Our Mission and Values
The Lafayette Wetlands Partnership is a citizen-based initiative that mentors groups and individuals that want to restore wetland habitat along the Lafayette River.
We nurture partnerships among citizens, municipal, scientific and non-profit groups to get restoration work done. When the work is done, we insist upon a commitment to the long-term stewardship of those restored wetlands.
Our credo is “no one stands alone” – we will do whatever is needed to help people realize their dreams, including getting in the mud to clean up debris, install plants and grasses, or control invasive species.
What We Do
Citizens or groups interested in starting a wetlands restoration effort can contact us to request support in any number of ways. Each project is unique and has special challenges and needs. The range of our support is described under What We Can Do For You.
In addition, we have several special initiatives:
We sponsor the Eyes on the River initiative, the installation of measurement sites around the Lafayette River watershed, encouraging citizen participation in photographic documentation of these sites over time.
We have a special initiative to develop, install, evaluate and monitor modestly sized oyster reef structures called “Oyster Bergs.” These small structures are designed for home-owner use.
We conduct an annual BioBlitz event, which is a one-day summertime event conducted to observe, catalog and learn about the flora and fauna existing at our various restoration sites.
To organize our work, we have formed Teams in the following areas:
The Partnership was first formed in 2007 through the passion and vision of John Stewart, an ardent environmentalist and retired librarian living in Colonial Place. In just a short time, John created a group of similarly concerned environmental advocates who started tackling the restoration of badly degraded shorelines along Knitting Mill Creek.
The first projects undertaken were located along northern Colley Avenue, at the east ends of 46th St and 47th St, restored shoreline along Colley Bay, and the west end of 51st St. These projects, now relatively mature, can be easily viewed and enjoyed today.
As time passed, the LWP membership now includes a wide diversity of groups and partners, each bringing unique expertise, and the Partnership has taken on sponsoring larger, more complex projects.
LWP participants now include Norfolk city staff (Public Works), local environmental groups (Elizabeth River Project and The Hermitage Museum & Gardens), professors and scientists with Old Dominion University, members of the Norfolk Master Gardeners and Tidewater Master Naturalists, Keep Norfolk Beautiful, and Friends of Norfolk’s Environment.
Our largest project to date was recently initiated in partnership with the City of Norfolk. This project, the Knitting Mill Creek Natural Pathway, involved the recreation of a native plant buffer zone and pedestrian walkway along 300 feet of shoreline along Mayflower Rd on the east side of Knitting Mill Creek, in the Colonial Place neighborhood.
How We Operate
The Lafayette Wetlands Partnership does not “do” projects; we help others be successful by marshalling the resources they need to achieve their dreams.
The Partnership a porous entity – less an “it” than a way of being in the world, open to all, never asking more from any one individual than that individual is willing to give.
LWP is an informal organization, without by-laws or officers. We collaborate with the Friends of Norfolk’s Environment (a 501.c.3 entity) for fiscal management of any funds received for a specific project we are sponsoring.
Partnership regular participants meet once a month (3rd Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. at the Ernie Morgan Center) to discuss progress on current projects and planning for special initiatives.
These meetings are open to public and interested persons are most welcome to attend.
We value our many long term partners that have supported us in our wetlands restoration and stewardship efforts:
- Friends of Norfolk’s Environment
- Elizabeth River Project
- Norfolk Master Gardeners
- City of Norfolk
- The Hermitage Museum
- Chesapeake Bay Foundation
- ODU – Phytoplankton Laboratory, College of Sciences, Chesapeake Bay Program
Projects led by Partnership volunteers have been recognized in the media news:
“Park cleanup of invasive grasses reveals waterway,” by Mary Reid Barrow, Aug 13, 2016, Virginian-Pilot
“Marsh of Progress,” by Toni Gaugenti, May 7, 2014, Home
“Knitting Together a Love of Nature,” by Rebecca Burcher Jones, May 31, 2009, Virginian-Pilot
“Lafayette Wetlands,” Norfolk Quarterly Magazine, Spring 2009
The Partnership has been honored to receive awards:
Virginia Military Institute’s 2021 Erchul Award Grant of $1500 courtesy of Skip Stiles, Executive Director of Wetlands Watch, Inc.
Norfolk Tree Commission 2020 “Leadership of the Year”
Volunteer Hampton Roads 2018
“Outstanding Community Service”
Elizabeth River Project 2013-2020
Eight Years at “Sustained Distinguished Performance”
Norfolk Tree Commission 2017
“Project of the Year: Midfields Wetlands Walk”
Norfolk Tree Commission 2016
“Project of the Year: Riverpoint Playground Wetlands Restoration Project”