Conservation and Environmental Protection

Parks and Recreation supports conservation and environmental stewardship in a variety of ways.

  • Monitoring of vernal pools on county property with assistance from the Virginia Master Naturalist Program.
  • Monitoring of blue bird nesting boxes in various county parks.
  • Monitoring of wood duck nesting boxes at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area.
  • Working with Master Naturalists to tag monarch butterflies.
  • Monitoring species of butterflies and dragonflies at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area. Public education programs to net, identify, and release butterflies and dragonflies.
  • Designated no-mow zone at Dutch Gap Conservation Area and planted milkweed for monarchs.
  • Worked with Center for Conservation Biology to set up nesting boxes for the American kestrel.
  • Identifying bald eagle nesting sites on county property.
  • Coordination with licensed bird banders who conduct the prothonotary warbler study and the MAPS program (monitoring avian productivity and survivorship).
  • Assisting the Richmond Audubon Society in the annual winter bird count.
  • Identification and management of wildflower data for county parks.
  • Native plant gardens in the parks. Two at Rockwood Nature Center.
  • Coordination with a variety of groups (such as scouts, Sail Angels, etc.) in conducting trash cleanup at park sites.
  • 92 miles of riverfront on the Appomattox and James rivers
  • Management of over 1,700 acres in five conservation areas.
  • 15 historical sites with 240 acres are preserved
  • Promotion of Chesterfield’s Bikeways and Trails Plan implementation as a means of alternative transportation (reducing pollution and reliance on fuels). Maintain 42 miles of trails.
  • The design approach and input for all parks planning projects includes multidisciplinary teams that focus on cross-function and environmental outcomes (eg. engineers, landscape architects, operations and maintenance teams, building supervisors and recreation programmers).
  • Parks maintenance staff operate under a manual of Environmental Management SOPs that cover pesticide management, fueling, spill response, oil management, recycling of paint, aerosol can management, along with many others.
  • The park system has been the beneficiary of total or partial land donations at 28 sites representing 2,344 total acres. There are four sites acquired with grant funding and six sites with a combination of both land donation and grant funding, totaling 1,718 acres of parkland. In all, outside funding and resources have contributed to the development of almost half of the current park system.
  • Incorporation of sustainable practices in park design and construction projects:
    • Beulah Recreation Center - Retrofit solar power, replacement of ornamental plants with native plant species and demonstration gardens
    • Cogbill Park - Plans specify native plant materials for this park development
    • Park maintenance and redevelopment plan - Converts turf areas in identified parks to limited mowing to include diversified meadows and woodlands
    • Rockwood Park - Plans for enhanced apiary, pollinator gardens, and wildlife planting demonstration gardens
  • The department manages conservation easements held by the Department of Historic Resources and Capital Region Land Conservancy. A requirement of each easement is for the easement holder to monitor the land under protection. A link to the 2019 conservation easement monitoring report for each park follows.
  • Pocahontas State Park resides in central Chesterfield County. The park totals 7,919 acres with over 64 miles of trails and three lakes among many other amenities. Built in the 1930’s, the park conserves historical and natural resources while offering recreational opportunities to the public.
  • Cooperative Extension offers information and programs for residents to become better environmental stewards. Learn about how to increase sustainability through land care programs. Services also include the Plant Disease Clinic. Contact staff at [email protected] or 804-751-4401.
  • Department staff are working on a Sustainability Plan for Parks and Recreation with representatives from Cooperative Extension, General Services, Environmental Engineering, Community Enhancement, Utilities , Risk Management, Communications and Media, as well as Virginia Commonwealth University. The plan will address department needs for long-term environmental sustainability by analyzing current practices and proposing recommendations. In efforts to reach sustainable outcomes, the plan will work simultaneously with the Parks and Recreation environmental stewardship efforts and address conservation, environmental monitoring, health and wellness, and promoting sustainable practices to the community. A survey of citizens was completed in March 2022 to assess community interests, awareness, and identify sustainability goals, objectives, and opportunities.

Environmental Awards:

  • 2010 VRPS Best New Facility - Parks, Playgrounds, Blueways, Greenways and Trails: John J. Radcliffe Appomattox River Conservation Area Trail
  • 2016 VRPS Best New Renovation - Parks, Playgrounds, Blueways, Greenways and Trails: Dodd Park Trails Renovation
  • 2018 NACPRO Trails and Corridors Award: Dodd Park Trails Renovation
  • 2018 Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Small Project Award from the US Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement: Mid-Lothian Mines Park
  • 2019 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award Gold Medal: Dutch Gap Relic River Trail and Water Access
  • 2019 Virginia Treasures Designation from the Virginia Secretary for Natural Resources: James River Conservation Area
  • 2019 NACPRO Environmental/Conservation Award: James River Conservation Area
  • 2019 NACPRO Trails and Corridors Award: Relic River Boardwalk at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area

If you would like to assist in conservation or environmental protection efforts, please contact our department at 804-748-1623 or [email protected].

Cooperative Extension offers information and programs to enable residents of Chesterfield to become better environmental stewards.

Learn more about our programs and how you can increase your sustainability at home. Contact us year round for information or to acquire services from our Plant Disease Clinic at [email protected] or 804-751-4401.