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Natural Awakenings Richmond

Conservation Can Be Fun

Feb 28, 2022 09:36PM ● By Erin Hillert
The James River

A sturgeon sighting trip is just one of the many unforgettable experiences available by joining the James River Association (JRA) on their Great Return of the Atlantic Sturgeon outings and other guided river tours, better known as the JRA Connect with the James program, which continues to grow every year. The JRA was able to get 550 passengers on the water through Connect with the James last year, up from 278 the year before, and the organization has a goal to double the number again in 2022 with an exciting refresh centered on the hybrid of new themes and tried-and-true adventures.

In essence, Connect with the James offers participants the opportunity to relax and enjoy a guided journey on the water while learning about the history, wildlife and cultural and natural resources of the James River and its tributaries. Riders can sign up to take a kayak, canoe or pontoon boat ride with options that include exploring the habitats of migratory birds, discovering marshlands filled with aquatic animals, unwinding on a sunset cruise and more.

New for 2022, the program will expand options to spend time on the James (and make a difference for the river) by adding opportunities like Spanish-speaking trips, biking, hiking and trash cleanups to the already tempting roster. The organization is also committed to ensuring accessible programming for all with adaptive trips. And signing up for a Connect with the James trip translates to giving back to the river, with 100 percent of the trip cost going toward the JRA’s vision of a fully healthy James River supporting thriving communities.

“The James River is often referred to as ‘America’s Founding River.’ Its waters have shaped our cultures and shared history, and currently, 2.7 million people rely on it for clean drinking water,” says Mike Lyden, JRA operations manager. “From finding a calm refuge hiking the Appalachians to premier urban whitewater in Richmond and all the way down to enjoying the tidal flats, the James truly provides a place for everyone. We’re excited to kick off another season of this program so everyone can connect to the James and find their river adventure.”

The JRA’s Connect with the James programs are currently running with opportunities to enjoy and explore the river through October. Bookmark their website and check back often, as new adventures will be released throughout the year.

Sign up at

Erin Hillert is senior marketing and communications manager for the James River Association.


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