James River Water Levels

Westham Gauge
Gauge Height: 4.04'
Flow: 2220 cfps

Trail Conditions: Richmond


Todays Tides: Richmond Locks

High Tide: 10:30pm
Low Tide: 5:42am

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Rare Opportunity to Explore Island in Tidal James River

Andy Thompson

September 4, 2018 9:45am

If you’ve never been to Presquile National Wildlife Refuge (or perhaps never even heard of it), this is a great opportunity to explore an island in the tidal James River that is rarely open to the public.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just announced the twice-annual Presquile “field day,” scheduled for Saturday, September 22nd. The event offers visitors an opportunity to explore the 1,329-acre island refuge and the native plants and animals it supports, as well as the sustainably designed education facilities of the James River Ecology School. But here’s the key: pre-registration is required for all participants. Spots are limited, and they always fill up.

Part of the James River Ecology School at Presquile National Wildlife Refuge.

For those registered in advance, access will be provided to the island and its 3.5 miles of wildlife observation trail, boardwalks, interior creeks and select facilities. Visitors can meet FWS employees and environmental partners, view interpretive materials and displays within the Menenak Discovery Center, and learn about the energy-efficient components of the James River Ecology School facilities. A bird walk, guided by a Richmond Audubon naturalist will begin at 7 a.m. Other guided and self-guided tours will be available throughout the day. Limited family-friendly programs and activities also will be offered, including canoeing. James River Association educators will offer programs for kids and highlight environmental education programming opportunities with the ecology school.

All prospective participants must call or e-mail between August 27th and September 19th to secure a seat on the boat for a specific time. Space is limited. People can register for slots within 30 minute windows (as early as 7 a.m-for the bird walk and as late as 2 p.m). Participants will gather at 4101 Bermuda Hundred Road in Chester (AdvanSix’s east parking lot). The event, parking, shuttle and boat transportation are free. In preparation for the adventure, participants are asked to dress appropriately for the weather and bring their own snacks and drinking water.

To reserve your seat, e-mail fw5rw_evrnwr@fws.gov; and provide the following information: preferred reservation time (e.g., 9:30 a.m. or 11 a.m.), total number of people in your party (e.g., 4 — myself and three guests), and the best e-mail address to reach you for confirmation of reservation. List “Field Day” in the subject line of your e-mail. Click here for additional details about the refuge.

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?