Saturday, July 6, 2024

Summer Newsletter and Events

  • Upcoming Events
    • Dates for the September 
  • Planting starting at Blue Heron Landing Park
    News
    • Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed
    • June Recap
    • Tree Pledge
Upcoming Events

Save these dates for September
  • Saturday, 9/14, 8:30 am-10:30 am - Second Saturday Hike 
  • Thursday, 9/19, 7 pm - Monthly Meeting - Chesapeake Healthy Landscapes Program
  • Saturday, 9/21 - International Coastal Cleanup


News

Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed

Thank you to the volunteers who have been weeding, mulching, and maintaining the gardens at the Indian River Road Oaklette Bridge and at Indian River Park, and at planters along Indian River Road.   We are looking for more volunteers to help.

At the Indian River Park native plant garden this year, we are going to try a "Divide and Conquer" approach. We have a few people that have already expressed interest in helping with the garden and the plan is to assign a small section to each of the volunteers that signs up. If you also want to help, our Native Plant Garden Captain, Amy Weber, will meet with you to point out your section and discuss the native plant selections and which plants that we consider to be weeds. You will visit the garden on your own time, every week or two, to keep your area in good shape. She will reach out to everyone periodically to see if there are any special concerns. She will be available to help as needed if you are unavailable on vacations or other times away!  Please feel free to contact her directly at a.webercmg@gmail.com to sign up to help or if you have any questions! 


At the Bridge Garden, we generally meet on Tuesday mornings to weed and do other tasks. If you are interested in helping out there, e-mail us at info@friendsofindianriver.org for more information.

June Recap

On our Adopt-A-Road cleanup, we collected litter around and under the bridge and up along Indian River Road.  We wrapped up early because of the high heat that morning, but we still collected nearly 100 lbs. of litter and debris.   Of course, I keep hoping for the day we have a cleanup and I have to report that we found no litter. 


We were also excited to see progress on the Indian River Shopping Center renovations.  They've even added some landscaping in front of the new storefronts!
And they are starting to do the planting of wetlands grasses at Blue Heron Landing Park!  See photo at top of newsletter.

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.











Sunday, June 2, 2024

June Newsletter and Events

Summer is almost here!  Join us this Saturday, June 8th, for an evening hike at Indian River Park.  And on the Summer Solstice, Thursday, June 20th, we are holding our annual Potluck Picnic in the pavilion behind Oaklette UMC.  We hope you will join us for these fun social events!

  • Upcoming Events
    • 6/8/2024 - Saturday - Evening Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park
    • 6/20/2024 - Thursday - Summer Evening Potluck Picnic
    • 6/22/2024 - Saturday - Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road 
  • News
    • Comprehensive Plan Open Houses
    • Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed
    • Tree and River Star Outreach
    • Protect Your Trees from Storm Damage
    • May and Clean the Bay Day Recap
Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 8: Evening Second Saturday Hike @ Indian River Park
  • Time: 6 pm - 8 pm
  • Location: Indian River Park trailhead at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (2003 Rokeby Ave.)
  • 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/wVUje9X3xE1jzLjg8 (suggested but not required)
Thursday, June 20: Summer Solstice Potluck Picnic
  • Time 6 pm - 8 pm
  • Picnic do Bruno | Michell Zappa | Flickr
    Location: Picnic Pavilion behind Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive; park in the side lot along St. Lawrence Dr. 
  • Rather than our usual monthly meeting, in June we'll have a potluck picnic out behind the church.  Bring a dish to share and join us for some camaraderie as we roll into summer.  The Friends will set out tables and chairs, provide a main protein dish (likely chicken).  We suggest bringing a comfy lawn chair. In the event of rain, we will move the event inside the church's fellowship hall. 
  • To help coordinate who is bringing what, we set up a Sign Up Genius form at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C094DADA92FA2FA7-49923076-friends

Saturday, June 22 - Adopt-A-Road Cleanup along Indian River Road 
  • Time: 9 AM to 11:30 AM
  • Location: Meet at Lilac Avenue and Indian River Road. Park along Lilac Avenue by the Norfolk Highlands Primary School.
  • 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/WEEsgH6JVp9rwBeHA (suggested but not required)


News

Comprehensive Plan Open Houses

The Planning Department is continuing its Comp Planning efforts.  They finished focus group stakeholder meetings and a round of geographic area stakeholder meetings over the last couple of months.  Now another round of public Community Open Houses have been scheduled.  The closest one to Indian River will be on June 10 at the Conference Center.

June 4 from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m., Great Bridge Town Meeting (Information Table) @ Great Bridge Intermediate School
June 10 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Chesapeake Conference Center
June 13 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Fire Station #7, 3329 South Battlefield Blvd.
June 17 from 5:00 - 6:30 p.m., Chesapeake Lifestyle Center


The Trails and Connectivity Plan is planning its final open house for Monday, June 3, from 5:30 pm to 7 pm at the Portlock Galleries, 3815 Bainbridge Blvd. Learn more at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/tconn

The Greenbrier Area Plan held its final open house on May 22.   You can see some of the charts from the meeting at https://www.cityofchesapeake.net/3100/Greenbrier-Area-Plan


Many Hands Make Light Work! - More Volunteers Needed

Thank you to the volunteers who have been weeding, mulching, and maintaining the gardens at the Indian River Road Oaklette Bridge and at Indian River Park, and at planters along Indian River Road.   We are looking for more volunteers to help.

At the Indian River Park native plant garden this year, we are going to try a "Divide and Conquer" approach. We have a few people that have already expressed interest in helping with the garden and the plan is to assign a small section to each of the volunteers that signs up. If you also want to help, our Native Plant Garden Captain, Amy Weber, will meet with you to point out your section and discuss the native plant selections and which plants that we consider to be weeds. You will visit the garden on your own time, every week or two, to keep your area in good shape. She will reach out to everyone periodically to see if there are any special concerns. She will be available to help as needed if you are unavailable on vacations or other times away!  Please feel free to contact her directly at a.webercmg@gmail.com to sign up to help or if you have any questions! 

At the Bridge Garden, we generally meet on Tuesday mornings to weed and do other tasks. If you are interested in helping out there, e-mail us at info@friendsofindianriver.org for more information.

Tree and River Star Outreach

We are starting a new sub-committee to identify opportunities to increase tree canopy in Indian River area by encouraging preservation of existing trees and encouraging new plantings on both residential, commercial, and municipal properties.   Along with this, we'll encourage residents and commercial property owners to become River Star Homes and River Star Businesses with the Elizabeth River Project.  If you are interested in helping with this committee, please let us know at info@friendsofindianriver.org

Protect Your Trees from Storm Damage

The hurricane forecast is in the news this weekend.  Trees are an enormous investment for your home and for the health of the environment.  Trees provide critical ecosystem services by protecting from damaging winds, reducing flooding, holding soil in place, and reducing summer air conditioning costs by up to 35%. And there is safety in numbers, neighborhoods with more tree canopy cover generally have less tree damage from storms.  You can take steps to ensure that your trees are healthy and properly maintained so you can enjoy their benefits for decades to come.  Learn how to keep your trees storm resilient at at https://dof.virginia.gov/urban-community-forestry/storm-planning-and-recovery/storm-preparation-and-tree-resiliency/

Also, take our Tree Pledge to protect trees on your property and in the community.    
Click here to help protect trees: https://forms.gle/xNCG9XMuBWPExmWt6


May and Clean the Bay Day Recap

Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) came to our May meeting and gave us an in-depth view of the high-capacity transit options for Chesapeake like establishing "bus rapid transit" routes.  Attendees were able to provide detailed feedback to the HRT team.   Learn more about the study at https://www.connectingchesapeake.com/

We congratulated Mai Saldivar, winner of the Friends of Indian River 2024 Indian River High School Education Scholarship.  The scholarship recognizes a senior who excels in leadership, citizenship, extracurricular activities and academics.  Mai excels in all these areas and has done outstanding volunteer work including Clean Up projects thru the Elizabeth River Project and other groups.    She is looking forward to majoring in biology and environmental sciences. Thank you for your efforts and best wishes for college and beyond! Learn more about the scholarship at http://www.friendsofindianriver.org/p/friends-of-indian-river-scholarship.html

We had a fantastic turn out for Clean the Bay Day on Saturday, June 1st at Indian River Park.  47 volunteers collected over 400 lbs. of litter and debris from the wetlands and roadsides in and around the park.  Very little of this trash comes from park users.   It is mostly trash washed in from the surrounding commercial and residential streets.  We found a lot of beverage containers, food-to-go packaging, and plastic bags.   A big thank you to the groups that came out to help today at the park including Navy Logistics Support, Coalition of Sailors, and of course our dedicated Friends of Indian River volunteers.  See more photos on our Friends of Indian River | Facebook Page 

We wish to thank the Carl W. Mangum Jr. and Marguerite S. Mangum Fund #3 of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation for making a generous grant to the Friends of Indian River.  This is very appreciated and helps our organization fulfill its mission to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods of Chesapeake  

Meanwhile, at the future Blue Heron Landing Park, there was noticeable progress. They started to regrade the site for what will ultimately be a restored living shoreline.



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.










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.