Partnership to help water quality in James River

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new partnership is going to establish hundreds of acres of riparian forested buffers along part of the James River.

Governor Ralph Northam says the James River Buffer Program is a partnership between the Virginia Department of Forestry and the James River Association.

It will set up more than 900 acres of riparian forested buffers in the Middle James region.

According to a release, this initiative to restore river and streamside forest buffers comes from the Virginia Environmental Endowment's James River Water Quality Improvement Programs grant that was awarded to the VDOF and the JRA.

"The James River is one of Virginia's most significant natural resources and an integral part of our economy, and this new partnership will ensure that the Commonwealth is able to address its need effectively," said Northam. "With this program, we have the opportunity to work with Virginia farmers and landowners to advance out restoration and clean water goals and make the strategic investments that will enhance the health of the river and the well-being of our people."

Riparian forested buffers are forested streambanks where trees, shrubs, grasses and other vegetation grow alongside the waterway.

These provide valuable habitat for wildlife and are considered one of the most cost-effective mechanisms for capturing pollution from the land and keeping it out of the waterway.

"As part of Virginia's new road map for restoring the Chesapeake Bay and James River, Virginia has set robust, realistic and science-based goals for increasing streamside forest buffers," said Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler. "Forest buffers play a critical role in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay by removing pollution from agriculture and urban runoff, stabilizing stream banks and providing wildlife habitat."

So far, the James River Water Quality Improvement program has awarded more than $4.4 million in grants as part of a $15 million initiative that is designed to produce significant water quality benefits in the river through targeted on-the-ground investments over the next several years.

For more information on the James River Buffer Program, click on the link in the Related Links box.

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