Friday, December 26, 2014

2014 Year End Report

Looking back, 2014 has been a very productive year for the Friends of Indian River and our community.   Through tree plantings, gardens, cleanups, improvements at the park, and maintaining a line of communication with the city, we’ve strived to enhance our community.   Your support continues to be 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.

Perhaps the biggest single accomplishment was working with the City to plant 30 trees along the approach to the Oaklette Bridge over the Indian River.  These include nine Bald Cypresses and a pair of American Hollies in the median.   It was touch and go over the long hot summer, but all of the trees have survived and we can expect them to start thriving over the next couple of years.   Of course, we’ve also maintained and expanded our Adopt-A-Spot flower gardens at the four corners of the bridge.

We held five major cleanups in the community supporting the Adopt-A-Road program, the Great American Cleanup, Clean the Bay Day, and the International Coastal Cleanup.   Overall, our volunteers collected and disposed of about 100 bags of trash from our roads, park, and river.   This is trash that would otherwise litter our main street and be washed into the river and bay.     We’ve also staying in contact with the city as they work to resolve water utility issues at the Indian River Shopping Center and make efforts to encourage its revitalization.

There was major progress at Indian River Park this year.  We had another tree planting event at Indian River Park and have volunteers maintaining the new nature trail.   The city installed picnic tables, and new fence, benches, an information board, and finished the planned work at the entrance area.    Early next year, our volunteers will install the planned native plant garden at the entrance.   And the city is actively explorer a site for a possible canoe and kayak launch along the tidal section of the Indian River.

All told, around 40 volunteers performed over 700 hours of service to improve the quality of life in our community.   And that doesn’t even count another 20 volunteers who came out exclusively for Clean the Bay Day.

Taking a, quite literally, deeper look at the river, a recent water quality report gave the Indian River an “F” due to unacceptable bacterial and nutrient contamination.   There is simply too much “poop” and fertilizer being washed into the river.    But hope is not lost. We’re seeing more oysters establishing themselves along the river and just this year a local resident videoed a family of river otters playing and swimming in the river.   And we’ve been working with the Elizabeth River Project to create a new Restoration Plan for the Eastern Branch, including the Indian River.   A similar plan for the Lafayette River resulted in significant improvements that have removed that section of river from the state’s “impaired waters” list.   At the same time the Lafayette’s program created a greater sense of community and pride, and we will work for similar results along the Indian River.

In the coming year we’ll continue our cleanups in the community, tend to the various gardens we’ve established along Indian River Road and at Indian River Park, trail maintenance, and continue our contacts with the city regarding the shopping center.   Our monthly guest speaker program will continue will topics like oyster gardening, composting, urban parks, and backyard habitats.   We’ll also work to align our efforts with the Eastern Branch Restoration plan to improve public access to the river and parks, support efforts for natural habitat and shoreline restoration, and help folks take better care of their yards through the River Star Home program.  

Please join us for our Annual Meeting on January 15, 7 PM, at the Oaklette United Methodist Church, to discuss and provide input to our plans for 2015.    We’ll also be holding elections for our board of directors at this meeting.   There will also be a virtual “fly-through” tour of the Indian River watershed.

We wish everyone a happy and safe New Year.

Rogard Ross

Friends of Indian River
PO Box 13772,
Chesapeake, VA 23325

The Friends of Indian River, Inc. is organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.