Mike Burton (front) and Greg Rollins work on Buttermilk East. Credit: Richard Chittick
James River Park System Superintendent Nathan Burrell sent me an email recently with a raft of year-end numbers on park visitation, volunteer hours, etc. The headline stat? Based on extrapolations from car and person counters set up at the 12 most popular park locations, the JRPS saw 1,305, 907 visits last year. That’s up from 900,224 in 2014, and makes it by far the most popular site in the Richmond region, according to this article in the Times-Dispatch (Maymont is No. 2).
Here’s a sampling of some 2015 statistics:
Total visits: 1,305,907
Most popular park unit: Care to hazard a guess? It was Belle Isle, and it wasn’t even close. Add together the count from visits coming in from the north (509,743) and visits coming in from the south (145,770) and you’ve got 655,513 visits in 2015, about half of all total park visits. Pony Pasture was a distant second with 193,027. Texas Beach, somewhat surprisingly to me, came in third with 108,336 visits.
Volunteering: 2075 volunteers worked 8441 hours on projects like trail building, tree planting, trash cleanups, graffiti painting, invasive species removal and much, much more. At $22/hour, that’s the equivalent of 4.2 permanent employees. Those volunteer groups also donated $31,743 in 2015, up from $5,513 the previous year.
Burrell also noted the year-end awards the JRPS garnered from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
Best Urban Park; Honorable mention – Best Paddling River; Honorable mention – Best Biking Trail (Buttermilk); Best SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) Spot (James River); Runner Up – Most Inspiring Outdoor Person (Burrell).
All in all, a pretty darn good year from Richmond’s favorite playground.