41 years ago a toxic insecticide leaked into the James, making it one of the most polluted rivers in America. The following year JRA was founded. Since that time, we have helped to drive a movement that has resulted in steady improvements to the health of the river. Evidence of this is that for the first time in decades, and since the JRA first published its biennial State of the James Report, the river’s health has improved to a B- and the James is on track to meet its 2017 goals as part of the Chesapeake Bay cleanup plan. Each year we assess our progress and adapt our work plans to ensure that we are working on projects where progress is needed the most. For example, in November 2014 JRA embarked on a campaign to address the issues surrounding toxic chemical transport and storage in the watershed as a result of 3 recent incidents involving toxic chemical pollution in rivers including a train derailment that occurred along the James resulting in crude oil emptying directly into the river.
The James River Association (JRA) was founded in 1976 by a group of citizens who were concerned about the health and future of the James River. Today, JRA is a member-supported 501(c)(3)nonprofit organization whose mission is to be the guardian of the James River. It is the only organization in Virginia working solely to protect and enhance the James River and the 15,000 miles of tributaries that flow throughout its 10,000 square mile watershed. JRA addresses water quality issues throughout the watershed by partnering with corporations, local governments, farmers, landowners, individuals and state and national agencies. Through these partnerships JRA identifies root causes of pollution in the watershed and implements solutions to reduce or eliminate their negative impacts. JRA provides educational and volunteer opportunities to engage citizens of all ages to restore and protect America’s Founding River.
My vision for JRA is to be an active & respected member of each community along the James River advancing initiatives that protect the river as well as address other community needs. For most of JRA’s 40 year history, the organization focused solely on improving the health of the James River primarily by controlling and reducing sources of pollution. After accomplishing significant improvement in the river’s health, JRA recognized the need to ensure that communities along the river value the river & have a stake in its future. Therefore, JRA added a new strategic goal of helping communities benefit from a healthy river. Fo JRA to be successful, we must understand the breadth of needs and find not only the community’s interest in the river, but also where our work can help address additional needs. To this end, we have increased our work recently to help communities derive benefits from the James River as a complement to our efforts to protect & restore the health of the river. We must help every part of every community place a high value the James River as a community asset, derive significant economic and social benefits from the river, and recognize their own need to ensure a healthy future for the river.
William H. Street joined JRA as Executive Director in 2005. He is responsible for overseeing all of JRA’s core programs which promote conservation and responsible stewardship of the James. Prior to joining JRA, he worked for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) for ten years where he served in multiple capacities, most recently as the Director of Watershed Restoration. At CBF, he was responsible for managing and coordinating all of the watershed restoration works, including on-the-ground wetland and riparian restoration projects, agricultural practices and volunteer restoration programs. Bill has led state and regional policy initiatives related to water quality, watershed restoration, agriculture and land protection, He received his Masters of Environmental Management with a concentration in wetland ecology from Duke University,a Masters of Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science in Commerce from the University of Virginia. Bill Street is the2010 recipient of the Gerald P. McCarthy Award for Leadership in Environmental Conflict Resolution, awarded by the University of Virginia’s Institute for Environmental Negotiation.
JRA’s Education programs connect youth with river-based learning experiences that inspire confidence, ecological understanding , nature appreciation, and conservation action. We accomplish this through interdisciplinary learning experiences that are correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning and are field-based, using the context of the James River to bring complex concepts to life.
A James River Riverkeeper is the eyes and ears of JRA, keeping it and the public abreast of situations on the river. The Upper James Riverkeeper and Lower James Riverkeeper are on the river several days per week and work with the public, including boaters, fishermen, farmers and landowners, to promote awareness of issues and good stewardship for a cleaner, healthier river. The Riverkeepers are assisted by JRA's RiverRats, a volunteer corps of river monitors who patrol their chosen stretch of waterway looking for pollution and threats to wildlife habitat.
JRA implements solutions throughout the watershed to improve water quality. Throught volunteer programs such as public and self-directed trash clean-ups, River Hero Homes and community watershed restoration projects poeple of all ages have opportunities to participate in hands-on projects designed to prevent runoff and protect their local water quality. Each project has an educational component as many of the techniques learned by the volunteers can be applied at their own homes.
JRA works with decision makers throughout the watershed to increase their knowledge of the issues facing the James River and inform them on the best solutions that are available to them to benefit the James River.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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