2021 marks the 45th anniversary of the James River Association!

To commemorate this anniversary we are revisiting our ‘Top 40’ lists we shared back in 2016. This month, we have surveyed our staff and updated our list to bring you 45 things you can do to protect the James. 

As you can see from the list below, there are lots of ways to give back to your river, and we urge you to take one action this week. When we all work together, our collective efforts can make a huge impact in restoring the health of the James!


  1. Be a voice for the James. Take action.
  2. Introduce a friend or family member to the river.
  3. Vote for a healthy James River by supporting candidates who advocate for clean water funding
  4. Volunteer with the James River Association.
  5. Protect your property in a conservation easement.
  6. When hiking, stay off steep wet trails, which can lead to erosion issues.
  7. Pick up trash before it washes into the river.
  8. Scoop the poop.
  9. Find out your “watershed address” so you know what effect your activities have on your immediate environment.
  10. Conserve water, the less you use, the less is wasted in runoff.
  11. Remove invasive plant species from your yard. 
  12. Plant native species in your garden.
  13. Install a rain garden.
  14. Plant a tree.
  15. Become a member of the James River Association.
  16. Install a rain barrel to reduce stormwater runoff.
  17. Take a kid fishing. Teach them to be a good river steward.
  18. Research the Clean Water Act.
  19. Properly dispose of your fishing line.
  20. Redirect your downspout to a pervious surface.
  21. Become a RiverRat.
  22. Water your lawn or garden slow and deep. Time your watering and water only in the morning or late afternoon.
  23. Research different types of pollution like sediment, nitrogen and phosphorus.
  24. Use the James River Watch to “know before you go”: stay informed about bacteria levels, water levels, water temperature, and more.
  25. Shop for the James. Buy products that support the James River Association’s efforts to restore the river.
  26. Reuse materials when able. Recycle those things you can’t reuse.
  27. Avoid using products with microbeads.
  28. Support sustainable businesses throughout our region.
  29. Compost garden and kitchen waste and use compost on your lawn and garden.
  30. Become a water quality monitor.
  31. Plant a vegetated area between your yard and the street to reduce stormwater runoff.
  32. When you visit the river, bring a trash bag and leave the area cleaner than when you found it.
  33. If you smoke, properly dispose of your cigarette butts.
  34. Become a River Hero Home to show your pride in preventing pollution at home.
  35. If you use a lawn maintenance company, make sure they are environmentally friendly.
  36. Contact your legislators and tell them to make protecting the river a priority.
  37. Buy local oysters and properly recycle the shells.
  38. Practice smart boat ownership. Use only marine approved cleaning products and be careful when filling gas and oil tanks – no spills in the water or on dock.
  39. If you see a problem on the river, contact your Riverkeeper.
  40. Attend a river-related event to learn more about your river.
  41. Research the State of the James.
  42. If you have a septic system, make sure it is properly maintained.
  43. Remember only rain down the drain! Keep storm drains and drainage ditches clear of oil, litter, leaves etc.
  44. Reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides and pesticides. Alternatively, use organic or natural methods.
  45. Use reusable shopping bags.