Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cleaning up in Indian River Park

I hooked up with the I.P. Ipswich Posse for a day of trail maintenance and general cleanup in Indian River Park on Sunday.   The I.P. Ipswich Posse is a local extension of the Eastern Virginia Mountainbike Association.  This cool crew of avid mountain bikers, their families, and other park enthusiasts from the neighborhood has adopted the park and are actively working to take care of this local gem.

Twenty-two adults, along with several kids and a few dogs came out early Sunday for the cleanup event.   Splitting up into several teams, armed with rakes, clippers, shovels, and paintbrushes they fanned out across the park to collect trash and debris and fix up several  bridges .   One central focus was to clear brush and repaint the bridge over the park’s main stream.    The waterway narrows here to a channel  only a couple of feet wide, but it’s actually the main branch of the upland Indian River, the namesake for the park and the neighborhood.    As the stream meanders through the park, the surrounding natural area acts as to slow and filter the runoff from the surrounding neighborhood.   But today’s mission was to make sure this important crossing over the stream in the park stays in good repair.

While a party stayed to work on the bridge, others split off in teams of two or three, some with wheel barrows, to walk the park's miles of trails in search of trash.    A few areas seemed to be magnets for discarded water and beverage bottles but some of the more littered areas were right along the stream banks with debris washed in from the neighborhood.   The volunteers picked up a few dozen bags of trash and several large items including a car tire, a shopping cart, large plywood board, and an ungainly shipping pallet.   Although not on the main agenda, I also used my clippers to tackle some of the English ivy invading the park.   While still limited to a few hot spots, invasives like English ivy and bamboo are another risk to the park.  

After long hours of work, the group gathered for a picnic of burgers and hot dogs to thank the volunteers for their efforts and socialize.   The I.P Ipswich Posse is  dedicated to keeping the area in good condition both for bicycle enthusiast and for the entire community.   By sprucing up the park, it becomes more welcoming and becoming more popular for taking an afternoon walk or run.   The park is a beautiful natural space full of birds and other wildlife.   A few weeks ago I spotted a pileated woodpecker – our largest woodpecker – in the park.   One of the other participants told me she has seen foxes in the park.

Indian River Park has an extensive network of bike trails popular with area mountain bikers.  Liz S., one of the coordinators for the day’s event told me that this is the only park with this kind of trail network on the Southside, which makes it very special to the group.    After years of minimal attention from the City of Chesapeake, EVMA is now  actively working with the City to improve the trails and maintenance of the park.    The group can be found on Facebook and holds these cleanup events quarterly.

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