The James River in Virginia was a historical dumping ground for sewage and waste. Despite early importance in river travel, the James River became unnecessary as trains and trucks became the major modes of transportation, and for years it was considered a place for dumping; until the mid-1960s the James River was properly deemed an open sewer, and the public was not permitted to use or fish it.
Conservation efforts began in the 1960s and 1970s as land along the river was donated to the state as public park land. Private and public efforts to reduce dumping and clean up trash continued until the establishment of the James River Park System in 1972, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping the river and surrounding areas clean and safe. The JRPS is supported by several other local organizations as well as the state Parks and Recreation Board, which assists in subsidizing reclamation of lands and construction.