Saturday, March 2, 2024

March Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • 3/9/2024 - Saturday - Second Saturday Hike at Indian River Park
    • 3/21/2024 - Thursday - Bi-Monthly Meeting: Chesapeake Comprehensive Planning 
    • 3/23/2024 - Saturday - Great American Cleanup along Indian River Road
  • News
    • Tree Pledge
    • Tree Bills 
    • January Recap
    • Spring Membership Drive

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 9: 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/8mBXSpK1QcjWvETF7 (suggested but not required)
Thursday, March21: Bi-Monthly Meeting: Chesapeake Comprehensive Planning
  • Time: 7 pm to 8:30 pm 
  • Location: Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive
  • Our guest speaker will be Kevin Finn with the Chesapeake Planning Department.  He will give us an update on the Comprehensive Planning efforts currently underway in the City including updates to the core "Comp Plan", the Greenbrier Area Planning Study, and the Trails and Connectivity Plan.  This is an opportunity to provide feedback to the City on their planning efforts. 
  • We will also hold a brief Business Meeting to review and approve our 2024 budget.  
  • All are welcome.  There will be light refreshments.
Saturday, March 23: Great American Cleanup along Indian River Road
  • Time: 9 AM to 11:30 am  
  • Meet at side parking lot at Post Office, 3810 Indian River Road
  • We need your help for our quarterly cleanup.   Join us for a few hours to clean up the mile of Indian River Road from the city limits at Wingfield Avenue all the way to MacDonald Road. We are also asking all business owners along Indian River Road - and everywhere really - to make sure they sweep up in front of their storefronts as part of the effort.   And if you can't make it out for our organized cleanup please take 15 minutes and cleanup the street and ditches in front of your home; pass the word to your neighbors!
  • For our main cleanup on Indian River Road, the city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.
  • Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/vhudKYahWNLMwtCb8 (suggested but not required)


Tree Pledge

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

There are an almost endless list of benefits of having trees in our community that include reducing flooding, mitigating urban heat during the summer, counteracting air and water pollution, improving human health factors, and making our community a more beautiful place to live.   Learn more at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/trees.html

Benefit of Trees graphic from the Nature Conservancy

Tree Bills

March Tree of the Month -
Southern Magnolia at Rokeby Center
Some good news on trees - Several tree bills have been passed by the General Assembly in Richmond including HB529 and HB1100.  These two bills will enable localities to enact stronger tree protection ordinances and are now heading for the Governor's desk.  Stay tuned for any Action Alerts asking folks to contact the Governor to urge him to sign these bills. Learn more about these bills at http://www.greeningchesapeake.com/2024/02/support-tree-bills-in-general-assembly.html

February Recap

We had a blustery morning for our birding hike around the lake at the high school during the Great Backyard Bird Count.  We didn't see as much bird action as last year but still saw a dozen different species. There were a lot of Canada Geese on the lake and we also saw Ring-billed Gulls, Pied-billed Grebes, American Crows, Mallards, Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Bluebird, Cardinal, and glimpses of a Blue Heron and a Bald Eagle.  

A big thank you to the 16 volunteers who came out for our invasive species management workshop at Indian River Park in February.  The volunteers learned about the different invasives plants in the park and then worked to free dozens of trees from the encroaching English Ivy and eliminate fresh outbreaks! 

Spring Membership Drive

It's time for our annual spring membership drive.  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.  Our fiscal year ends March 31 and our fundraising goal is $1600; we are currently at $1080.  Help us reach our goal.  You can become a member, renew your membership, or just make a contribution online at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/membership.html

Sunday, February 4, 2024

February Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • 2/10/2024 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park - Invasives
    • 2/17/2024 - Saturday - Great Backyard Bird Count - Guided Hike
  • News
    • January Roundup
    • Benefit of Trees
    • *New* Action Alert: Support Tree Bills in General Assembly

Upcoming Events

Saturday, Feb 10: Adopt-A-Park @ Indian River Park - Invasive Species Workshop
  • Time: 9:00 am to Noon
  • 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.
  • Learn to identify various invasive plant species that threaten Indian River Park and natural areas across the Tidewater region.  Those found in the park include English Ivy, Chinese Privet, Multifloral Rose, Linden Viburnum, and others.  
  • Then we'll have a work effort to clear some outbreaks of the English Ivy. The more volunteers that come out the more that we can accomplish! 
  • Please wear closed-toe shoes, long pants, a hat and bring work gloves. We'll be working both to remove Ivy on the ground and on trees.  Bring pruning clippers, loppers, screwdrivers (which are amazingly useful in prying ivy off tree trunks) and/or pruning saws if you have them.  We will have water and snacks but 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/RH8sPF1G8zCR4Ziq9
Saturday, Feb 17: Great Backyard Bird Count - Guided Hike
  • Time:  8:30 am to 10:30 am.   
  • Location: Meet at the Indian River Community Center, 2250 Old Greenbrier Rd
  • It's the weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count, a worldwide effort to identify the distribution of birds; as part of this we'll be leading a guided bird walk around the lake between the Indian River Community/Rec Center and the High School.
  • Last year we had a real treat with a flock of 18 Ring-necked Ducks on the lake, a first for us at this location, Northern Shoveler ducks, Pied-billed Grebes, Double-Crested Cormorants, Mallards, and lots of Canada Geese.  We also saw Bald Eagles, Ospreys, Great Blue Herons, Hooded Merganser, 3 kinds of woodpeckers, various sparrows, an Eastern Towhee, and more.
  • We'll have some binoculars and a spotting scope, but do bring your own if you have some!
  • Please pre-register at https://forms.gle/n55atYuswhUXUp417 (suggested but not required)



January Roundup

On Thursday, Jan 18 the Friends of Indian River held our Annual Meeting and Volunteer Appreciation Celebration.   We reelected our board and officers and then had an excellent discussion about goals for 2024.  A sample of the ideas raised included continuing to focus on implementation of the Indian River Small Area Plan, working more with the Elizabeth River Project on their River Star program, protecting existing trees and planting more trees, and more community outreach.   Our board will be reviewing the suggestion at its February meeting.  


The Friends of Indian River were recognized for our Sustained Distinguished Performance at the Model Level at the Elizabeth River Project River Star Businesses Recognition Luncheon in January.   We were called out in particular for our effort to plant the native trees and shrubs along Indian River Road by the bridge.   Chesapeake Parks, Recreation and Tourism, who were inducted in the River Star Hall of Fame at the luncheon, also thanked us for our partnership efforts with their department.  The Blue Heron Landing Park under construction were also highlighted during the ceremonies!  
At the end of the month, we had a great Adopt-A-Park event at Indian River Park.  11 energetic volunteers got the garden mulched in about an hour - and then had the energy to pull around 250 lbs of trash out of the wetlands.  We thank the volunteers for all the great work! 


Benefits of Trees

While trees alone won't solve all the woes of a modern city, they go a long way to making a City a more livable place.   The benefits of trees includes:
  • Reduced Flooding
  • Reduced Urban Heat Islands 
  • Enhanced Beauty of a Place
  • Improved Air Quality
  • Improved Water Quality
  • Improved Soil Health
  • Reduced Noise Pollution
  • Improved Walkability and Sense of Community
  • Increased Economic Activity in business districts with tree lined streetscapes 
  • Improved Human Health including reduced incidence of obesity and asthma
  • Reduced Stress and Anxiety and overall improved Mental Health
  • Reduced symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
  • Traffic Calming and fewer Accidents
  • Lower Cooling and Heating Costs
  • Increased Property Values
  • Reduced Violence and Crime
  • Improved Academic Performance of students
  • Wildlife and Biodiversity benefits
  • Storage of Carbon
Action Alert: Support Tree Bills in General Assembly

There are several bills in the General Assembly that would give the City of Chesapeake the option to do more to protect trees and restore tree canopy during development. Current state law limits how much Chesapeake can require of developers during construction. HB1100 would enable all counties, cities, and towns in Virginia to adopt tree conservation ordinances to conserve healthy mature trees during construction projects. HB 529 would increase how much canopy must be replaced when trees are cut down during development. Both these bills will be heard by the full House this week. Please reach out to your Delegates today to ask them to support these bills. Here is a quick action link to send them a message. https://p2a.co/m3lRvxK

Everyone agrees on the many benefits of trees for flood protection, summer heat mitigation, improving the environment, enabling healthier living, and improving the beauty of a place. But the Chesapeake Bay Program Forestry Workgroup, the US Forest Service, and the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay recently released a Tree Cover Status Report that finds that the City of Chesapeake had a net loss of 332 acres of trees between 2014 and 2018, even factoring in tree planting efforts – about 80 acres per year lost. Just in 2023, the Chesapeake City Council approved 20 development projects that will result in cutting down over 70 acres of mature trees, with the ultimate replanting of about 20 acres, for a net loss of 50 acres to zoning changes. And that doesn’t count trees lost to by-right development, road construction, other infrastructure projects, or homeowners cutting down trees. And this goes on year after year, with a cumulative snowball effect. HB 529 and HB 1100 will give the City of Chesapeake the option to protect more trees and/or require more trees to be planted. Ask your Delegate to support these bills today!