American Shad Recovery Plan

American shad was once one of the largest commercial fisheries along the Atlantic coast. The 2023 American shad stock assessment by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science found that populations of American shad in the James are at an all-time low. Learn what the James River Association is doing to assist the American Shad Recovery Plan.

More than one-third of all Virginians rely on the James River and its tributaries for water, commerce, and recreation. Our vision is a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities.  We believe if you change the James, the James will change you.


You can hike it, bike it, swim it, run it or raft it. How you enjoy the James River is up to you.


We’ve taken the river from a D- to a B- in terms of overall health – but we need help to reach our goal of a Grade A James.


Whatever your interests are, there is a role for you in improving the health of the James River.


The James is Virginia’s largest tributary to the Chesapeake Bay, at 340 miles long it is one of the longest rivers in America that begins and ends in the same state.

Enjoy River Stories from across the Watershed

Stories have a power unlike any other to spotlight how our experiences shape who we are, how we relate to one another, and how something – like a river – can connect us in profound ways, both as individuals and as communities. Dive in here.

While our stories may be different, the river that runs through them is a common thread that unites us all. It is our river to share. It is also our river to protect.

Stories by the James is a collection of stories from people across our watershed that show how our river connects and unites us as individuals and communities. Our goal is to feature a number of diverse voices and backgrounds to best represent the many people and communities in our watershed, and we would love to add your story to our collection!

JRA is thrilled to partner with VPM News to bring Stories by the James to the public. Click here to listen to exclusive cuts of storyteller interviews that originally aired in the fall of 2022.

Our sincere thanks to The Tomato Fund and VPM for the opportunity.

James Changing Actions since Earth Day 2019

Your actions make a difference

It has taken over four decades to take the river from one of the nation’s most polluted rivers to one of its most improved.

When you become a James Changer, you are joining a network of passionate and supportive river lovers across the Watershed, from the Alleghany Highlands to the Chesapeake Bay.

We encourage you to seek out your personal passion to help us change the James – and our communities – for the better.

RiverRat Program

We are recruiting the James River’s first line of citizen defense, the RiverRats, who play a vital role in protecting and restoring the James.

Riparian Stewards

Volunteer are needed to nurture & monitor select riparian forest buffers we have installed through our programs.

James River Buffers

Your property may qualify for a buffer planting. 100% of project costs are covered for qualifying landowners.

Living Shorelines

We can help eligible homeowners in the tidal watershed install living shorelines.

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News & Notes

2024 Middle James River Expedition

Stay tuned for updates on the Middle James River Expedition, part of session 1 of the James River Leadership Expeditions program! 11 intrepid students, 3 JRA educators, and 1 teacher will journey ~50 miles down the James on canoes and experience the river between July...

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Press Releases & Statements

Press Release: Partnership makes waves with innovative approach

PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 26, 2024 MEDIA CONTACT:Jamie Brunkow, Director of River EcologyJames River  | 804.592.0347 Partnership makes waves with innovative approach to stopping shoreline erosion Nature-based living...

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Events & Volunteer Opportunities