Free trees and a chance to explore an RVA hidden gem

March 17, 2014 · 2 minute read

While we await Old Man Winter releasing his icy grip, I wanted to point out two recent releases from the James River Association that should be of interest to outdoors folks in the area.

The bunkhouse for the JRA's Ecology School on Presquile.

The bunkhouse for the JRA’s Ecology School on Presquile.

The first is an opportunity to discover one of Central Virginia’s hidden gem outdoor destinations: Presquile National Wildlife Refuge. Just 15 miles from downtown Richmond, Presquile is a 1,329-acre island in the James River that’s only open by appointment. The NWR system has a few facilities there, and the JRA’s ecology school is based there as well. It’s teeming with wildlife and is a great place to discover by canoe or kayak. And on April 12, the public has that opportunity for the second year in a row. The JRA and US Fish and Wildlife Service and holding their annual Presquile Field Day. Activities lead by the James River Association, VCU, US Fish & Wildlife Service, VA Master Naturalists and the Audubon Society will be going on throughout the day. This is a once-a-year opportunity to see one of Central Virginia’s most stunning natural settings.

The JRA also recently announced that they’re giving away free trees. Who doesn’t love free, right? Especially when we’re talking trees. Actually, they’re giving away money to reimburse people for the cost of planting trees, but the end result is the same.

ecology school boardwalk

The wetlands boardwalk on Presquile.

During the spring and fall planting seasons, the James River Association is offering free
trees to Richmond City residents. Homeowners can receive up to a $200 reimbursement per
home for trees planted on their property.

This tree incentive program is only open to City of Richmond residents and reimbursements are
available March through April, and September through November 2014. Homeowners must be
an existing River Hero Home or submit an application to become a new River Hero Home to

River Hero Homes is JRA’s certification program that recognizes homeowners who are
successfully taking steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater and
pollution leaving their property. To become certified, JRA requires homeowners to install a
river-friendly practice, such as planting trees or installing a rain barrel, as well as following some
simple everyday actions to reduce pollution. These actions, which include picking up after your
pet or planting native plants, may seem small, but when adopted on a wide scale, can have a
significant impact on local water quality.

Tree reimbursements are available on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available until
funding runs out. For more information about this program, and to find out if your property
qualifies, click here.