Watershed Restoration

Working for a healthy river

Our Watershed Restoration program uses stormwater solutions, habitat restoration, engagement and education of our communities, and partnership with localities, other organizations, and landowners to improve the health of the James River and help citizens realize the benefits of a healthy James River.


Did you know?

Pollution from stormwater runoff is the #1 health threat to our waterways. Every time it rains, pollution washes off your property and starts its journey through the watershed to the James River.

How much nitrogen and phosphorus pollution does your home contribute to the James River? Consider becoming a River Hero Home and reducing your runoff.

Get your hands dirty!

We love our volunteers! Your hard work and dedication to the James River Association help us reach our mission to promote conservation and responsible stewardship of the James River. We couldn’t do the work we do without people like you!

 Program Focus

River Hero Homes is a way to recognize homeowners who are successfully taking steps to improve water quality by reducing the amount of stormwater and pollution leaving their property. Becoming a River Hero Home is a simple way to help protect the James River.

Depending on where you live, becoming a certified River Hero Home may also help you qualify for stormwater rebates or credits offered by your locality.

For more information visit www.jamesriverhero.org

Stormwater and Green InfrastructureThe James River Association’s Watershed Restoration program works with localities and neighborhoods to incorporate green infrastructure into the landscape to manage stormwater, conserve and restore ecosystems, and improve quality of life for residents. This includes:

  • Tree planting
  • Rain Gardens
  • Habitat Gardens
  • Walkable Watershed projects in the James River watershed

Invasive Plant SpeciesThe James River Association works with volunteers and landowners to identify common invasive plant species, teach proper removal techniques, and lead invasive plant species removal days, particularly in riparian areas along the James and its tributaries.

Non-native plants are species that have been intentionally or accidentally introduced to an area they would not be naturally found in. While many non-native species are important agricultural plants that are maintained through careful cultivation, some non-native species like English Ivy, escape cultivation and become invasive. Invasive species pose serious threats to native species and can dramatically alter natural ecosystems. Once established, they can be very difficult to remove. They are commonly found throughout our parks, natural areas, as well as in our own backyards. The James River Association is a partner in the James River Park System Invasive Plant Task Force in Richmond.

Riparian BuffersWe partner with volunteers and landowners to restore and enhance riparian buffers along the James River and its tributaries.

Plantings along the banks of waterways (riparian buffers) are important for many reasons. They filter runoff that could include sediment and excess nutrients that flow off the land. Buffers that are diverse in native plant species also provide wildlife habitat along the river corridor. They also reduce erosion by holding the soil along the banks in place.

The James River Association and the Virginia Department of Forestry are working with landowners across the middle James watershed to restore or create forest buffers that improve the quality of local waterways.

Visit www.JamesRiverBuffers.org to learn more about this program, and to see if you qualify. 

2019 River Hero Home Month

We are inviting you to join us in celebrating River Hero Home month!  Stormwater runoff continues to be one of the largest threats facing the James River. Every time it rains, fertilizers, herbicides, bacteria from pet waste, and chemicals flow from our properties...

From the Marsh: Native Plants

Marshes, like most other habitats, are best described by the plants that live in them. Differing conditions, such as the fluctuation of salinity and temperature, can allow for varied species to colonize areas. The marshes of Hampton Roads are home to many unique...

Natural Forest Succession

by Sarah Hagan, Virginia Department of Forestry When you picture a riparian forest buffer what pops into your head? Neatly mowed rows of trees protected by Tubex tree tubes? We’ve been planting those types of forest buffers for so long it’s hard to conceptualize...

From the Marsh: Eastern Oysters

Welcome back to the marsh! At this time of the year, the heat from the summer is beginning to fade and the vast expanse of Spartina (also called Cordgrasses) turns from vibrant green to a more subdued gold. Gulls and terns begin their southward migration, while...

August Volunteer Opportunity Updates

Volunteers play a huge role in helping the James River Association achieve its mission. Much of our work would not be possible without the knowledge and dedication of our volunteers. Whether it’s getting your hands dirty with one of our Watershed...

Meet the Watershed Restoration Staff

Amber Ellis

Amber Ellis

Senior Watershed Restoration Manager
Phone: (804) 788-8811 ext.205
Email:  aellis@jrava.org

Ryan Walsh

Ryan Walsh

Lower James Restoration Coordinator
Phone: (757) 856-1252

Anne Marie Roberts

Anne Marie Roberts

Middle James Restoration Manager
Phone: (434) 286-7000
Email: amroberts@jrava.org