and Japanese Stilt Grass, with both group and individual volunteer efforts. Contact us to learn more about joining our Native Plant Gardening and RIP (Remove Invasive Plant) teams. We also worked to get the PR&T to get two new bridges installed at the south end of the park to reconnect trails disrupted by the condo construction.
Looking longer term, we asked the PR&T to work with us and other stakeholders to develop an overall trail management plan for the Indian River Park. Since the City took ownership of the parkland in 2001, it has largely taken a hands off approach. With growing popularity and use of the park, and the increased usage expected with the new condo development, this risk having a continued degradation of the park. We're hoping that a trail advisory group can be established to collect input from park users and better manage the park.
Meanwhile, in a major upgrade, a brand new playground was installed at Plymouth Park in spring. We also completed one group cleanup at Plymouth Park. Individual volunteers, especially Carol Warren, continued many on-going maintenance tasks at the park throughout the year, including tending to the flower garden at the park sign. Next year we expect to plant more trees at the park.
Volunteers continued upkeep on the flower gardens and trees in our Adopt-A-Spot program on the approaches to the Indian River Oaklette Bridge. Most of this effort involves individual volunteers who have "adopted" one of the gardens and then routinely goes out to tend to and weed the gardens, or look after the trees. Often unnoticed, diligent work here keeps the bridge area looking attractive.
Main Street Revitalization
We continued conversations and meetings with the City's Economic Development staff about Indian River Shopping Center. We also began marketing the idea of Indian River Road being "Main Street Indian River" to give us a stronger sense of identity and highlight the strengths of our community, including its central location on the Southside, its amenities, and it being both a waterfront community and on relatively high ground - some unique in the region. We continued to promote our program of placing flower planters at key locations along the corridor. And the Friends sponsored a year-end Holiday Lights and Decoration Contest for the business along our "Main Street" to both start building a sense of community and to make the street sparkle for the holidays.
We set up information tables at this year's RiverFest in Kempsville, at our local National Night Out event in Norfolk Highlands.
- Justin Shafer, Norfolk Environmental Engineer discussed Green Infrastructure
- Barbara Brumbaugh, Chesapeake Environmental Program Manager, presented on Chesapeake's Water Quality Improvement Plans
- Ross Weaver, Wetlands Watch, briefed us on their Resilience Research and Design Collaborative
- Ellen Comstock, United Methodist Church, presented on Earthkeepers and the faith-based community
- Brent James, Lynnhaven River Now, spoke on Notable Trees
- Karen and Steve McCurdy, Butterfly Society, presented “Hooked on Butterflies and Moths”
- Dana Lusher, Nature's Nanny Wildlife Rehabilitation, brought live
owls for a presentation on "Living Harmoniously with Owls"
- Stephen Best, Chesapeake City Council member, and Christopher Price, the new City Manager
Awards and Recognitions
Carol Warren is a dedicated advocate for Plymouth "Community" Park and also has completed significant hands on work to improving the park. To recognize this effort, the Friends of Indian River board took steps to have a plaque installed on one of the park's benches in her honor.
Active Supporting Members and Volunteers 2019
Joe Alvarez V
Jill Arnone M
LaVerne Avant M
Gary Ball MV
Susan Ball M
Glen Batt MV
Hunter Blalock V
Diane Burke MV*
Joe Burke M
Margie Carraway M
Shannon Cook V
Vickie Easley MV
Sonny Ertsgaard V
Lynn Gilbert MV*
Grace Gonzalez V
Sarah Kelly Gonzalez V
Dylan Green V
Eric Green V
Bill and Joan Gregory M
Gilbert Griffin MV
David and Lynn Greenfield M
Helene Haluska MV*Jim Haluska MV
Jim and Corinne Harrison VJim Hartle MV*
Jacob Helmka M
Mike Hoffman V
Sara Howard V
Randy Jackson V
Walter Jacques V
Elaine Jimenez V
Barbara Johnson V
Sharon Komenda MV*
Mella Leibrand M
Barbara McCane MV*
Keith and Debbie Moore M
Larry Nero V
Melanie Potter MV
Jim Raper M
Jennifer Raymond M
Mary Reno M
Randy Riffle V
Ron Riffle V
June Gale Robbins M
Rogard Ross MV*
Elaine Simpson V
Carol Warren MV*
Amy Weber MV*
Alex Whitney V
Chris Whitney MV*
Jayne Whitney MV*
Shaun Wynn-Bouder V
Darol Wood V
Tony Wood V
Alana and George YacusM
Another 11 Other Volunteers for
Clean the Bay Day in June