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 fa├žade 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.