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Monday, July 18, 2011

Eastward to Westover

Silly Group Shot
Day 22, July 16th
We awoke today in fear (if only for a moment) thanks to a prank pulled by some Expedition members- they must have been possessed by a ghost of the Weston plantation, our campsite for the evening. After a comforting meal of oatmeal we began paddling to the Rice Center. 
The Rice Center, run by VCU, is a conference space and environmental education center that is open by request.  We meet with Holly, a steam ecology expert, who first told us about the green products that were used to build the center.  Some examples include: solar power, leftover denim for insulation, rain water for the toilets and garden water, green roof (planters on the roof to reduce runoff,  improve insulation and produce oxygen) and geothermal heating and cooling.  Then we went outside to the mesocosms and looked at the diverse macro-invertebrate habitat that developed from just rainwater. Two buckets were filled with fresh and one with salt water and left alone.  These mesocosms were then left and rain water brought in algae.  Then the tanks began to flourish with many different types of aquatic life, such as: tadpoles, dragon fly larva, backswimmers, beetles many others.  We fished out different organisms and looked at them using in the tray but also using a microscope. 
After we finished with the macro-invertebrates we sat down in the cool air condition room for lunch. When lunch was done we took a walk down to the marsh land that used to be cut off by a dam. Once there, Holly told us about the history about the land, that it used to be a hunting club, then a YMCA, and finally into the Rice Center. We also talked about the wildlife that now lives there. A surprise visit came from Cindy Balderson (Dominion) and her family, who walk around with us awhile.
We were then met up with our loving land support team, Sadie and Claire, who paddled with us the rest of the way to Westover Plantation.  There we meet Mr. and Mrs. Fisher who are active JRA members and lovers of the river.  This amazing couple is graciously allowing us to camp in their front lawn.  The team seems pumped about getting out tomorrow and kicking some more Tidal James butt as we paddle our canoes to the bay.
Written By: Jessica Frazier, Emily Betts, Isaac Schumacher
Dipping in a Mesocosm at the Rice Center
Claire & Isaac Arrive at Westover Plantation

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