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Gauge Height: 6.26'
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Friends of JRPS honor 2014 ‘River Heroes’

Andy Thompson

July 3, 2014 10:30am
'River Heroes' Ralph White (left) and Rich Young. Credit: Friends of JRP

‘River Heroes’ Ralph White (left) and Rich Young. Credit: Friends of JRP

Every year the Friends of the James River Park recognize a couple of ‘River Heroes.’ As they say on their website, “With this annual contest, we hope to bring attention to the magnificent, scenic river that runs through Richmond and to those who have worked to make the James River a better place for both people and wildlife.”

This year two very deserving candidates were chosen for the award, one you’ve likely heard of, the other whose name you may not know but whose face you probably recognize if you spend much time in the JRP. Here’s what the Friends had to say in honoring each. (Click here to read about past winners.)


A classic Richmond rafting shot by 'River Hero' Rich Young.

A classic Richmond rafting shot by ‘River Hero’ Rich Young.

Most of you know one of the winners, Ralph White, former superintendent of JRPS, who was chosen for his ceaseless devotion to the park, a devotion which has been largely responsible for the wonderful amenity we enjoy today. His more than 30 years of work with JRPS have helped to create a national model for urban wilderness parks, and he has been recognized by both The Garden Club of America and the Sierra Club for his conservation efforts.

If a picture paints a thousand words, Rich Young has said millions. If you are one of his 500 Facebook friends, you are familiar with Rich’s photos of river scenes, activities, people, flora and fauna. What many do not know about Rich is that he has been involved as a volunteer at JRP for over 20 years and has participated in innumerable projects. Whether it’s building a structure, promoting an event, or helping to educate park users about an issue, Rich has quietly lent a hand to vastly improve, enhance, and champion James River Park. Rich also teaches paddling. His classes have helped hundreds of people learn to safely enjoy the river in canoes or kayaks. 


About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?