NAME & PROFESSION: Betsy Slade, retired.
JAMES RIVER ORGANIZATION: Friends of James River Park.
WHY YOU LOVE THE JAMES: Peace, serenity, escape from daily hubbub, beauty of an eternal river that is always there and always different. (Note: She can often be found at the river with her canine companion, Baxter)
HOW YOU HELP THE RIVER: Trash pick-up, trail maintenance by reporting problems, cutting down invasive vines, recycling all the stuff I find in the summer — clothes, towels, cigarette lighters, blankets — and once a stripped down stolen VW.
WHAT WOULD YOU IMPROVE OR CHANGE: Put some gravel in a few mud holes.
The River Lovers profile feature allows James River News Hub to introduce the people who help preserve, maintain, build, shape and play on the James River. Find out why they love the James, how they help and what they would do to improve the James. So far, we have profiled:
We need more people to declare their love for the James River, but you don’t have to be part of an organization to be profiled. Interested? We keep it simple and have people submit answers to five general questions, and if possible either send a good river photo of themselves at the river.
- NAME & PROFESSION:
- JAMES RIVER ORGANIZATION(S):
- WHY YOU LOVE THE JAMES:
- HOW YOU HELP THE RIVER:
- WHAT WOULD YOU IMPROVE OR CHANGE:
NAME & PROFESSION: Christine Beish, Paralegal, Kerns & Kastenbaum, PLC
JAMES RIVER ORGANIZATION(S): Volunteer, Enrichmond Foundation
WHY YOU LOVE THE JAMES: For me, the James River is a great place to take my kids. They love jumping around on the rocks, exploring the trails, and searching for clams, snakes, fish and other wildlife. We visit the JRPS about once a month, and we like to encourage our friends to join us. There are so many different parks to enjoy, and since they are always changing with the seasons, we never seem to run out of new adventures. While we’re hiking, we’ll talk about the history of the area, the many ways Richmonders have been using the James for work and play for centuries, and what we can do as citizens to keep the river healthy. I’m hopeful that exposing my children and their friends to all the gifts the river has to offer will inspire them to fall in love with and be passionate about the James and its conservation and health.
HOW YOU HELP THE RIVER: I think keeping the James clean and healthy is one of the most important responsibilities we citizens have. In June of this year, I participated in the 11th annual James River Advisory Council river clean-up at Reedy Creek. This is a fantastic and well-organized event, and I was amazed at how much was accomplished in a such short amount of time with a clean-up effort of this size and scale.
Also, over at the Enrichmond Foundation, I’m working with executive director Noel McKenzie to establish some social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to communicate about various events, conservation issues and clean-up efforts in all of the City of Richmond’s parks, including the JRPS.
WHAT WOULD YOU IMPROVE OR CHANGE: I would like to see Richmond offer more opportunities for children to enjoy the James. Classes like paddling, boating and fishing could be offered, along with family friendly clean-up efforts, guided river walks, and conservation classes. Just to name a few! I’d also like to see more prominent signage and better access points for all age groups be incorporated in the parks.
NAME & PROFESSION: Matt Perry, President and co-owner Riverside Outfitters.
JAMES RIVER ORGANIZATIONS: Friends of the James River Park, James River Outdoor Coalition, James River Association.
WHY YOU LOVE THE JAMES: It’s incredible, natural beauty that changes with the seasons. Diversity of recreation options. Nature dictates the character of the river — not men and dam release schedules. It’s a collective backyard for us all in a time when “apart” seems to be more prevalent than “together.”
HOW YOU HELP THE RIVER: Help people fall in love (or back in love) with it. Advocate publicly for its protection and conservation. Donate time and money to river-based causes. Clean up litter. Dislodge severe strainers. Ensure my kids understand its importance and magnificence. Keep it company every chance I get. Deeply appreciate it.
WHAT WOULD YOU IMPROVE OR CHANGE: Spread the love from two or three areas of high-density river use (Belle Isle, Pony Pasture, Huguenot Flatwater) to five or six areas of lower-density use (including better access and parking at Bosher’s Dam, Powhite or maybe the Pump House).
NAME & PROFESSION: Molly Dellinger-Wray, Project Coordinator at VCU’s Partnership for People with Disabilities
JAMES RIVER ORGANIZATION: Friends of James River Park
WHY YOU LOVE THE JAMES: As a proud city dweller, I love living in a neighborhood where I can walk to my bank, job, grocery store and post office. Ralph White calls James River Park, “A little bit of wilderness in the heart of the city.” I take a break from the urban landscape by walking the trails of James River Park. I leave refreshed and ready to focus upon my responsibilities again. I have walked there everyday for 10 years with my best buddy, a golden retriever named Zorro. He passed away last summer, but I am teaching our new puppy about the joys of James River Park. My husband and I also love to pack lunch and kayak over to one of the many islands in the James for a picnic.
HOW YOU HELP THE RIVER: I have volunteered countless hours for the Friends of James River Park over the past 10 years. I think that I have held every leadership office, and helped coordinate their ongoing efforts for park improvements. In addition to rolling our sleeves up and helping the park staff with whatever they need, the Friends of James River Park does important advocacy work to promote the park with our city and state officials. We conducted a user survey one summer that showed that over 50 percent of this city park’s visitors reside outside of the city limits. Yet, James River Park remains funded solely through the city of Richmond. For me, everyday is a clean up day in James River Park. I always pick up trash when I see it and urge others to do the same.
WHAT WOULD YOU IMPROVE OR CHANGE:
- I would like everyone who uses the park to support the Friends of James River Park and their many efforts for park improvement! It’s not expensive and easy to join through the website: www.jamesriverpark.org
- I would like to meet with city officials, and river groups to brainstorm a solution to the many cars looking for parking places. Park visitors need easy transportation that can transport people, dogs, boats, inner tubes, and picnic coolers.
- I would love to see Park Rangers in the park to provide impromptu education and answer questions and remind folks when it is not safe to go rock hopping if the river is too high.
- I would like the surrounding counties to recognize James River Park for its regional value, and contribute to its maintenance and upkeep.