In the spring of 2014, the James River Association and James River Park System initiated a re-vegetation project at Great Shiplock Park, a member of the greater James River Park System, on Chapel Island in Richmond, Virginia.
Great Shiplock Park is a waterfront park adjacent to the eastern-most remaining lock of the old Kanawha Canal Lock System. The park allows visitors to walk across the lock and drawbridge, owned and maintained by the City of Richmond, and down various trails to the James River. Signage throughout the park educates visitors about the Kanawha Canal and nearby Rockett’s Landing, an area that was once an international port. The park lies within the tidal portion of the James River and is subject to occasional flood events. The park contains a non-motorized boat launch and fishing is permitted.
A majority of the park’s natural area has been overrun with invasive species that have prohibited the growth of important native species. The goal of the restoration project was to remove these encroaching invasives, mainly privet and honeysuckle, and re-vegetate the area with a variety of native tree, plant and shrub species, like spice bush, paw paw, swamp white oak, river birch, asters, wild oats and a variety of others.
In spring of 2014, volunteers from Groundwork RVA, Capital Trees, HandsOn Greater Richmond, WTVR Channel 6 and James River Association helped remove these invasive species and planted a variety of plant and shrub species and tree seedlings, donated by the James River Park System. In October, James River Association volunteers planted an additional 300 plants and seedlings. Another planting will take place in November of 2014.
This re-vegetation effort has given these native species an opportunity to establish their root systems and provide new and improved natural habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Additionally, this vegetated area forms a filter strip, or riparian buffer, that will help filter runoff from the city and other nearby impervious surfaces, thereby improving the water quality of the river.
To learn more or to volunteer, contact Justin Doyle (information below).
James River Association
Other Partners Involved
Chesapeake Conservancy, James River Park System, volunteer groups