Community Conservation

Connecting People to the James

Quality of life and economic benefits are derived from outdoor recreation and business activity on the James River and its tributaries. The James River Association’s Community Conservation Program helps communities throughout the James River watershed realize the benefits of a healthy James River and promotes conservation and responsible stewardship of our natural resources. We connect people to the James and its tributaries through advocacy and a variety of programs and projects.

Breaking Down Barriers to Enjoying the James

Our approach to breaking down barriers to enjoying the James River and its tributaries is threefold. From the Alleghany Highlands to the the Chesapeake Bay, we work with local governments and partners to expand public access to the James River and its tributaries, offer outdoor recreation experiences through our Connect with the James programs, and create informational resources such as maps for individuals to use.

Community Conservation

   Regional Rivers Plan

The Regional Rivers Plan fulfills the James River Regional Plan strategy, one of four strategies adopted by the Capital Region Collaborative to make the James River a centerpiece for entertainment, recreation, and commerce in the Richmond region. The plan was created to guide the expansion of the Richmond region’s network of public access sites. Recommendations for new public access sites, tourism, and economic development are features of the plan.

Visit to learn about the Regional Rivers Plan and Capital Region Collaborative.


The vision of the Regional Rivers Plan is threefold, comprised of visions for recreation, tourism, and economic development.

Vision for Recreation

The Richmond Region has a cohesive network of publicly accessible riverside parks, conservation areas, historic sites, canoe and kayak launches and boat landings accommodating a variety of active and passive recreational activities and linked by greenways, blueways, and trails.

Vision for Economic Development

Businesses benefit from events and recreation on the rivers of the region, which serve as sources of freshwater and support commerce and industries.

Vision for Tourism

The rivers of the Richmond Region are destinations for their diversity of outdoor events and festivals, recreational opportunities, rich history, and thriving riverfronts featuring dynamic public spaces and a variety of commercial attractions balanced by conservation easements, wildlife refuges, and protected lands.

The creation of the Regional Rivers Plan would not have been possible without the generous support of Altria, WestRock Foundation, Custis Westham Fund of The Community Foundation, and The Cameron Foundation.

    Richmond Riverfront Plan

We continue to work with the City of Richmond and partners to ensure implementation of the Richmond Riverfront Plan, the vision document for Richmond’s riverfront. Progress was observed on Richmond’s riverfront in 2015, as construction of the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge commenced, the Lehigh Cement silos were demolished creating a new 1.5 acre public riverfront space, and the Virginia Capital Trail opened. The Potterfield Memorial Bridge opened in 2016 and plans for Richmond’s East Riverfront were adopted by City Council in 2017.

Did you know?

Richmond was recognized as the “Best River Town Ever” by Outside Magazine in 2012. Richmond’s riverfront and James River Park System, the most-visited attraction in the Richmond region, accommodate numerous outdoor recreation activities, events, and festivals throughout the year.
Richmond Riverfront Plan

   Upper James River Water Trail

Richmond Riverfront Plan
The James River Association is working in partnership with Botetourt County, Rockbridge County, Town of Buchanan, Town of Glasgow, Twin River Outfitters, Wilderness Canoe Co., Chesapeake Conservancy, and other partners to promote and expand the Upper James River Water Trail from Alpine to Snowden. The Upper James River Water Trail website and brochure were updated thanks to support from the Virginia Tourism Corporation in 2017 and complement recent physical improvements along the trail. Visit the Upper James River Water Trail website to learn about the trail and plan an adventure.

Did you know?

In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 1196 and House Bill 1454, which extended Scenic River designation on the Upper James River from 14 miles to 59 miles. This Scenic River designation is made possible by the Virginia Scenic Rivers Program, which began in 1970 when the Virginia General Assembly passed the Virginia State Scenic River Act.

Connect Virginians to their river.

Volunteers help by leading our interpretive paddle programs, assisting with outreach at events, constructing boat launches and exploring local waterways to assess river access.

Justin Doyle

Justin Doyle

Director of Community Conservation
Phone: (804) 572-4667