Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day Richmond April 25

April 14, 2010
This year’s Earth Day Celebration in Richmond promises to be bigger and better than ever.

“With new sponsors and the booming development taking place in Manchester, the planning committee is full of new and exciting plans for this year’s event,” said Noel McKenzie, director of the Enrichmond Foundation and co-chair of the planning committee along with Foundation board member Sandra Booth and Tonie Stevens of Style Weekly.

The event will take place on Sunday, April 25, from noon to 5 p.m. along Hull Street south of the Mayo Bridge, which crosses the river at 14th Street.

“This area of Manchester is really blossoming, and the public will have the opportunity to tour some of the new apartments and properties being developed,” said Heather Russell of Fountainhead Properties, one of the major sponsors for the event this year.

The celebration will include a host of environmentally conscious vendors and exhibitors, as well as programs for children, workshops, local bands, artwork, entertainment and food.

The lineup of local bands on the Main Stage, which will be located in the parking lot at 2nd and Hull streets, includes David Schultz and the Skyline at 12:45 p.m., the Photosynthesizers at 2 p.m., Hot Lava at 3:10 p.m., and Gills & Wings at 4 p.m. You can sample their music and learn much more about Richmond’s Earth Day Celebration online at

Alicia R. Zatcoff, the city of Richmond’s new sustainability manager, will kick off the festival from the Main Stage at noon with opening remarks and an update on the city’s sustainability efforts.

An acoustic stage in the Kid’s Activity area, which will be in the fountain courtyard at Plant Zero, will feature music by Rockitz, kicking off with Pam McCarthy at noon and followed by Ricky Allen, Heather Griffith, Chris Branch, People's Choice, Tabb Justis, the Floating Folk Band, Jessica Salamonsky, Kirsten Hazler, and Doug Fisher.

A number of sustainable workshops organized by the Backyard Farmer and Save the Trash will be offered on 3rd Street to help participants create a sustainable lifestyle, and art exhibits will be on display inside Art Works and Plant Zero.

Art Works will feature a unique exhibit of art made from recycled or found materials, and “Sky was yellow, Sun was blue” will be on in Plant Zero’s Russell Projects contemporary gallery. Artists will provide live demonstrations, and the public can make their own recycled art or join in the Earth Salutations led by Karen Hansen and Ellie Burke in the Yoga and Wellness Lounge.

The James River Outdoor Coalition will hold its annual Outdoor Gear Swap, so come prepared to recycle your gear or pick up some gently used items, and Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities will hold it’s annual Fish Festival, featuring the “Dance of the Migrating Shad” and an entire slate of fish-related activities next to the Mayo Bridge.

Style Weekly, a key sponsor of this year’s Earth Day Celebration, will reveal the recipients of its annual Green Hero Awards in a program starting at 4 p.m. at Plant Zero. The award goes to ordinary businesses and people who have made an extraordinary commitment to preserve and improve our planet Earth and our community.

The Earth Day celebration is free to attend thanks to the support of the event’s sponsors: Fountainhead Properties, Style Weekly, Dominion Resources, Altria, Urban Grid Solar, Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, Brown Distributing, Bud Light, Widmer Brothers, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, Virginia House Development Authority, Walter Parks Architect and Green Duck.

For more information on the event or to volunteer, visit

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

City to Kick Off Summer Camp Registration April 14

April 7, 2010
Richmond's Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities will offer summer day camps for area children ages 6 through 12 at the department’s community centers from June 21 through Aug. 20. Called the “Great Summer Escape,” the camps will meet on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and will provide a variety of educational, cultural, artistic, athletic, and fun social activities for children, as well as a nutritional breakfast and lunch.

Registration for city residents will cost $225 per child and will take place starting on April 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at each community center and will continue at the same time on weekdays until the camps are filled. Registration for the camp at Mary Munford Elementary School also will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 14, but it will be held at the Randolph Community Center.

Registration for all non-city residents will cost $245 per child and will start on May 17 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the community centers.

To find a community center near you visit the department's website at or call (804) 646-5733.

The department also offers a variety of “specialty” camps that focus on specific activities such as art or an athletic skill. These camps are held at various times throughout the summer and costs vary as well. Complete information on these camps can be found in the summer program guide published on the department’s website at and available at all department community centers, city libraries and city hall.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Please Don't Feed the Geese

April 1, 2010
Now that spring is here and so many people are out enjoying Richmond's parks, the city’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is once again asking the public not to feed the geese in Byrd Park.

“While the Canada geese are beautiful and feeding them may be fun, it is not healthy for our parks or for the geese,” said J.R. Pope, director of the department.

Canada geese are migrating birds. Feeding them encourages them to stop migrating and leads to the domestication of these wild animals. The result of this is an overpopulation of geese in the park, which in turn causes environmental damage to the park, creates unsanitary conditions, adds pollutants to the lakes, and can result in diseased flocks that spread diseases to other animals. In addition, human food is not appropriate for the geese and in the long-term can result in deformities.

Geese that do not migrate also rapidly loose their fear of humans and can become very territorial and aggressive.

The department began using border collies to help control the goose population in Byrd Park in 2008 and has brought them back this year. The dogs are trained to target Canada geese and chase them, which encourages their migration without harming them.

“By feeding the geese, the public is undoing everything we are trying to do to keep our parks well-maintained and enjoyable to visit,” said Pope, who recommends that the public enjoy watching the geese or photographing them instead of feeding them. “Nobody wants to come to a park and wade through the goose droppings,” he said.

Canada geese are not to be confused with domestic geese and ducks. They can be identified by their long black necks. A picture of a Canada goose can be found at


· With increased urbanization over the past 25 years, the population of resident geese in the United States has increased dramatically and shows no signs of declining.

· There are an estimated 5 million resident geese in the continental US today.

· Geese typically start breeding at 3 years of age and can continue for up to 17 years. Although, geese breed just once a year, during March and April, a goose lays 2-8 eggs, called a clutch. (For every 100 birds, with half or 50 being female, this can amount to as many as 400 additional geese a year.)

· Resident geese in urban areas typically have few natural predators, such as foxes and coyotes, making it easy for them to multiply.

· The crowding of geese in concentrated areas increases their stress and susceptibility to infections and diseases, like avian cholera or avian botulism, and facilitates the rapid spread of diseases.

· Typically the human food used to feed geese (white bread, etc.) does not provide the nutrition needed for proper growth and development and over the long-term can result in deformities.

· Large concentrations of geese can harm the environment through overgrazing causing erosion and the degradation of the landscape, making it undesirable for other species and unsightly for humans.

· Each goose typically produces 1.5 pounds of droppings a day, which is not conducive to park use and can add excessive nutrients to nearby lakes and ponds resulting in water quality problems such as algae blooms.

· Geese typically adjust rapidly to urban settings and lose their “wildness.” They loose their fear of humans, cars and planes, and can become very territorial and aggressive “nuisance animals.” They can also cause traffic and safety problems.

· Short grass with water nearby is the ideal habitat for geese, which is why so many are found at airports, golf courses, office parks and city parks. With “free food” handed out, this ensures that the birds will stay.

· Geese haven’t simply “forgotten” to migrate. Migration is a learned behavior - not instinct. The birds must learn to migrate from their parents. If the adults do not migrate, each new generation also will not migrate.