Spring has sprung and as the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” Springtime brings longer days, warmer weather, and a wetter season. This is a great time of year to give your yard a revival and incorporate river-friendly practices such as installing native plants or adding a rain barrel to your property!

Stormwater runoff continues to be one of the greatest threats facing the James River. Every time it rains, fertilizers, herbicides, bacteria from pet waste, and chemicals flow from our properties into local waterways. This pollution adversely impacts the health of the James and can make it unsafe for wildlife.

Being a member of our River Hero Homes program is an easy way to make a difference and help protect the James River at home. Anyone living in the James River watershed can sign a simple online pledge to protect the James through everyday river-friendly actions like picking up after your pet or reducing the use of lawn fertilizer. 

If you have plants or trees in your yard, you are already making a difference for the James and our environment. Plants and trees remove carbon dioxide, absorb stormwater, and help reduce the urban heat island effect. But you can do more for a more sustainable future!

River Hero Homes is a community of stewards that realize the first step to a cleaner James River starts in their own backyard. To become a River Hero Home we request that you pledge at least three of these actions:

  • Pick up after your dog
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides/pesticides
  • Avoid invasive species and use native plants to support wildlife and reduce watering needs
  • Use alternatives to municipal drinking water for irrigation
  • Reduce need for fertilizer by encouraging healthy soil with mulch and compost

While these actions individually may seem small, when adopted on a wide scale, they have a significant impact on local water quality. Just think, if everyone in your neighborhood picked up their dog’s poop daily, just how much poop that would be! Just a single gram of dog poop contains an estimated 23 million bacteria!

River Hero Home Resources

Studies have traced 20 to 30 percent of the bacteria in water samples from urban watersheds to dog waste. Just two to three days of waste from 100 dogs can contribute enough bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorous to close 20 miles of a bay-watershed to swimming and shellfishing, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

-- The Poop Problem: What To Do With 10 Million Tons of Dog Waste

And – in addition to helping to keep James healthy, every River Hero Home receives a garden flag to display, River Hero Home sticker, membership card, a free year Family Membership to the James River Association, discounts at local nurseries, and the satisfaction of knowing you are doing what you can to protect Virginia’s waterways.

Please allow 4-6 weeks for our welcome package to reach your door! In the meantime, ‘like’ us on Facebook and ‘follow’ us on Twitter or Instagram to receive tips, tricks and info on how you can make a difference!

Become a hero today and take steps to improve your home for your community and your river.