We set course from the Huguenot Flatwater access point on the James River towards Bosher Dam. The air was showing signs of a chill and the water was murky due to the recent heavy rainfall. The riparian zone was saturated with sycamore and river birch and we could see paw-paw fruits floating on top of the water.
Although the area was teeming with life, there were also signs of human influence. The Huguenot bridge and the Willey bridge were along our journey upstream and created an urbanized atmosphere, similar to our paddle on the Willamette River. When we reached Bosher Dam, we were able to take a closer look at the fish ladder. This ladder was built in 1999 to allow passage of shad, striped bass, yellow perch, and herring upstream. However, the structure is only functioning during the fish mating season of March to June. As Quinn mentioned, we saw a single cormorant searching for vulnerable prey since the ladder was not operational during our visit. The behavior of the cormorant may demonstrate a need for the fish ladder to be operational year-round to provide passage for the few fish would may need to reach the area upstream.
The dam itself serves no current environmental purpose – only to provide a peaceful boating territory for wealthy homeowners along the river. If anything, the dam harms the local habitat due to a buildup of sediment at the base of the dam and the general disturbance of the aquatic area and its residents. Bosher dam is now solely a convenience for humans and this perfectly exemplifies man’s dominance over nature just as the English colonists controlled it centuries ago. Does man have a right to change nature for his own pleasure? Anthropocentric advocates such as recreational users and some politicians may agree, but if all components of the surrounding environment are considered then the fish win.