by John Bragg, New Kent, VA

Story prompt: The river is important to me because …

I remember those rivers I was so fortunate to live near in West Virginia during my formative years. My boyhood home abuts to what is now the New River Gorge National Park. I recall quite vividly hiking to the New River, climbing over the cliffs and either fishing, swimming or just being a kid along the river banks. An unpleasant memory however is forgetting to ask permission from my parents and their reaction after I completed a few of these adventures.

Before moving to Richmond in the early 1990’s I really did not know what to expect: The James River; A Tidal River; No Whitewater or cliffs; Rumors of a heavy pollutant load? I cringed at the thought of leaving my beloved Mountain waters to a flat land river!! What am I going to do? I found out quickly that the common denominator between lovers of Mountaineer Rivers and lovers of the James River is being outside and adventuring whether fishing, kayaking, hiking, boating or just fully enjoying nature. My first job here was as an environmental planner employed by local government through a Chesapeake Bay Grant. That is why I think it is critical that we collectively do all we can to promote river conservation by doing our part in reducing pollution, promoting conservation and training younger ones of the critical needs of this watershed

My answer to the main question about what my favorite memories are? I thoroughly enjoy watching folks of all ages learning about and cavorting on the beloved James and its tributaries.

Photos provided by John Bragg