Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Year End Report

As we near the end of another great year, I wish to thank all the volunteers and supporters who helped to make the Indian River neighborhood a better place this year.   Your support is essential to achieving the Friends of Indian River goals to improve the quality of life for all the residents of the Indian River neighborhoods.   We ask that you continue to keep up this good work by participating in our volunteer efforts, joining us for our monthly guest presentations, becoming a supporting member, and spreading the word.

In 2013 our accomplishments included
- 5 cleanups collecting 81+ bags along Indian River Road, along the riverfront,  and in Indian River Park.   These cleanups were under the auspicious of the Adopt-A-Road program, the Great American Cleanup, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.
- completing installation and continuing maintenance of gardens at the 4 corners of the Indian River Bridge
- 2 Invasive plant removal days in Indian River Park cutting back aggressive English Ivy attempting to spread across the landscape
- planning, scouting, and building a new nature trail in Indian River Park, working with support from City of Chesapeake's Department of Parks and Recreation, the Urban Forest Trail Blazers, the Chesapeake Master Gardeners, the Virginia Cooperative Extension – Hampton Roads Master Gardeners, the Chesapeake Arboretum and the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association

- recognized 5 business in the community of Streetscape Beautification Certificates
- volunteers contributed more than 450 hours of time and effort to make our neighborhood better.
You can find photos from our past year on our Facebook page at (you don't need a Facebook account to see the photos).

For 2014 we plan to
- continue our rotation of cleanups, gardening, and trail maintenance efforts

along Indian River Road, the river front, and in Indian River Park
- work with Public Works to plant more trees along the approach to Indian River Bridge as part of a grant awarded to the City
- work with the Parks Department to make major improvements to the entrance area of Indian River Park and in conjunction with that we are planning to work with the Master Gardeners and others to install a native plant/rain garden at the entrance
- organize a bioblitz to survey the flora and fauna of the park.

Also in the coming year, the Elizabeth River Project (ERP) - and its River Star Home Program - is planning a significant expansion of its efforts along the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth including the Indian River.   The Friends of Indian River have already started discussions with the ERP and intend to be a key stakeholder in those efforts as they develop.

Our next meeting is on Thursday, January 9th, 7 pm at the Oaklette United Methodist Church.   This is our official annual meeting and we'll hold elections and have a forum to discuss these plans and get ideas for 2014.  If you have a particular concern or interest,such as projects for schools, scouts, gardening, the shopping center, please come and tell us of your interest.  Everyone is invited to the meeting; supporting members who have paid their membership dues may vote.

On Saturday, January 11, 9:30 am, we're having our first Adopt-A-Road cleanup along Indian River Road.   Please join us and, again, thank you for your support.

To learn more about the Friends of Indian River and how you can support us, please visit our website at

We wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year!

Rogard Ross
President, Friends of Indian River

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Friends of Indian River wish everyone 
a Wonderful Holiday and 
a Happy and Peaceful New Year!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Volunteer Appreciation

At our December Holiday Party, we recognized our many volunteers who performed around 500 hours of volunteer service around our community.   And this undercounts the hours of effort put in by our volunteer board of directors in organizing various activities!

Certificates of Appreciation were handed out for:
10+ hours of service: Diane B., Helene H., Jim H., Barbara M., Amy W., Kenny W., and Chris W.
30+ hours of service: Ed B., Linda B., Sharon K., Carol W., and Jayne W.
and for those with Perfect Meeting Attendance.

Once again, thank you to all our volunteers!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ivy and Party

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

This Saturday, December 7th, please join the Friends of Indian River for a volunteer event to remove Invasive Ivy Indian River Park from 9:00 AM to Noon.   We'll mainly be cutting English Ivy that has grown up trees.   This will prevent the ivy from creating fruit and creating new outbreaks in the park.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves; we recommend long pants and long sleeved shirts. Bring pruning clippers, loppers, screwdrivers (which are amazingly useful in prying ivy off tree trunks) and/or pruning saws if you have them.  We'll have water and a snacks available.   Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.  Meet at the 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.

Next Thurday, December 12th, we are having our Holiday Party at 7 PM in at the Oaklette United Methodist Church, 520 Oaklette Drive.   This will be our end of year celebration to recognize our many accomplishments, recognize our volunteers, and socialize.  Please bring a desert to share and join the festivities.  We'll have a silent auction, so you can finish some Christmas shopping too.   Please also consider bringing a donation of non-perishable food items for the Oaklette United Methodist Church food pantry to the meeting this evening. Even if you have not been to a meeting in a while or if this would be your very first meeting, we encourage you to come out and partake in the merriment.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Adopt-A-Road Cleanup

Thank you to the eleven volunteers who came out this morning to clean up along Indian River Road and under Indian River Bridge.   All in all, the volume of trash was lower than in past cleanups, which is an encouraging trend.   Still we collected 6 big bags of trash from under the bridge and another 9 bags along the roadway from MacDonald to Wingfield.    The team was proud of their accomplishment: all litter we collected is litter that no longer despoils our streets or is washed into our waterways.

By far, the item we collected in the greatest quantity were hundreds and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cigarette butts.   If you know a smoker, please remind them that cigarette butts are made with plastic fibers, are not biodegradable, and should never be tossed out their car window.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Inaugural Hike at Indian River Park

We had a great turnout for our inaugural hike on the new nature trail in Indian River Park.   A big thank you to all the groups who made this possible including City of Chesapeake's Department of Parks and Recreation, the Urban Forest Trail Blazers, the Chesapeake Master Gardeners, the Virginia Cooperative Extension – Hampton Roads Master Gardeners, the Chesapeake Arboretum and the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association, and all the great volunteers of the Friends of Indian River.

For more information about the park and the nature trail, see our new pages about the park under the Resources Tab:
- Park Info
- Native Trees of Indian River Park

On December 7th, we'll be back in the park to work on the removal of invasive English ivy.   Come on out and lend a hand.   For our full listing of upcoming events see our calendar.

Update: Mary Reid Barrow's article on the hike is now online at

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Tree signs installed in Indian River Park

The Friends of Indian River and the Urban Forest Trail Blazers were out in force today to install signage along the new nature trail in Indian River Park.   With beautiful weather and great enthusiasm, the team installed 25 tree identification signs and 6 directional posts along the trail.   The trail is now open for exploration and we've scheduled a guided hike on Saturday, November 9th at 10 am.   We hope you can join us.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Successful Mulching of Indian River Park Nature Trail

The Parks and Recreation Department and our volunteers were out in force on Wednesday and completed mulching the 300 yard central section of the nature trail in Indian River Park.   The Parks Department used "gators" to haul load after load of mulch into the park and our hard working volunteers, and Lennie Luke - Senior Planner from the Parks Department - unloaded and spread the mulch along the trail.   It was a hard six hours of work, but the job was completed.

There will be NO trail work this Saturday, 10/19.   Our next work effort will be on Saturday 10/26 when we install the tree signs.    Come out and join us; rsvp to

See more photos at

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Thank you to volunteers for Nature Trail Work!

We extend a big thank you to the volunteers from the Chesapeake Trailblazers and the Friends of Indian River who came out in the rain today to work on the new nature trail in Indian River Park.   The team completed the planned work to widen the trail.  The next step is on Wednesday when the City will come out to help spread mulch on the center section of the trail.

You may find more photos on Facebook at
(no Facebook account required to view photos).

Friday, October 4, 2013

October Meeting and Events

We've got a busy and hopefully fun filled calendar for the Friends of Indian River over the next couple of months.

On Thursday, October 10th, 7 PM, we'll have our Monthly Meeting at Oaklette United Methodist Church.   Rachel Burns from Buy Fresh, Buy Local will speak to us about their program and the benefits buying looking produced goods and services.   We'll also have an update about our own local Indian River Shopping Center.   As usual we'll have some light refreshments after the meeting.

At the meeting we'll also be taking advance orders for Friends of Indian River T-shirts.   We'll be ordering direct from the manufacturer and the estimated price is $16 for white T-shirts and $23 for colored T-shirts; the exact price will depend on how many we order.

On Saturday, October 12th, at 9 am, we'll start work on the new Nature Trail in Indian River Park.   The trail will mostly follow an existing trail in the park but we'll be doing some widening, re-routing, and removal of invasive plants.   The Trailblazers will provide a pruning demonstration and instructions before we start.   Bring pruning clippers and pruning saws if you have them.   Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  We recommend long pants and long sleeved shirts.  We'll have water and a snacks available.   Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.   Please RSVP to

On Wednesday, October 16th, the Parks Department will have a crew in the park to help spread mulch on part of the nature trail; we need some volunteers to help rake the mulch.  Then depending on what we get done during the week, we may have another work effort on Saturday, October 19th.   If you can help out on either of these days, let us know at   

Also on Saturday, October 19th, the City will have a Recycle Day event at Woodland Heights Baptist Church at 529 Providence Road.   Residents can drop off Electronics, Plastic Bags, Clothing and Household Items, Household Hazardous Waste, and everyday Recyclables. The Friends of Indian River will also be supporting this event and we need volunteers here too.   If interested, please contact

On Saturday, October 26th, we'll be finishing up the work on the Nature Trail in Indian River Park.  We'll be installing signs along the trail.  Please wear closed-toe shoes, a hat and bring work gloves and other items that may be useful.  We recommend long pants and long sleeved shirts.  We'll have water and a snacks available.   Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.  Please RSVP to

In November we'll have a fun inaugural hike at the park on Saturday, November 9th, our regular meeting on Thursday, November 14th with presentation about Plastics, and an Adopt-A-Road Cleanup on Indian River Road on Saturday, November 16th.   

For full details about all this events, please visit our calendar at

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tree Proposal Along Indian River Road

The Friends of Indian River are working with the City to advance a plan to plant trees along the Indian River Road median and along the sidewalks of Indian River Road at Indian River Bridge. This area can be seen as a “gateway” from Norfolk  to Chesapeake.    Our proposal is to plant trees in the median and along the southern sidewalks of the Indian River Bridge between Oleander Avenue, Lilac Avenue and the river to obtain the following goals:
·         Add to the effectiveness of the riparian buffer to the Indian River
·         Increase the city tree canopy
·         Act as a calming effect to traffic which adds to pedestrian safety and pleasure when using walkways
·         Lessen city expense by supporting Adopt-A-Garden maintenance of tree buffer opposed to heavy grass mowing and sidewalk edging requirements by the city
·          Enhanced city stewardship to reduced storm water run-off into the Indian River
·         Add beauty to the area

The Indian River Bridge crosses the main tidal reach of the Indian River and is the main connection between the Oaklette, South Fairview and Plymouth Park neighborhoods with the Norfolk Highlands and Tanglewood neighborhoods.  The sidewalks along the bridge are used by pedestrians to walk, bike, or jog from one neighborhood to the other and to area services such as the post office, churches, laundry mat, eateries, food stores, restaurants.

The open space areas around the bridge can act as an important riparian buffer  along the waterways.   On the southeast side of the bridge, there is a large public/open space between Indian River Road and Oleander Avenue.  This area along the roadway has the potential to provide a useful riparian buffer - a vegetative filter - to the Indian River. 

The area around the Indian River Bridge was adopted by  the Friends of Indian River in 2012 and we've been practicing good stewardship of the four planters at the corners of the Bridge.  Working through the Adopt-A-Garden program we've performed regular volunteer clean-up efforts, conducted much needed pruning and care to existing crepe myrtle trees, and prepared and maintaining garden beds and plantings around the Bridge. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Indian River Cleanup

We had great weather and an energetic, if somewhat small, turnout for our cleanup along Indian River Road today.   Nine volunteers worked their way up and down Indian River Road.  Of those, five worked on the approaches to Indian River Bridge and the shoreline under the bridge as part of the International Coastal Cleanup.   All in all we collected twenty bags of trash - cigarette butts, food containers, beverage cans and bottles, grocery plastic bags, fishing lines, a variety of clothing items, and a bicycle tire.   All trash which is no longer messing up our community or polluting our river.

While its unfortunate to report that we collected twenty bags of trash, it is a significant improvement over our initial cleanups along the road and river last year, when we netted twenty bags and forty bags of trash at two separate cleanups.   Our total today is two-thirds less and we're getting done in half the time.

We extend a big thank you to all our volunteers who came out today.   We also hope more of you receiving this can make it out for our next cleanup on November 16th.   Remember, many hands make light work.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Welcome to our fall season

We hope everyone had a wonderful summer and we welcome everyone back to an exciting new year for the Friends of Indian River.   Our regular meetings continue on the second Thursday of every month at the Oaklette United Methodist Church and we have a full calendar of volunteer events to help improve our neighborhood.   We hope all of you can make it out to at least one of our events.

- Thursday, September 12th, at 7 pm: Monthly Meeting - a representative of the Elizabeth River Project will present on the River Star Homes Program and plans for expanding the ERP's presence along the Eastern Branch and the Indian River.

- Saturday, September 14th, 9 am: Cleanup -  join us for our quarterly cleanup along Indian River Road.  We'll also use this event to help with the International Coastal Cleanup by getting trash out from underneath the bridge.   The city will provide garbage bags and orange safety vests. We'll have water and a few snacks available. 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.  Meet at side parking lot of Indian River Post Office, 3810 Indian River Road, Chesapeake.

In October, Buy Fresh Buy Local will present at our monthly meeting.  We'll also have several volunteer events in Indian River Park to construct a new nature trail.   This is a project we started, in cooperation with Chesapeake Parks Department and the Chesapeake Arboretum, to show off this century-old forest along the headwaters of the Indian River in the park.   There will be several work days in Saturday's (October 12th, 26th, and possibly the 19th) and we will need volunteers.

Also, remember that this Tuesday, September 3rd, 7 pm, the City is holding a Town Meeting at Indian River Middle School at 2300 Old Greenbrier Rd.   This is an opportunity to ask the City Council about topics that concern you.

For our complete calendar see

Saturday, June 29, 2013


Our quarterly Adopt-A-Road was a success today.    One team worked their way along Indian River Road picking up the trash to make our community look better and to keep this litter from being washed down the storm drains and into the river.    Sadly, they collected 14 bags of trash, most of it discarded by passing cars - beverage cans, cups, bags, scraps of paper, and way too many cigarette butts.   Cigarette butts are not biodegradable; the filters are a type of plastic that takes up to 10 years to fall apart, but even then the polymers persist in the environment.   Please don't throw your butts out the window, but dispose of them properly.  

While the first team made progress on the cleanup, a second team worked on the new gardens at the bridge corners.    Our gardeners planted Black-Eyed Susans at each bridge corner, spread mulch, and did more weeding.    The Black-Eyed Susans, a showy native, should bloom through the summer.  As you pass over the bridge, ease off the gas pedal and take a glance as our gardens grow.

Our next group cleanup will is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 14.   We look forward to having more volunteers help to spruce up the neighborhood.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Indian River Park Nature Trail

There has been great progress on our plans for establishing a nature trail in Indian River Park.   We've been consulting with the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association - Southside on trail alignment and back in April we submitted a formal proposal to the City of Chesapeake Parks and Recreation Department.   The proposal was well received and now the Parks and Recreation Department is looking to allocate funds from their Open Space budget for improvements to the park entrance area at Rokeby Ave. and Main St.

Our plans include converting a section of trail along the riparian flood zone of the Indian River inside the park into a mulched nature trail, complete with tree identification markers, benches, and some interpretive signs.   We are looking to the city to improve the entrance area by establishing an improved permeable surface parking area, adding picnic benches, an information kiosk, and bike rack.  To this we would add a  demonstration native plant and/or rain garden.   We are also looking to improve the signage and pathways around the Paramount Ave. entrance by the power lines.

We see this project providing improved access to natural open space for the community and a renewed interest by the city in the significance of the park.  It will also provide a venue that can be used by scouts, school groups, and others to learn about native vegetation and the benefits of preserving a healthy and interconnected habitat for fish, birds, and other wildlife.

Our goal is to establish the nature trail this year and have the entrance area improvements complete by the spring.   We're going to need a lot of volunteers to help with building the trail and establishing the other features.  Please contact us at if you are interested in participating or if you have any questions.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Clean the Bay Day and Other News

Participating in the 25th Clean the Bay Day, the Friends of Indian River tackled the trails and river flood plain in Indian River Park today.   We wish to give a big Thank You to the 14 volunteers that fanned out across the park.   The team collected 18 bags of mostly bottles, cans and drink cups washed down river from the neighborhoods streets into the park.  We also collected an assortment of odd items - a huge piece of carpeting, a refrigerator door, a fluorescent light tube, and chair cushions.   Along the way we spotted or heard a variety of frogs, lizards, and birds along the stream.   After the cleanup, the group sat down for a well-deserved picnic at playground.

We also got an update on the plans to establish a nature trail in the park.   The Parks Department has responded positively to our proposal and is working on funding to upgrade the Rokeby entrance to park; we'll be getting more details in the next week.  We're tentatively setting our plans to get the trail signage and amenities installed this fall.   We'll keep everyone informed as things progress.    A big thank you to our trail team - Jayne, Ed, Carol, Linda, and Kenny - for working on the proposal and plans.

Our next meeting is a Thursday, June 13th, 7 PM, at the Oaklette United Methodist Church.   Mark Woodward of Chesapeake Planning Department will speak to us about the 2035 Comprehensive Plan.   There will be light refreshments and door prizes after the presentation.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Clean the Bay Day - June 1st

Please join us for Clean the Bay Day on Saturday June 1st to help clean up our river and our bay.   We'll meet by the playground at Rokeby Ave and Providence Road at 9am and working until around noon.

This year is the 25th Anniversary of Clean the Bay Day.  During this time 122,000 volunteers, who have removed approximately 5.8 million pounds of debris from nearly 5,500 miles of shoreline in Virginia alone.   Last year, the Friends of Indian River collected about a 1000 pounds - 40 bags full - of trash from our shores.

Be part of this grand effort.   The Friends of Indian River's will be doing our cleanup along the stream buffer in Indian River Park, the headwaters of the Indian River.   This will help to spruce up the area, collect trash that will otherwise get washed into the river and impact wildlife.  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. Participants under 18 years of age must have adult supervision.

We are planning to have a picnic after the cleanup.  The Friends of Indian River will bring hot dogs, burgers, and drinks.   We invite folks to bring a side dish like dessert, chips, pasta salad to share.  To help our planning, please reply back to this e-mail if you know you will join us.   (Last minute volunteers are still always welcome).

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Indian River Bridge Gardens

Our planting efforts were delayed yesterday morning by the persistent drizzle, but around 11 am we pulled out the shovels and got to work on the corners around Indian River Bridge.  By the time we were done we set up the gardens at the two bridge corners on the westbound side of the bridge and added some plants on the eastbound side.   Altogether we planted 10 rose bushes, 6 azaleas, 4 muhly grasses, and 5 verbana.   Still to come later in the season will be black-eyed susans.

A big thank you to our volunteers for coming out to help beautify the neighborhood!

The Plant Mobile

At Work

The Volunteer Crew

Last Fall's Gardens are doing Great!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Gardening work at Indian River Bridge

A half dozen dedicated volunteers had wonderful weather to work on the planters at the corner so Indian River Bridge today.   We removed bags and bags of weeds from all four planters, including Japanese Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Phragmites, and one small Chinese Privet tree.   The team also spruced up the two gardens we planted in the fall on the eastbound side of the bridge.

This was all in preparation for our next outing on May 4th when we'll plant two more gardens on the westbound side of the bridge.   Our plans include Muhly Grasses, Knock-out Roses, and Azaleas.   We hope you can grab your gardening gloves and come out and join us on that Saturday.

Other upcoming events on our calendar include May 9th when Vickie Green will speak to our group about River Friendly Gardening at our monthly meeting and June 1st when we will participate in Clean the Bay Day by cleaning up around the streamside in the park at Rokeby and Providence.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Meeting, Cleanup Results and Upcoming Events

Its been a busy few days for the Friends of Indian River.   On Thursday evening we had our regular monthly meeting.   Carol reported on what I consider our group winning the Outstanding Citizens Award and the Mayor's Outstanding Service Award at the Chesapeake Environmental Improvement Council Awards Luncheon.   This is an accomplishment that would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of all our volunteers and members.    Then our speaker for the evening was Pam Fisher, President of the Beekeepers Guild of Southeast Virginia, who gave an extremely interesting and information filled presentation about the importance of bees in our gardens and how to attract and support bees.   We also approved our budget for our 2013 fiscal year which starts on April 1st; a copy of the budget is available on request.   

On Saturday, 11 volunteers braved the ominous clouds to come out and clean up along Indian River Road.   These cleanups are important to help beautify our neighborhood and keep trash and pollutants from being washed down the storm sewer into the river.   Despite a short rain event that interrupted the cleanup, we collected about 14 bags of garbage, about 7 of which we hauled up from the shoreline under Indian River Bridge.   Unfortunately the trash included all the usual items - bottles, cans, styrofoam, plastic bags, an innumerable number of cigarette butts (which are NOT biodegradable) - and at least one discarded motor oil container and one old motor oil filter found in the gutter.    A big thank you to our volunteers for their good work and dedication.

In April and May, we shift our attention to gardening.   Our speaker on April 11th will be naturalist, forager, and publisher Vickie Shufer will present "Meet the Natives" regarding how to use native plants in your garden.   On April 13th we resume efforts around Indian River Bridge by working to clear weeds and invasive plants from the four planters at the bridge corners in preparation for May 4th when we will plant gardens at the two bridge corners on the westbound side of the road to match the two we planted on the other side in the fall.

Stay tuned for updates on these events and much more information as we continue into our second year.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Great Backyard Bird Count

Update Feb 23 2013

American has just completed its biggest Great Backyard Bird Count ever and in our Indian River neighborhoods we had 13 checklists submitted from 6 observers.   Together they identified 48 bird species.   Birds on everyone's checklist included the Carolina Chickadee and the Northern Cardinal.   One of the more rarely reported sightings was a quartet of Greater Scaup ducks.

Cumulative counts from the various checklists:

143 American Crow 34 Northern Cardinal
126 American Goldfinch 7 Downy Woodpecker 7 Northern Mockingbird
81 American Robin 2 Eastern Bluebird 3 Pied-billed Grebe
1 Belted Kingfisher 2 Eastern Towhee 4 Pine Siskin
34 Blue Jay 110 European Starling 4 Pine Warbler
7 Boat-tailed Grackle 4 Fox Sparrow 5 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Brown Pelican 1 Gray Catbird 10 Red-breasted Nuthatch
5 Brown Thrasher 3 Great Black-backed Gull 2 Red-tailed Hawk
50 Brown-headed Cowbird 1 Great Egret 200 Red-winged Blackbird
26 Bufflehead 4 Greater Scaup 84 Ring-billed Gull
42 Canada Goose 1 Hairy Woodpecker 2 Sharp-shinned Hawk
33 Carolina Chickadee 1 hawk sp. 5 Song Sparrow
9 Carolina Wren 7 Hooded Merganser 10 Tufted Titmouse
32 Cedar Waxwing 71 House Finch 1 Turkey Vulture
105 Common Grackle 30 House Sparrow 1 White-breasted Nuthatch
32 crow sp. 13 Mallard 114 White-throated Sparrow
21 Dark-eyed Junco 97 Mourning Dove 10 Yellow-rumped Warbler

The group had a real treat at our meeting on Feb 14 as Anita and Anne from Wildbirds Unlimited talked to us about backyard birding - and even left us with some treats to share with our feathered friends.   We also discussed moving our meeting date and narrowed our consideration to the 1st Wednesday of the month starting in September.   Our next meeting will be Thursday, March 14 and Pam Fisher will be talking to us about Bees in our Garden.  On Saturday, March 16 we will have a volunteer event for our quarterly Adopt-A-Road cleanup along Indian River Road.

This weekend (Feb 15 thru 18) is the Great Backyard Bird Count.   Its an opportunity for everyone to participate in a fun and easy effort to counts birds around the nation.   This citizen effort provides valuable information to help determine what birds are where; the data is collected and analyzed by researchers at  Cornell Lab of Ornithology.   You can spend as little 15 minutes, or much of the weekend if you wish, watching birds in your backyard and reporting the count online.   For details and the link to submit your count, visit

If you do participate in the count, send a copy of count to   We would love to have a cumulative count of what was reported in our area.

Monday, February 4, 2013

More Ivy Removal on Saturday, Feb 9

The crew ready for action
Update:  We had another productive work session in Indian River Park this morning.  Six of us used the morning to clear English Ivy from the trees across another acre of the park.  That means dozens of trees that won't be smothered or host berry producing ivy.

Next Saturday, February 9th, at 9 am, we're going to have another volunteer event to tackle another area of ivy in the Park .   We'll be meeting at the park parking lot at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (on the south side of Military Highway away from the firehouse).  Wear long pants, close-toed shoes, and bring work or gardening gloves. Bring pruning clippers, loppers, screwdrivers (which are amazingly useful in prying ivy off tree trunks) and/or pruning saws if you have them.     

I hope many of you had the chance to see the front page article about the Friends of Indian River in the Clipper on January 21st.   Covering our effort to halt the spread of invasive ivy in Indian River Park, the story also highlighted the general threats of this and other invasive plants.   A link to the article can be found at

Friday, January 11, 2013

Invasive English Ivy Removal - Saturday, 1/12/13

Update 3 PM: A small, but dedicated crew came out in the early morning fog and worked on the English Ivy removal in the park.    With the goal to stop the Ivy that had climbed into the tree tops, six of us moved in with loppers, clippers, and saws.   The tactic was to remove the ivy from the bottom 4 to 6 feet of the tree, which leaves the Ivy higher up to wither and die.   This approach saves the tree from slowly being choked and prevents the the Ivy from producing seeds which are spread to other parts of the park.   We cut the Ivy from about a hundred trees.  A reporter from the Chesapeake Clipper came out to see us in action, so look for an article in next weeks Clipper.

We are planning to tackle another area of Ivy next month, on Saturday, February 9th.   Come out and join us!


On Saturday, January 12th, 9 am,  the Friends of Indian River will be having a volunteer event to remove English Ivy in Indian River Park.  We'll be meeting at the park parking lot at Rokeby Ave. and Main St. (on the south side of Military Highway away from the firehouse).  Wear long pants, close-toed shoes, and bring work or gardening gloves. Bring pruning clippers, loppers, and/or pruning saws if you have them.

Indian River Park is a beautiful 90 acre oasis in our community with miles of trails, century old trees, and a variety of wildlife.   It protects and buffers the eastern headwaters - the source - of the Indian River.   Volunteers from the Chesapeake Arboretum have identified at least 33 species of native trees in the park including massive old Beech trees and Tulip Poplars.   A variety of birds from tiny Wrens to our biggest woodpecker, the Pileated Woodpecker, can be spotted amongst the trees.   The park is favorite local walkers and for the bikers of the Eastern Virginia Mountain Bike Association.

But the park has been invaded.    While most of the park is mostly clear, several large areas of English Ivy are established and dozens more hot-spots exist around the park.   Started from seeds dropped by birds, the English Ivy if left unchecked threatens to turn Indian River Park into a green desert.   While birds do eat the seeds of mature Ivy, little else does.   The Ivy crowds out all other ground cover, smothers bushes, and eventually overtops and kills trees.   Having little nutritional value to wildlife, it breaks the food chain so birds and  animals are also forced out of the park.   Eventually you have nothing but a boring green carpet of one kind of leaf.

But the invasion is still early and the impact is limited.   If we get in there now we can contain and start rolling back the invaders.    Our first step will be to stop the Ivy from crawling up the trees; when it climbs the tree that it matures and starts making seeds.   Stopping the tree climb will dramatically slow the spread giving us time to eliminate small outbreaks and eventually strip out the major outbreaks.

On-going vigilance will be needed but come out and join us this Saturday as we take our steps to push out this green invader.

There is a good video on English Ivy removal steps at
and another straight forward list of instructions at