What is a RiverRat?
The James River Association (JRA) and its James Riverkeepers® are recruiting the James River’s first line of citizen defense, the RiverRats. Whether walking a neighborhood stream, kayaking a local river, or boating the wide reaches of the lower James, JRA RiverRats document potential pollution sources and effects while also reporting natural patterns in river hydrology and wildlife sightings. RiverRats are also proactive in protecting their river by committing to action projects in their communities. By helping JRA keep watch over our waterways and inspiring their neighbors to choose clean water, RiverRats play a vital role in protecting and restoring America’s Founding River.
How do you become a RiverRat?
· Patrol and report on the chosen section at least three times a year. This involves at least 4 hours per patrol of hiking, paddling, or boating and making observations and careful notes.
· Complete one Action Project each year within one of the following categories: Policy, Enforcement, Education, Restoration, Reports, Membership, or Recreation.
· Attend the RiverRat Raft-Up each year. This is an annual meeting and cook-out where RiverRats can receive additional training.
What are RiverRat patrols?
You will provide an additional set of eyes and ears to JRA’s efforts to know and understand what is happening throughout our watershed. You can be a valuable presence and educator to members of the public that you meet on the river. Some of the areas you will report include:
· Who else is using the river, for what purposes, when and how?
· What are the weather conditions during your patrols?
· What color is the water?
· What is the state of streamside areas throughout your adopted segment?
· Do you see cattle or other livestock in the stream or evidence that they have free access to the stream?
· How do tributaries to the river contrast with the river itself?
· What wildlife do you see?
· Are there public access sites not shown in databases or are access sites difficult or dangerous to use?
You will be able to identify pollution and habitat issues on the river, take the necessary action, and report your findings with local and state regulators. Some things you may see and take action are:
· Spills or illegal discharges: unusual smells or colors, oil sheen on water, and suspicious activity.
· Sewage spills, sewer system leaks, or overflows: smell, floating waste, and sick or dead wildlife.
· Stormwater runoff: mud flowing from construction sites, trash, unusual smells/colors in water, and high flows causing erosion.
· Dumped waste, tires, litter, and construction debris: scattered debris and debris washed down during floods.
· Damage to wildlife from unknown sources: sick or dead wildlife.
· Habitat disturbance or improvements: dredging or clearing of shoreline, disturbance of wetlands, construction near shoreline, landowners that are replanting or stabilizing stream banks, and fencing livestock from streams.
What are RiverRat Action Projects?
Kevin Hansen Rrash Cleanup
· EDUCATION: Staff a booth, give presentations to local groups, volunteer for a JRA education field trip, or label storm drains.
· RESTORATION: Lead a trash cleanup, organize a buffer planting, install a rain garden, remove invasive species, or participate in fishing line recycling.
· REPORTS: Research and/or write reports for JRA.
· MEMBERSHIP: Recruit and educate the public about JRA and the RiverRats program.
· RECREATION: Help with JRA a hiking or canoe trip, or research and improve public access and boat-in campsites.
· POLICY: Organize a local effort to support JRA initiatives.
· ENFORCEMENT: Document a series of incidents and the outcomes and report to local enforcement.