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About the Initiative

Envision the James is a collaborative initiative that invites communities and individuals to create a common vision for the James River to benefit present and future generations.

The James River has become one of the nation's most treasured and historic landscapes, serving as the heart and lifeblood of our Commonwealth. In the next 100 years, the James River will experience many changes that will affect our collective quality of life.

The Envision the James initiative offers a unique opportunity to make your voice heard about how YOU want to see the legacy of the James River protected and enhanced. Through your active involvement, you can meet civic-minded people who share an interest in the future and who want to participate in creating innovative projects that make the community a more enjoyable and prosperous place to live, work, and explore. 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 March 2012, 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 will participate as members of a Conservation Council, bringing together the expertise, ingenuity, and resources necessary to actualize a shared vision for the James.

The Vision Process

Based on feedback provided by community members and the Conservation Council, a vision for the river will be developed over the next three years.

In summer of 2012, a community survey was conducted in order to explore community interests and preferences around various topics framed by the four themes mentioned above (see results here). Based on these results and on other river initiatives across the country, a selection of potential vision concepts has been developed. In December 2012, meetings were held with partner organizations across the watershed to gauge the potential of these concepts for future development and implementation within the watershed. At the same time, the public can take an online survey to share which of the concepts they would be most interested in seeing along the James River. Additionally, upcoming "Geopolls" will allow individuals to identify theme-related, place-based interests.

Based on the feedback from the partner meetings, the community survey, and the Geopolls, promising concepts will be refined through additional online tools and community meetings throughout the watershed. Once a geographically-specific vision identifying the most significant enhancement actions to be undertaken along the river corridor and throughout the watershed is crafted, local development/conservation plans will also be obtained in order to guide potential implementation actions.  

To aid in the development of a well-rounded and compelling vision, the website uses interactive mapping and multimedia tools to provide information about the watershed's special places, features, and people. Your ideas about how communities can leverage and share the benefits of a healthy James River will inform the evolution of the Envision the James initiative over time.

We invite you to join the community to receive email notification of upcoming public workshops and invitations to complete surveys and respond to "geopolls" featured on the Your Vision section of this website.


Alexandra Cousteau's Blue Legacy (April 30, 2012)
The Roanoke Times (April 26, 2012)
The News & Advance of Lynchburg (April 24, 2012)
Richmond Times-Dispatch (April 6, 2012) (April 4, 2012)

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