Monday, October 26, 2009

RiverLink is eager to know what city council candidates are proposing as part of their campaign platform to protect and enhance the French Broad River Watershed. RiverLink developed a survey for the city council candidates. Below are their responses (in alphabetical order). Thank you for your input!

Cecil Bothwell's response:


What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

I have been an enthusiastic supporter of the plan for many years. I would be a strong advocate of using a dedicated bond to fund the Riverway and greenways in the city and rally the people of Asheville to approve such a bond in a referendum. We should certainly work with Buncombe County to extend the system. As for other counties, I would think we could principally lead by example.

Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

I will be attending the Planning Board meeting to express my strong opposition to reduction in the buffer width. I don't have a complete understanding of how stream sizes are rated, but I would advocate 100 foot buffers on major streams, 30 feet on the smallest and perhaps a step in between for middle-sized waterways.

What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

According to the best climate modeling, pending climate change is going to increase the frequency of weather extremes. That makes it imperative that we plan floodplain uses that can endure severe flooding (while doing all we can to protect upslope areas to slow the impact.) Restoring the riverfront to simply let the river be the river is the first, and cheapest step. Opening some areas to access as parks, ball fields and picnic areas allows people to be with the river, and then bike and walking trails help connect the dots. I am a strong advocate of multi-modal transportation options that will help walkers and bikers get to the river. (Also, per the ADC proposal, an elevator on the Smoky Park Bridge to let people and bikes access the riverfront.) I believe that as the riverfront is restored, private investment will provide money to develop residential and business sites facing the river.

What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

Enforcement of slope protection rules seems to lag way behind the laws themselves. The recent debacle in Kenilworth is a good (bad?) example of lax enforcement. I believe we need to do much more to reduce the use of impermeable parking surfaces, to require developers to impound run-off into recharge basins, to encourage use of rainwater catchment, and to reduce water consumption. (I have advanced a plan that would encourage voluntary conservation. We pretend we have plenty of water, but we continually starve the river during droughts.)

With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

Clearly so. It sometimes astounds me how much better other river cities have shaped their relationship to the waterway. If we adopt best practices for protecting our tributary streams, enhance the redevelopment potential of riverfront property and show others how great their relationship to the river could be, it sets a strong example.

How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?

Water is the new oil. We are entering a period of permanent global drought and have already seen food riots which are, at their base, water riots, in countries around the world. Water is, beyond any question, the most valuable resource on the planet, yet we squander it. (Perhaps because rain is "free.") Our geography creates rain as clouds push up over the mountains, cool and condense, so we are likely to remain one of the wetter areas even as warming shifts the weather and population rockets up. Water is critical to agriculture, and local food is a centerpiece of regional sustainability. In a way, the river doesn't so much contribute to sustainability as offer a barometer on the state of the system. If we practice sustainable agriculture, reduce storm run-off, capture rain and use it once or twice before it rejoins the flow, buffer tributaries, and protect forested steep slopes, the resulting health of the river will be our indicator that we are getting it right.


Robin Cape's response:


What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

The Wilma Dykeman River way is the centerpiece of our community’s river redevelopment and will play an integral part in the future health and economic vibrancy of the whole region. If we look at other communities that have invested in a river related greenway system as part of their community development, we can see the results and outcomes and the positive impact on the surrounding regions. The City of Asheville and Buncombe County are currently establishing a River District Commission that consists of a variety of the stakeholders along the river, including Riverlink, who can work together consciously to direct and guide the redevelopment of the river way. This will offer opportunities for engaging the Wilma Dykeman plan with potential redevelopment options. Funding opportunities exist in the State tax incremental financing program, in partnerships with Department of Transportation

Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

One of the opportunities we have locally is to utilize the visualization modeling applications of the local National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC)to see exactly what these charts propose. I am supportive of utilizing these decision making tools to help us fully understand which buffers are the right size on the properties listed in the charts. It is important that we make information understandable and usable and NEMAC has been developed to assist in value based decision making. From simply looking at a chart it is difficult to assess the value of these proposals. I will be asking staff to provide council with better tools in the decision making process.

What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

Keeping in mind the overall state and federal laws regulating building within these areas we can encourage mixed used development that is built to withstand a flood event without permanent and lasting damage to the structures and infrastructure. Designing in concert with the possibility of flood occurrences, we can create livable viable community assets that bring more people to that area to live, work, play and be a part of our vital riverfront. The River Redevelopment Commission can focus attention on the necessary policies, funding and support needed to bring the visions for the River to fruition. I support the establishment of the River Redeveloment Commission.

What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

We need to continually assess the success of the regulations that protect the streams and rivers to ensure their effectiveness. Enforcement of existing rules and regulations is essential and the city has made great strides in enforcing the rules that protect our waterways by increasing the penalties and fees that accrue when violations occur.

With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

Absolutely and Asheville is taking that leadership role by encouraging the formulation of the River District

ReDevelopment Commission to aid and abet the planning and implementation of quality community development, infrastructure and assets along the river.

How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?

Water is one of the crucial human needs. We always need to protect and maintain our access to this natural resource. The French Broard River is an exceptional opportunity for our community to build on our reputation as a beautiful city within a wonderful environment. Like many other communities, the river is the natural wonder within our city borders. Protecting it and supporting the development of quality community assets along it will be a major part of our future.


Esther Manheimer's response:


What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

Greenways, whether under the Wilma Dykeman Riverway project or the Greenways Master Plan, should play a prominent role in Asheville’s future. A functional, connected system of greenways throughout Asheville will not only provide practical transportation solutions and enhance the overall health and well-being of our citizenry in the process, but will, additionally, increase property values and generally further enhance Asheville’s already vibrant community. Greenways, walkable urban cooridors, bike paths, and other non-vehicular traffic infrastructure will encourage and foster human to human interaction which will, in turn, create community. Funding options must be analyzed but I do not favor the current pay as you go method of funding and prefer comprehensive funding options. The City and the County should work together to construct a greenways system as there is collective goal to see the areas around our rivers enhanced, revitalized and enjoyed by our citizens.

Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

Earlier proposals for Asheville’s stormwater ordinance (which include the mentioned buffer) were confusing making it difficult for the City to enforce and making it difficult for applicants to comply with. Therefore, as a supporter of watercourse protection, whatever setback is adopted, the regulations must be clear for the reasons already stated. I prefer a standard that seeks to regulate projects that disturb land over a certain size (e.g. one-half acre) and simply provide a setback from the top of the bank. Some versions of the proposed ordinance might require an applicant to retain a landscape architect or an engineer just to determine whether the potential applicant is subject to the regulations. I have asked the City to consider adopting the model ordinance provided by the North Carolina Institute of Government as it meets the requirement of adhering to State law while maintaining the necessary clarity.

What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

The City has already taken great strides in re-envisioning the future uses of our City’s floodplain where it falls in the River District. Certain types of development are appropriate for a floodplain while other types are not. The vision of Asheville’s citizens for the River District is to revitalize the area with appropriate uses such as greenways and parks and a thriving arts community, while sharing space with traditional businesses that rely on the present railway system such as recycling centers. The City’s zoning ordinances and environmental ordinances seek to protect our watercourses while encouraging these appropriate uses of the floodplain.

What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

The federal government, the State (through the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)) and the City all regulate streams and rivers and the lands that surround them. The current regulations are adequate but the enforcement of the same is lacking. As a land use attorney with experience in environmental law, the biggest hurdle to enforcement is jurisdiction. Often the City and the State have differing interpretations as to the jurisdiction of a project allowing for enforcement of thorough regulations to fall between the cracks.

With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

Yes, Asheville must lead the way in setting an example for zoning and regulatory protection of our watercourses while demonstrating that such regulations will not hinder, and, in fact, can encourage, the revitalization and growth of our waterways.

How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?

The word sustainability means many things to many different people, but used in this context, the French Broad River and its watershed help diversify the economy of Buncombe County, which, in turn, helps foster a sustainable community. The River and its watershed does this by providing ample water for our homes and businesses, by providing a geographical location around which to locate greenways, parks, the arts, businesses and otherwise help grow appropriate uses for the River, and provide an attraction near which citizens want to live, work, play and otherwise promote community.


Carl Mumpower's response:


What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

I have no resistance to the Riverway - admire the concept. It does not, however, fall on my top ten priority list. Jobs, the economy, our open air drug markets in public housing, street and sidewalk maintenance, keeping taxes low, etc. are higher on the list. I do not believe the plan is realistic to current economic realities locally or nationally.

Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

I do not believe in taking people's private property (per the Constitution) without proper compensation. It is my sense that buffers represent a well intended effort thar results in such. I recognize the effort to expand the flexibility of the ordinance, but would not support it for the reason noted. I am in favor of enthusiastic enforcement of environmental abuses over property seizure in any form. 5th Amendment to the Constitution - "...nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation..."

What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

Get out of the way and allow the natural forces of a free market economy to do what it does if allowed to work. Participate in those initiatives that are affordable, realistic, and sensitive to personal property rights as well as the common good. I value the potentials of the floodplain.

What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

We have mostly adequate laws in place, however, enforcement is inconsistent or selective. Laws without enforcement are more about motion that action. Sincere protection requires the latter.

With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

As a healthy model of what is fair and what works - certainly. As big brother - no.


How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?

Water is likely to be the gold of the 21st century. Our watershed can be compared to an individual's vascular system – it is crucial to our longevity. Nontheless, there are other pieces to the puzzle - all of which matter. A vascular system without a brain, heart, and hand is a limited resource. I have an interest in the balanced governance and support of all our region's resources - most especially our people - all our people. Including those that like to watch races down by the river. [;

Thanks for this opportunity,

Carl Mumpower

Asheville City Council


Gordon Smith's response:

What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

The Wilma Dykeman Riverway ought to be the lead project in a comprehensive multimodal transportation network. It will provide an alternate route for cyclists and pedestrians from one end of town to the other. The areas now marked by industrial decay will be ripe for important new development once the Riverway is in place. Locals and tourists alike will be able to enjoy the river in a whole new way. The Wilma Dykeman Riverway embodies a sustainable future in that it addresses economic, environmental, and community needs. The benefits are apparent to people across the political and socioeconomic spectrum.

Whether we utilize TIF Districts, funding from an increased hotel occupancy tax, or a bond referendum, we must create a dedicated stream of money to implement this vital project.

Buncombe County and other decision-making bodies will see the amazing results of our efforts and will come to us as experts on moving projects like this forward.

Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

I believe we ought to keep the current ordinance in place. The proposed revisions are too subjective and confusing to be uniformly applied. Further, the current ordinance has had only two requests for variance, both of which were granted. This fact refutes the proposition that the existing ordinance is onerous to property owners.

What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

Carrier Park is an excellent use of our city’s floodplain. As borne out by the floods of 2004, we must be keenly aware of how impervious surfaces create the conditions for flooding downriver. Our uses of these areas must take into consideration future floods as well as the community need for adequate open space and green space.

What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

Our current Stormwater ordinance and Steep slope regulations, if uniformly enforced, may provide adequate protection regarding runoff and streamside vegetation. I believe that we need another couple of years with the existing ordinances. At that time we ought to review how successful they have been in protecting our streams and rivers.

With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

Yes. First leading by example, then partnering with regional entities, Asheville can be the hub of a sustainable western North Carolina.

How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?

Four sustainable aspects of the French Broad River immediately spring to mind รข€"

1) The river is the drinking water for thousands of citizens. It’s quality is vital to their health and well being.

2) Thousands of acres of farmland depend on a healthy French Broad River for irrigating crops.

3) Economic benefits such as boating, rafting, fishing, camping, and their supportive services support businesses and

offer locals and visitors alike opportunities to experience the river.

4) Our communities benefit from the parks and open spaces adjacent to the river.



Thanks to the candidates who responded! The following are the candidates that we did not hear back from:

Jay Neal Jackson

Terry Bellamy (mayoral candidate)

Robert Edwards (mayoral candidate)




Be A Risk-taker: I dare you...


This editorial appeared in the Asheville Citizen Times on Sunday October 25, and was written by RiverLink Executive Director Karen Cragnolin as the 6th article in the Risk Takers Series

Risk-takers who made downtown what it is today should take a bow. They've done an extraordinary job. Reviving downtown Asheville was anything but easy. It took Julian Price and other philanthropists' energy, along with lots of sweat equity, creativity, money, bonds, controversy, bankruptcy and historic preservation. It also took saying “no” to a proposed downtown mall and recognition that at times something isn't better than nothing. It took leadership as well as people willing to follow. It takes entrepreneurs, change and gentrification — all combined — to make the downtown what it is today.


Asheville's downtown is the best, most vibrant and diverse downtown in the state, and possibly the Southeast, with the highest restaurant and retail sales per capita in the state and a taxable value of $3,525,901 per acre in the central business district. Big risks led to equally big rewards. As we move more into a maintenance and preservation to protect this fabulous gem, our risk-takers' job description changes. Now we must be vigilant that we don't lose the essence of what makes the downtown so wonderful while at the same time keeping it vibrant and current.But when you compare revitalization of downtown to riverfront revitalization, downtown is and was “low hanging fruit” — easy by comparison. Revitalizing the river encompasses all the downtown issues, challenges and needs — plus all the issues unique to rivers: flooding, multiple and often contradictory regulations at various governmental levels, erosion, sediment, railroads, interrupted access, junk yards, gentrification, land use and protection of the region's drinking water.


The French Broad has shared philanthropists like Julian Price with the downtown. Julian was a very early risk-taker on the river 20 years ago. He financed RiverLink's purchase of the Warehouse Studios and gave us a mortgage when banks in town thought cash flow from artists' rents couldn't possibly cover a mortgage payment. Progress Energy was another risk-taker, donating land to build the first greenway in Asheville along the river (now French Broad River Park) when RiverLink didn't have a plan or a penny to build it. Progress took another big risk by cleaning up a former manufactured gas site by removing 10,000 tons of contaminated dirt and spending $3 million to help bring the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay greenway to the downtown side of the river.


The Janirve Foundation has been a nonstop risk-taker for our community and the river. What would Asheville be like without the generosity and risk-taking of the Janirve Foundation? The Stanback family have been incredible risk-takers, too. They refused to give up on the chestnut trees and are having great success bringing these wonders back to life. The family has invested in open spaces across our region and state and along the river corridor. These opens spaces are forever — gifts of eternity.For over 20 years the grass-roots risk-takers on the river, backed by philanthropists, businesses, volunteers and dreamers have shared a common vision. We believe the river is a melting pot of people and ideas. We collectively envisioned and documented utilizing the river for walking, biking, hiking, paddling, living, working, eating, shopping, viewing and producing arts and crafts, not to mention fishing, recycling, manufacturing and playing. It is happening today, greenway by greenway, junkyard by junkyard, entrepreneur by entrepreneur.


Twenty years ago over 1,000 of RiverLink's grass-roots river risk-takers bought “Deeds of Support” at $50 per foot to build the first greenway in Asheville. These river risk-takers were regular people. They didn't necessarily own river businesses and had no profit motive; they just loved the river and knew it should be better used and protected. They've grown exponentially in numbers and have persevered as grass-roots leaders helping RiverLink develop the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay and with plans and to buy junkyards, speedways, cotton mills and old repair shops and storage facilities for adaptive reuse.
The combined efforts of these early risk-takers and the sheer beauty and potential of the river, along with low rent, have helped create the “buzz” on the river. The river has attracted loads of national media attention, artists, music venues, high tech manufacturers, restaurants, microbrewers, boat rental companies and shopping areas. It is funky and cool and uniquely Asheville. Risk-takers on the river have understood the importance of remembering what Wilma Dykeman always said, “It is important to know and understand the difference between cost and value.” They support good ideas even if they are someone else's. They're in for the long haul.
Sustainability is the new buzz word. But the Native Americans knew sustainability meant planning not just for today, but for the well being of the next seven generations. Sustainability is what old timers call common sense. You don't eat your seed corn. So as we take risks for the future of our community and river we need to make sure we continue to understand and incorporate into our actions and plans the difference between cost and value. We believe we have taken great risks on the river and there are many more risks to be taken.
And, just like with downtown, the big risks will bring equally big challenges and rewards.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Put your best foot forward at Carrier Park!




Asheville’s beloved Mountain Xpress readers have voted, and Carrier Park was voted number one for THE BEST PLACE TO WALK/RUN! The Ole’ Xpress had some lovely things to say about Carrier Park; “one of Asheville's hidden gems, where the whole family can relax and have fun. The park features easy walking/biking trails, the "mellow" drome (the old racetrack), picnic shelters, a cool playground and even shuffleboard.”
I will go over a brief history of Carrier Park (with the help of RiverLink's Executive Director, Karen Cragnolin), from speedway to greenway, followed by a play by play way to spend your day at Carrier Park (there is so much to do!)

It was just 10 years ago in October 1999 when RiverLink bought the old Asheville Motor Speedway, and in those ten short years the old speedway has transformed into the most used recreational facility in the entire region and is now known and loved as Carrier Park. It is 50 acres of sheer fun and a critical link in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay. NC DOT has funded a trail which we encourage you to use from Carrier Park to Hominy Creek Park. Now we have four miles of greenway as part of the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay.

RiverLink bought the old EDACO junkyard, which is next to Carrier Park in 2006 and renamed it Karen Cragnolin Park, after our amazing Executive Director. RiverLink worked with DH Griffin and recycled 100,000 tons of concrete that covered the junk yard. RiverLink was just awarded $300,000 in stimulus funds to clean up the oil, grease, diesel fuels left over from being an auto junk yard for 50 years. RiverLink is going to be the first in the region to utilize a Brownfield for Open Space and the first in the region to do a Brownfield using phytoremediation. What is phytoremediation, you ask? It is plants. Yes, plants can clean up a contaminated site! RiverLink will use this site as a demonstration site to demonstrate how to clean up junkyards. Unfortunately, junkyards in Asheville are all along the river corridor - and as land uses change in the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay phytoremediation may be the least expensive way to clean up the all the oil, gas and diesel fuels that are left and contaminate the soil!

So, If you are looking for something to do, then head out to Carrier Park and fill your day with fun underneath the sun or shade (depending on the way of the day…). Mellow out with a walk around the “mellow” drome, or if you are feeling frisky, lace up the old roller skates and pretend you’re hand and hand with your old high school sweet heart with Luther Vandross swinging sweetly in the background. Once you’ve had a skate down memory lane, head over the basketball courts and play a game of pick up (no shirts v. skins, please.) After you are done pretending to be Michael Jordan in his glory days, head out to one of the picnic tables and enjoy that nice North Carolina juicy apple that you packed for a picnic. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park. Carrier Park also has a large picnic shelter for your enjoyment!

What next you ask? If you’re feeling up to it, head over to the playground and have a good swing; feel the wind at your back and the observe the clouds in your horizon. If you have any friskiness left in you, head down the slide, or take an airplane ride (stationary, but hey we all have a bit of imagination churning through us!) Still going strong? How about a game of sand volleyball, or doing a little shuffle on the shuffleboard. Perhaps you could stretch out those fingers for some bowling; lawn bowling that is (also known as bocce ball over in Italy, Prego!)

Once you have worked up a sweat, head out for a stroll along the many nature trails the park offers. Stop for a breathtaking view of the French Broad River, and breathtaking it is; it literally took my breath away the other day. I found a hidden spot high on the bank where I sat down to ponder the day and let the river wash my worries away. The river seemed to calm me as I sat and admired all the vibrant leaves floating freely down the Ole Broad. The fall colors reflecting on the river is true beauty to the eye. If you are a picture person, this is the perfect time of year to start snapping away. The sights are truly inspirational!

Carrier Park is a park for everyone’s enjoyment, for it seems to bring out the youth in all of us. The park brings together generations young and young at heart to enjoy their day; follow the youthful advice lining the fence of the playground.

“Giggle”
“Go for it”
“Paddle”
“Laugh”
“Awe”

Basically, Carrier Park was made with fun in mind. No wonder the Mountain Xpress readers voted it the best place to walk/run because when you are at Carrier Park; you feel at your best. So go ahead and put your best foot forward and enjoy the ever-inspiring Carrier Park!

Cheers,
Kyle E. Wolff
AmeriCorps member
RiverLink’s newbie to the blogosphere

Monday, October 19, 2009

On Azalea Road

We are conducting a big cleanup on Azalea Road tomorrow the 20th -lots of great volunteers to remove invasive species and litter of course . We are also out on the river with the kids from RiverCorps at the Asheville Middle School- lets hope it is warmer than this week end!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Big Sweep = Big Success!




The call for rain did not deter the 120 dedicated volunteers from participating in the Big Sweep Cleanup of the French Broad River coordinated by RiverLink, Asheville GreenWorks, Asheville Outdoor Center and 1-800-Got Junk this past Saturday. In their brightly colored rain jackets, volunteers from ages 3 years old and up collected 3,440 pounds of trash and about 400 pounds of recyclables from the French Broad River!

Volunteers cleaned up on the riverbanks and in the river in canoes, waders and john boats in the six mile stretch from Hominy Creek to the intersection of Riverside and Broadway. In addition to the usual trash suspects of tires, bottles and cans, volunteers also removed car doors, corroded oil drums and televisions. One cleanup team discovered a huge pile of tires on the river banks near Pearson Bridge Drive where they were able to remove 25 tires with about 100 tires still remaining. RiverLink and Asheville GreenWorks are working on getting these tires removed. Illegal dumping of tires and other trash is a big problem in the French Broad River Watershed especially along riverbanks.

"Trash negatively impacts the water quality of the French Broad River. It also makes fun recreational water activities not enjoyable. Who wants to see tires when kayaking or canoeing down the river?" says Hartwell Carson, RiverLink's French Broad Riverkeeper. "These volunteers are directly helping to improve the river's water quality and making our river a more beautiful waterway for everyone."

RiverLink thanks everyone who participated in the Big Sweep Cleanup including Asheville Outdoor Center for lending canoes and 1-800-Got-Junk for collecting and transporting the trash and recyclables to their proper disposal places.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

RiverLink Questions City Council Candidates

It's election time; the air is crisp, the leaves are changing and city council candidates are making their priorities known in an effort to be elected to the Asheville City Council. RiverLink is eager to know what these potential city council members are proposing as part of their campaign platform to protect and enhance the French Broad River Watershed. RiverLink developed a short and simple survey, with the following questions:

1. What is your vision for implementing the Wilma Dykeman Riverway (a regional model consisting of 17 miles of greenways along the Swannanoa and French Broad River)? How would you ensure funding to implement this plan? How/or should the City of Asheville work with the Buncombe and other counties to expand and replicate this plan throughout the watershed? Why or why not?

2. Over 25 municipalities in North Carolina require buffers ranging from 30 to 100ft along streams. A new proposal (click and scroll to page 13 to see new proposal) by the City of Asheville calls for changes to Asheville's current 30 ft stream buffers. What do you feel is the right size stream buffers in Asheville?

3. What is your vision for future uses within our city's floodplain? How will you implement that vision?

4. What regulations and enforcement do you think are adequately protecting our streams and rivers and what, if any, areas need additional regulation and enforcement?

5. With Asheville having the largest tax and population base in the region, is there a leadership role for Asheville when it comes to land use planning along waterways throughout the region?

6. How does the French Broad River and its watershed contribute to the region's sustainability?


The French Broad Watershed is a valuable resource for the region. Both city and regional river fans need to understand how the folks they elect view the river. RiverLink will publish the candidate's answers on Monday, October 26th, using all its media outlets. RiverLink encourages the public to participate in the survey as well to find out how their opinions compare to those of the candidates (click here to voice your opinion concerning the watershed or to participate.) The public's answers will remain anonymous. RiverLink will link the potential candidate's names with their respected answers .

RiverLink, is a regional non-profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River and its tributaries as a place to work, live and play. RiverLink is home to the French Broad Riverkeeper, and employs full-time education and volunteer coordinators. Volunteer information sessions are held the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 10am & 5pm at RiverLink offices, join RiverLink this Wednesday, October 14th. RiverLink also conducts monthly bus tours with an over-view of the past, present and future of the French Broad River Watershed, with a tour this Thursday, October 15th from 12-2pm. Sign up
for RiverLink's monthly newsletter at http://www.riverlink.org/newsletter.asp, follow RiverLink’s tweets at www.twitter.com/RiverLink, befriend RiverLink on facebook at www.facebook.com/RiverLink and check out RiverLink's space at www.myspace.com/RiverLink. Hop aboard this election season, and be a voice of the French Broad River Watershed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Fall has Fallen


Due to a minor power outage this morning, I had the opportunity to get out of the office here at RiverLink and in step with nature. I decided to head down to French Broad River Park to enjoy the fresh crisp fall air, and observe the first foliage findings. Many people were out and about, enjoying the sunshine and scenery. The dogs seemed to have an extra bounce in their step as they happily trotted alongside their owners.


Every so often, the wind scurried along causing the leaves to dance about the park. Yellows, greens, oranges and a hint of red were floating about, making me stop in my step and sit to enjoy this natural beauty. I found a bench right along the French Broad River, donated by RiverLink in honor of Corrine Zenga, which glistened under the sunshine. Looking out onto the French Broad River, I was taken back by the power and righteousness of the river. A river fills itself with strength, stamina and simplicity.


I could have sat there all day, observing the French Broad River and the lingering leaves, but was re-insured by the fact that it was not going anywhere. These parks were made for our convenience. Parks and greenways are great places to nurture our curiosity of the great outdoors. The French Broad River Park offers swings to sway, a dog park for dogs to play, picnic tables to ponder the day, scenery to study nature’s way and walkways to wander away.


If you have some free time today, I encourage you to get outside and have a heart-to-heart with nature. You won’t be disappointed!



Cheers,

Kyle E. Wolff

AmeriCorps Member

Communication Outreach Coordinator