When we think about the James River, we tend to focus on our little stretch that flows through the James River Park System. But that neglects much of what is a mighty river system.

The James flows for over 340 miles, and is one of the few in America that only flows through one state. When you look at where its waters come from, you’re looking at almost 10,500 acres of watershed. It’s fed by over 15,000 miles of creeks and streams.

What we see in Richmond is greatly impacted by what happens upstream from us, and particularly along those creeks and streams that nourish the James. Fertilizers, pesticides, and agricultural runoff mix with litter and debris to contaminate and pollute lower portions of the James River.

One of the best natural measures against this runoff is called “Riparian Forested Buffer.” These are the trees, shrubs, grasses, and weeds that grow up along creeks, streams, and riverbeds. They provide a sort of natural filter to keep those things out of our waters.

The Governor of Virginia just made it super-easy to help create these Buffers – for free!

On July 12, he announced the James River Buffer Program. It’s part of a $15 million initiative to improve the water quality in and around the James River. There are over a dozen counties that fall within the James River Watershed and qualify, and you really only need three things:

  • A desire to improve water quality.
  • An area along a waterway where you can create a buffer.
  • A willingness to keep that buffer for 15 years.

In return, the James River Association and the Virginia Department of Forestry will help you with site design, materials, and installation. They’ll even check back in from time to time to see how your buffer is getting along.

Read more about the James River Buffer Program here.