In an article titled “Let’s Save the Fish,” the January 29, 1942 issue of The Bossier Banner brought to the attention of its readers the problem of pollution in Bodcau Bayou.
“Stream pollution in its very worst form, perhaps, is to be noted in Bossier Parish at present. We have reference to conditions existing in Bodcau Bayou, where many game fish—tons of them—have been killed by water poisoned as a result of operations at the Spring Hill paper mill, according to current reports.”
“For many years past Bodcau has been fairly a fisherman’s paradise—a fruitful source of sport and a mecca for all who like good game fish on their tables occasionally. It is of such length, of so many channels and by-channels and sloughs, and is fed by so many springs, having an abundance of timber for shade and much aquatic growth, that it is a natural and desirable home for fish. During its high water states it is constantly restocked and once there unexcelled feeding and spawning grounds for many varieties of fish at hand.”
“Sportsmen and people generally who like to fish, and who during many years past have been accustomed to fish on Bodcau, keenly regret to note its present pollution and its passing for the time being as a successful fishing stream. From the view of the sportsman the prevailing condition is bad enough—too bad—but it would be in error to consider the destruction of the stream’s fish and such resultant waste only from that viewpoint. The old stream during many years past has been literally ‘the poor man’s friend,’ affording a food supply not to be lightly reckoned with. There is more reason now, during a time of war, why this abundant source of food should be conserved than ever before. Formerly one fishing on Bodcau, during the season for such, met many others also fishing. Often all had good catches of crappie and other perch. These fish were not taken merely for the sport it afforded; for always the fish were taken to some home to be served on the table…Nothing was wasted—except that often undersized fish were not placed back in the water. For the present all that is lost to the people of Bossier Parish and those others who came to Bodcau to fish from many other parishes.”
“The saw mill operator, the lumber yards, the hardware dealers and the builders of boats all profited through the operations of those who kept boats for rent—and the man who had such a business and kept good boats to let made plenty of money to spend with the country merchants and others. For the present all that is lost to us. And it won’t come back until the practice of releasing poisoned water into Bodcau is corrected.”
The article went on to speculate that once Shreveport grows into a big city Cross Lake would be merely a playground for the city and no longer a fit source for Shreveport’s water supply. Shreveport would then have to look to Bodcau for a source of water supply, only to find it polluted and unfit.
In addition, when Bodcau Dam was constructed the stored waters could not be used for irrigation purposes because they would be poisoned. Furthermore, stock would be poisoned by drinking the polluted waters up and down Bodcau.
In light of the above and other unmentioned “evils” the article concluded with a call for the situation to be corrected, as well as a feeling of certainty that the people of Bossier Parish would see that it would be done.
To find out how the situation was resolved, as well as other Bossier Parish situations, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.
Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org