A Project Director
After Bandy Field was established as an official public park by the City of Richmond and designated as a nature park, the Friends of Bandy Field (FOBF) wanted to establish a wetland in the low, rainwater collection area of the park. They also wished to remove invasive plants and to replace them with a variety of trees and shrubs native to the area. To accomplish this, FOBF set out to recruit a consultant to help plan the park enhancement initiative. Mr. Robert A. S. Wright, an environmental planner, was recommended to the FOBF Board by an officer of the Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS) to serve as the consultant to design and guide the completion of the desired project. Mr. Wright, himself a VNPS member and native Richmonder, is a professional wetland scientist and a certified forestry and wildlife conservationist. He agreed to serve without fee as project director for the Bandy Field Wetland and Habitat Restoration Project.
In his role as Project Director for the Park's natural enhancement effort, Mr. Wright inventoried the Field's plants, identified the invasive exotics for removal, selected a variety of native plants for restoration of the habitats, and developed the entire master plan that would make the initiative both ecologically healthy and wildlife friendly. The plans and recommendations to guide the effort were included in two major documents that were entitled, "Bandy Field Nature Park Habitat Improvement Project - Final Action Plan - July 18, 2003" and "Post Construction Status Report & Drainage Improvement Plan - Bandy Field Nature Park Improvement Project Phase I & II - June 1, 2004." The Final Action Plan is available as a PDF file (2.9 MB) ; also available are the appendixes Statement of Findings Memorandum (4.4MB) from July 2002 and the Land Use History Narrative.
We were supported in our project to enhance Bandy Field without changing its character as an open nature park by a number of organizations. The Pocahontas chapter of the Virginia Native Plant Society and Robert Wright were very helpful as mentioned above. In April of 2000 members of the Pocahontas chapter undertook a “plant walk” on Bandy Field to catalog the plants present. The report listed many species of native plants. Members of the society also found several invasive plants and warned that we should take action to prevent the invasive plants from driving out desirable native plants. You can find the entire plant inventory on pages 4-7 of an Appendix to the Final Action Plan document.
We received continued help and advice from the City of Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, and in particular from the Superintendent, Mike Barbour, and Ms. Mary Lois Mitchum, manager of the southwest region of the City.
Another organization that supported us was the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. Its program coordinators helped to organize many volunteer "Action Days", informed us about wetlands, and helped us formulate our plan for the plantings in our small wetlands area.
We were also supported in all of our endeavors by the Boxwood and Tuckahoe Garden Clubs. They provided valuable financial help and contributed many volunteers, a number of whom joined the Friends of Bandy Field as members. In addition, the two garden clubs applied to the Garden Club of Virginia for the prestigious Common Wealth Award. In October, 2004 the first prize of $5,000 was awarded to the two garden clubs for projects connected to Bandy Field Nature Park. It enabled the Friends of Bandy Field to buy trees and bushes for its habitat improvement effort, to eradicate invasive plants, and to develop a website that will provide information about many aspects of Bandy Field. In addition, the prize helped in providing an educational outreach program which would let school-age children participate more fully in the experience of a nature park situated between the City of Richmond and Henrico County. Our member, Mary Glen Taylor, and a dedicated group of garden club members prepared twelve ecology boxes containing information about the ecology of woodlands, wetlands, habitat restoration, and the removal of invasives.
Also providing consistent support are members of the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scouts have helped us on numerous workdays, planting trees and digging trenches. Several Eagle Scout candidates undertook projects to enhance the nature park. These projects included constructing the wetland bridge, building blue bird boxes, removing ivy from the woodlands, and spreading many dump-truck loads of woodchips to prevent weeds from growing.
Many other volunteers have come to Bandy Field for our frequent workdays from organizations including the Virginia Muslim Coalition For Public Affairs, Richmond Tree Stewards, Bank of America, James River Garden Club, Falls of the James Chapter of the Sierra Club, Orchard House School, Collegiate School, Douglas Freeman High School, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Richmond. We thank the volunteers from all these organizations and the many individual volunteers as well.
Removal of Invasive Plants
A major effort to remove invasive plants began in 2003. The most common invasive plants at the park are tree of heaven (ailanthus), wisteria, and English ivy.
Learn more about the harm done by these plants at the Plant Conservation Alliances websiteand from Invasive.org.
The City Department of Parks and Recreation removed widespread ailanthus growth from Bandy Field Nature Park in January of 2003. Most of the ailanthus was located in the southwest corner of Bandy Field. The Friends of Bandy Field were able to cover the considerable cost of this undertaking thanks to the generous support of its members and the Boxwood and Tuckahoe Garden Clubs. The removal of ailanthus turned out to be an ongoing project during the following years. Another major problem was tall ragweed which threatened to choke newly planted trees and bushes. Our president, Charles Price, together with volunteers battled the ragweed again and again. The spreading of woodchips in the spring of 2006 seems to have helped considerably in combating the ragweed invasion. Removal of invasives is an ongoing effort at the park.
Planting Trees and Bushes
The planting of new trees and bushes was often arduous and exhausting due to the hard clay soil. We could never have accomplished it without the guidance of our program director and our many volunteers who spent many Saturday mornings in sometimes very warm and sometimes very chilly weather digging, raking, seeding, planting, and spreading woodchips. The result of this effort can be admired in several areas. The trees that were planted in the woodland area in the part of the Field that is next to Chandler Circle include the following (with links to the Forest Biology and Dendrology Educational Sites at Virginia Tech):
Willow Oak, Loblolly Pine, Shagbark Hickory, Tulip Poplar, American Holly,Red Cedars, Dogwood, Redbud, Arrow Wood Viburnum, Winthrop Viburnum, Wax Myrtle, Cranberry Viburnum, Witch Hazel, and Service Berry.
All of these are native trees and some furnish berries for birds. The trees also filled gaps where ailanthus trees had been removed. Some trees died due to drought and ragweed infestation and had to be replaced. In 2006 a large amount of woodchips were spread to help control growth. In the winter of 2005 twelve loblollies and nine cedars were planted in the area next to Three Chopt Road. These plantings were made possible by funds from the Common Wealth Award.