Communities Working in Partnership to Conserve and Protect the Lower Appomattox River

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FOLAR organizes tree planting along the Appomattox River in Hopewell

Hopewell, VA – May 20, 2020. The weather was perfect – sunny, clear, and cool, last week when the Hopewell Recreation and Parks staff assembled to tackle a major environmental stewardship project along the Appomattox River shoreline near the Hopewell Riverwalk at City Park.

Newly planted bald cypress tree beautifies the Hopewell Riverwalk shoreline. Photo by: Hopewell Recreation and Parks

Through a grant awarded to the Friends of the Lower Appomattox River (FOLAR) by Virginia American Water through their Environmental Grant Program, a number of young bald cypress trees were carefully planted by the Hopewell Recreation and Parks staff.

“Virginia American Water is committed to being a steward of the environment and we’re proud to support the efforts of local organizations that share our vision,” said Barry Suits, president of Virginia American Water. “We applaud the work by FOLAR and Hopewell Recreation and Parks to complete this project for today’s Hopewell residents and for generations to come.”

FOLAR was awarded the grant prior to the current public health crisis and the challenges it brought on. “Connecting partners across jurisdictions, public agencies, businesses, and other nonprofit organizations is one of the important roles FOLAR serves in our region as we work to advance our mission to protect the river for all to enjoy,” said Wendy Austin, Executive Director of FOLAR. “We are thrilled that the project is completed and look forward to more opportunities to work together.”

The timing of the planting was coordinated with the incoming tide providing a good natural watering for the trees. The trees were purchased from a local nursery helping to support local business. In addition to improving the river environment, the trees also help increase the natural beauty along the shoreline, which can be viewed from the Hopewell Riverwalk, one of the city’s major recreational destinations. “We enjoy a strong partnership with both charitable organizations and were happy to help make this project a reality,” said Aaron Reidmiller, the Director of Hopewell Recreation and Parks.

The bald cypress is native to Virginia and can grow to over 100 feet tall and 6 feet wide. The trees thrive in standing water, making them perfect for the shoreline environment. They provide much needed habitat for wildlife and they help control erosion and filter runoff. Through the years the bald cypress has been substantially harvested for its rot-resistant wood, but they are a slow growing species. This has resulted in many fewer of the trees along the river.