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Photos: An Angry James

The James was running at about 19 feet above flood stage on Friday. Here are a few snapshots.

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Training not rescuing

Training not rescuing

Training not rescuing

Training not rescuing

Wetlands living up to its name

Wetlands living up to its name

Wetlands living up to its name

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Canadian and western wildfires bring hazardous smoke to Virginia

“It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality meteorologist Dan Salkovitz. “All the monitors that we’ve got in the state are elevated today.” 

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Massive wildfires near the Ontario-Minnesota border, as well as blazes farther west in Canada and the United States, are bringing smoke throughout Virginia, causing state officials to issue a health alert Wednesday morning due to high levels of particulate matter.

“It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality meteorologist Dan Salkovitz. “All the monitors that we’ve got in the state are elevated today.” 

State air quality monitors registered the highest levels of fine particulate matter in Winchester and the lowest in Hampton, although all of the reports were higher than normal. 

Particulate matter is a mixture of solid and liquid droplets in the air that can be inhaled. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to these particles can aggravate respiratory systems and heart function and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma. 

Much of the smoke seen in Virginia is coming from a plume generated by hundreds of fires in Ontario, said Salkovitz, although blazes along the West Coast are also contributing. While earlier this week the effects were mostly seen in hazy skies and brilliant sunsets, smoke began mixing with air closer to the earth’s surface today, driving down air quality. 

A cold front behind the plume is expected to bring clearer air, Salkovitz said, but “unfortunately that front is taking its sweet time to get here.” 

Smoke from the western and Canadian wildfires has caused problems throughout the East Coast this week, triggering officials in numerous states to issue health alerts. 

While wildfires are driven by a variety of factors, scientists have linked their increasing incidence and intensity in the West with climate change, which has been driving up temperatures and changing precipitation patterns.

Virginia residents can sign up to receive air quality alerts from DEQ here.

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Downtown

James River Park Trail Loop named one of America’s best running trails by Men’s Journal

Richmond’s trails were selected thanks to their top-notch views, rolling hills mixed in with a few steep climbs, creek and river crossings, and multiple access points and trailheads on either side of the river.

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The national health and fitness publication Men’s Journal recently published a list of the 15 best running trails in America, and the trails in Richmond’s James River Park System, including the North Bank and Buttermilk trails, were selected for the rankings, at number 11 overall.

Richmond’s trails were selected thanks to their top-notch views, rolling hills mixed in with a few steep climbs, creek and river crossings, and multiple access points and trailheads on either side of the river.

You can view the full list here.

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Downtown

‘James River Relief’ returns to give hospital workers healing on the water

The James River Association & Outfitter Partners are offering free paddle trips to hospital workers as part of the program.

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Last summer, as Covid-19 quarantined the country and social gatherings were brought to an abrupt halt, healthcare workers carried on through unprecedented challenges, battling a global pandemic and putting their lives on the line daily.

As a small gesture of thanks for the incredible service of our Virginia healthcare heroes, the James River Association (JRA) launched James River Relief in June 2020, a program providing free paddle trips to hospital workers in the James River watershed. Within 24 hours of the program launch, the first round of 100 paddle trips had been given away, signaling a great demand for healthcare staff to find much-needed respite by connecting with the river.

James River Relief is back for the 2021 river season, thanks to the generosity of donors who gave funds to support the program. The program will again provide more than 100 paddle trips & rental options to doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff through partnering with several regional outfitters.

“We were thrilled to give away more than 100 trips last summer to hospital workers in the James River watershed” said Bill Street, CEO for the James River Association. “We are excited to bring this program back, and grateful to partner with several outfitters in various locations on the James, to provide a break on the water offering solace, relaxation, and enjoyment on our beautiful river.”

Outfitter partners include RVA Paddlesports and Crosswind Paddle Company in Richmond, James River Reeling & Rafting in Scottsville, and Rivanna River Company in Charlottesville. The program will also provide trips through JRA’s outfitter, James River Adventures in Lynchburg, and through JRA’s Connect with the James programs in Greater Richmond and James City County.

“We had a wonderful time floating”, said Leora Brown, a healthcare worker at Sentara Careplex Hospital who took a trip through the program at James River Reeling & Rafting last summer. “It was a much-needed break from work and the quarantine life for my family! We look forward to doing this again!”

Hospital workers can sign up for a free paddle by filling out a form on JRA’s website. They are asked to provide their name, address, and the hospital where they work. After they sign up, they are emailed with further details, plus a code to book their trip or rental for free.

To learn more about James River Relief and to share this opportunity with hospital workers in the James River watershed, visit thejamesriver.org/james-river-relief.

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