Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Free Trees for Richmond City Residents

Do you live in the City of Richmond?  Are you interested in planting trees in your yard and becoming a River Hero Home?  If you answered yes to both of these questions JRA wants to give you free trees! 

During the fall planting season, JRA is offering free trees to Richmond City residents. You can receive up to a $200 reimbursement per home for trees planted on your property.

Trees are an important feature for any property because they reduce stormwater runoff and provide aesthetic value. Tree canopies capture and store rainfall and reduce soil erosion. They take up a large amount of water from the soil and provide important habitat for wildlife. Their shade can also help homeowners reduce the cost of cooling their home.

This tree incentive program is only open to City of Richmond residents and reimbursements are available September through November 2014. You must be an existing River Hero Home or submit an application to become a new River Hero Home to qualify.

River Hero Homes is JRA’s certification program that recognizes homeowners who are successfully taking steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater and pollution leaving their property. To become certified, JRA requires homeowners to install a river-friendly practice, such as planting trees or installing a rain barrel, as well as following some simple everyday actions to reduce pollution. These actions, which include picking up after your pet or planting native plants, may seem small, but when adopted on a wide scale, can have a significant impact on local water quality.

Tree reimbursements are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be available until funding runs out. For more information about this program, and to find out if your property qualifies, go to  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Top 5 Overnight Paddles on the James River

by Amber Ellis, JRA's Watershed Restoration Associate/Volunteer Coordinator

Summer time is upon us and what better way to enjoy the long days then to go for an overnight weekend paddle trip! Below are a few that our JRA RiverRats and staff have recommended as their top picks. They are listed in order from the headwaters to the middle James.

Please remember to stay safe on the river, and check river level conditions before you head out:

1.     Iron Gate to Eagle Rock: This is a 14 mile trip that starts at the Iron Gate boat launch below Route 220, just a mile below the confluence of the Jackson and Cowpasture River (aka the start of the James River!).  It’s a beautiful stretch that is surrounded by mountains, rocky bluffs, and contains Class I and II rapids. The first stretch from Iron Gate to Gala is 10 miles and camping is available at Gala River Front Campground. Day 2 is a 4 mile stretch, which has several of Class I rapids. The take out is at the DGIF Craig Creek access at Eagle Rock. To see pictures Click Here.

2.     Glen Maury Park to Snowden:  This roughly 15 mile trip starts in Buena Vista at Glen Maury Park. The put in is at the park on river right across the 10th St bridge. The paddle begins on the Maury River and ends on the James, winding through lush green mountains. It is for the more experienced paddler and goes through Class I, II, and III rapids including Balcony Falls. The camping area is just before Balcony Falls on river right and is on property owned by the National Forest Service. Many folks consider this the best camping spot on the James! Get a good rest and go through Balcony Falls on day 2. Take out is at Snowden on river left right after these Class III rapids.

3.     Bent Creek to Wingina:  This 14.5 mile trip is great for all levels of paddlers as it passes through easy Class I and II rapids. This section is filled with islands and you will see quite a bit of tubers as well. The put in is at Bent Creek at the Route 60 bridge with camping 7 miles downriver at James River State Park on river right. On day 2 head out and go another 7 miles to the take out at Wingina at the Route 56 bridge. Click here for a more detailed description.

4.     Howardsville to Bremo Bluff: This is a 25 mile stretch that could be broken into a smaller trip such as or Howardsville to Scottsville or Scottsville to Bremo, or any other combination. This stretch contains some Class I and II rapids. You can camp on either side of the river in Scottsville and enjoy a night walking through town. This is a favorite stretch by several of JRA’s RiverRats.  A local outfitter out of Scottsville, James River Reeling and Rafting, offers trips if this is your first overnight or if you don’t own a boat. Click Here for a more detailed description of the trip.

5.     Cartersville to Maidens: This is about a 17 mile stretch with the put in at the Cartersville boat landing. It’s a very easy stretch with flatwater and the characteristic rolling hills of the piedmont region. There are a few Class I riffles, but is a great option for beginners or fisherman. Camping is at Powhatan State Park at their new canoe-in campground.

If you are looking at some other options or more information, visit the links below.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Students represent the James through Eco Art

Every year Megan Wright, an art teacher at St. Bridget’s School, puts on an art show to showcase her students’ work. This year’s theme was EcoArt and focused on the flora and fauna of the Richmond region. Projects included watercolors of birds native to Virginia and a forest made out of recycled paper. First graders at the school were tasked with creating Atlantic sturgeon using paints and pastels to swim through a representation of the James River.

Before the first graders could create their sturgeon, they needed to learn about these ancient giants. They watched JRA’s new documentary The Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon, and marveled at the size of these fish, learning about their prehistoric existence and their triumph as the “fish that saved Jamestown.” Most importantly, students learned that by keeping the James River clean, they can help protect the environment and bring back more sturgeon to Virginia. 

Even though weeks have passed since
their EcoArt showcase, Ms. Wright reports that her students are still fascinated by Atlantic sturgeon. They have taken it upon themselves to educate their families about this miraculous fish and about how they can help the James River. 

Education is at the heart of JRA’s mission and we couldn’t be more excited to learn about a new group of future river guardians!

To learn more about St. Bridget’s School’s EcoArt project, visit

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

JRA Brings River-Friendly Landscaping to Habitat for Humanity Project

Over the past several months, JRA has worked with the Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity (RMHFH) to provide river-friendly landscaping to The Pillars at Oakmont in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood. This mixed-income community was completed last spring by RMHFH along North 33rd Street between T and Kuhn Streets.

In February, JRA’s Watershed Restoration Team met with nine homeowners from the community to teach them how using native plants in landscaping creates a river-friendly yard that helps protect water quality. We worked with the homeowners to design landscapes for their yard that would not only meet the needs of their families, but also help the James River. 
GE volunteers gather before getting to work!
On Friday, May 9, an unusually hot Spring day, JRA was joined by representatives for RMHFH and 50 volunteers from GE for a work day at the Pillars to put the landscape plans into place Several local companies, including Yardworks, Luck Stone, Pete Rose Landscape Products, Glen Allen Nursery and New Line Hardscapes, provided assistance and/or in-kind donations for this project. Several members from the Central Virginia Landscape and Nursery Association (CVLNA) volunteered and taught volunteers the proper way to install plants. Members of the Old Dominion Chapter of the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) came to lead volunteers in the installation of the patios.  

Mulching around our native Blueberry shrub!

Big thanks go to members Brad Swortzel from BWS Landscaping and Mike Hart from Homescapes Ltd for leading the patio install.

Teams of homeowners and GE volunteers worked together on the backyards to complete various landscaping tasks, such as installing paver patios, prepping garden beds and planting native trees and shrubs. Native plants are an important aspect of river-friendly landscaping because they are adapted to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions. These traits allow them to grow with minimal use of water and fertilizer and help reduce stormwater runoff from your property.
Proud homeowners enjoying their new native landscape!
All nine homes at the Pillars at Oakmont will become certified River Hero Homes, which is a way to recognize these homeowners for successfully taking steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater and pollution leaving their property. Anyone living in the James River watershed can become a certified River Hero Home. It is a simple way you can help protect the James River.
One of nine new native gardens at The Pillars

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thanks for coming to the James RiverFest

The James RiverFest is an eco-friendly artisan festival held at Eco Discovery Park in Williamsburg every April.

We would like to thank all of the vendors and participants that supported the festival this past weekend. The weather was beautiful and it was a great opportunity to meet lots of new friends. 

There were many different activities going on during the event.  JRA offered a trash cleanup opportunity on Longhill Road, which resulted in 9 bags of trash being removed from the area! Jamestown Discovery Boat Tours and Chesapeake Experience both offered free opportunities to get out on the water, and there were several area non-profits in attendance with great kid's activities. There was also live music from In Layman Terms, The UnXpected, and FRIENDS.

Thanks to our partner, Eco Discovery Park for hosting our event, as well as TowneBank for serving as Presenting Sponsor. Thanks also to Williamsburg Event Rentals, Middle Peninsula, Martin's and WY Daily who is the only daily newspaper in the Historic Triangle, Williamsburg Yorktown. They provide the latest local news to your inbox, every morning, for free! 

Our Business Council members, Dominion Due Dilligence, Smithfield, Stamie E. Lyttle Co, Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Estes and Hardywood are also an integral part of all of our events. We would not have been able to have this event without support from our sponsors. 

Check out event photos on our Facebook page, and we hope you will be able to join us next year!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

RiverRat Spotlight - John Mays

RiverRat John Mays manages to combines business with pleasure! As the owner of Twin River Outfitters, a paddlesport rental business on the Upper James, he is out on the river all the time!

John says he became a RiverRat “to help develop the river access points on the Upper James and to ensure that it is as clean and trash free as possible.” John knows that a clean river is both good for business and the environment. 

“I routinely patrol the section of the Upper James from Buchanan to Arcadia.  It’s a 6 mile section of water downstream of our store.  It has fun rapids, is very remote, and awesome Blueridge Mountain views.” Along the way he picks up litter. He says the best thing about being a RIverRats is getting to know other dedicated river folks.

To help more people get out on the river, Twin River Outfitters offers JRA members 10% off any rental, river trip or shuttle service (excluding retail merchandise.) If you’re in Buchanan Stop by and visit John and Twin River Outfitters at 653 Lowe Street or online

Friday, April 25, 2014

Join us at the James RiverFest

JRA is looking forward to an exciting weekend! This Saturday, April 26, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. is the third annual James RiverFest at Eco Discovery Park. The festival will include water activities, a cleanup, fun and educational activities for children, food, live music, and a wide variety of  vendors and environmental booths. 

What’s going on during the event:

  • We will be holding a trash cleanup from 9- 11 a.m. The cleanup will take place on Longhill road in between Lafayette High School and Warhill Indoor Sports Complex. For more information, and to register yourself or group contact Christiana Tambone at (757) 707-7580 or
  • Chesapeake Experience – will provide free opportunities for paddling on the water. They will be holding two paddling sessions, 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. You must register at their booth during the event to participate.
  • Jamestown Discovery Boat Tours - Jamestown Discovery Boat Tours will be offering free boat tours leaving the dock every hour starting at 10:30 a.m.
  • Live Music - Layman Terms, The UnXpected, and FRIENDS will perform from noon to 3:00.
  • Eco Discovery Park – Eco Discovery Park will have the Demonstration Garden and Bird Food Depot exhibits open for touring. The marina store will be open with bike and kayak rentals available. Do you geocache? Find our three geocache to earn the EDP path tag.
  • JRA Kid’s Tent - JRA will have a tent to highlight our important work to protect the James River. Stop by our tent for fun and educational children’s activities. 

Representatives from these other local groups will be at the James RiverFest:
  • Friends of Powhatan Creek Watershed
  • Historic Rivers Chapter, VA Master Naturalists
  • James City County Parks and Rec
  • Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
  • James City County Stormwater Division
  • National Science Teachers Association, College of William and Mary Student Chapter
  • Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Association
  • US Coast Guard Flotilla 67
  • Virginia Capital Trail Foundation 
  • Williamsburg Bicyclists Area
  • Williamsburg Land Conservancy

Stop by these booths to get handmade or environmentally friendly products:
  • Day Three Bath & Body
  • Dementi Books & Photography
  • G.A.B.B.
  • Glamorous Jewels, Designs by Emma
  • Jan's Hands
  • Julia's Crafts
  • Mr. Rogers Windows
  • N 2 Wood
  • Native Creations
  • Pine Wind Music
  • Psychic Studio
  • Richard Derrow
  • Solartyme/Eshield of VA
  • Wear Waliga

Admission to the festival is free. The purpose of the event is to showcase the James River for the community, build awareness and support for JRA and increase environmental stewardship in the Williamsburg community. For more information and directions visit