Envision the James
The James River runs 340 miles through the heart of Virginia, where its waters and shores were witness to the beginning of American history. In the next 100 years, the James River will experience many changes that will affect collective quality of life.
Envision the James is a collaborative initiative that invites communities and individuals to help create a common vision for the James River to benefit present and future generations. This initiative stems from common interests of the James River Association, Chesapeake Conservancy, and National Geographic to inspire new–while enriching the existing–community conservation efforts on the James River through education, exploration, and community engagement and to develop a model that can be used on the Chesapeake Bay's other great rivers.
Launched in 2011, the Envision the James initiative seeks to achieve a shared vision and on-going commitments from communities and partners throughout the James River Basin to value, sustain, and enhance the region's natural and cultural heritage, local economies, wildlife abundance, and outdoor recreation assets for present and future generations. The vision will respect the river as a community asset by identifying and promoting opportunities to enhance:
- Heritage and river-based tourism
- Recreational trails and river access
- Conservation and restoration efforts
- Wildlife habitat throughout the watershed
The Envision the James initiative aims to facilitate communications among citizens, organizations, and business leaders in the region, as well as those with special interest in, or knowledge of, the James River watershed. Leaders in each of these groups participate as members of a Conservation Council, bringing together the expertise, ingenuity, and resources necessary to actualize a shared vision for the James.
This initiative is heavily based on public engagement, which incorporates outreach meetings, web-based community surveys, and a new National Geographic Maps web portal that features rich media content about the James. Engaging the residents of the James River watershed supports the Conservancy's dual goals of public engagement and conservation innovation.
Based on the feedback from the public and practitioners within the watershed, a geographically-specific vision identifying the most significant enhancement actions to be undertaken along the river corridor and throughout the watershed has been crafted. Partners have released the Envision the James: A Vision for the James River Watershed, introducing the two new core initiatives that emerged based on feedback: 1) James River Heritage and Recreation Corridor Initiative 2) James River Wildlife Habitat and Landscape Conservation Initiative. The document also outlines steps toward implementation of the vision for each of the initiatives.
Since the development of this vision, Envision the James partners have been busy implementing these initiatives on the ground. The James River Association has made significant strides in improving public access to the James River, while the Chesapeake Conservancy has been commited to engaging university students and local partners to identify conservation and restoration opportunities. These efforts have already led to the restoration of over 2 miles of riverfront habitat, including invasive species removals and the planting of over 1,000 native trees.
To learn more about Envision the James and the James River, visit http://www.envisionthejames.org.
Click on the maps below to see a sample of the James River watershed's abundant historical, recreational, and natural resources:
To learn more about these projects, click one of the links below:
To support the Conservancy’s goals of connecting people with the Chesapeake and developing a network of conservation corridors along the Bay and its tributaries, we are generating new partnerships, products, and processes that allow us to advance conservation efforts and public access while highlighting best practices and novel approaches to conservation in the region. Visit the Innovate section to learn more about our new projects, tools and trainings and how they are helping conservation organizations across the watershed.
Through advocacy and action, the Chesapeake Conservancy is working to identify and conserve the region’s hotspots; places that embody the spirit of the Bay and its great rivers and can serve as hubs for further river corridor conservation efforts. Read on and learn about our efforts to protect biodiversity and conserve lands along the Nanticoke River, our work to conserve Point Comfort – home of the historic Fort Monroe and second landing site of Capt. John Smith, and our collaborative efforts to create the Harriet Tubman National Monument.
More than 100,000 streams, creeks and rivers thread through the Chesapeake Bay watershed; yet citizens still struggle to find places where they can access these waterways. Significant stretches of shoreline have little or no access, making it difficult to plan trips along water trails and preventing people from accessing waterways in their own backyards. The Conservancy is working hard to create new public access sites to connect people to the Bay and its rivers.