News & Awards

RiverLink is proud to offer two award recognition programs each year.  Through these award recognition programs we seek to salute our volunteers and celebrate good river stewards and the variety of individuals, businesses and talents that must blend their energies to keep our waterways healthy.

CriticaLink Award

RiverLink Honors 2015 CriticaLink Volunteers

Each year the RiverLink board of directors selects non-board member volunteers to honor. These CriticaLinks have distiquished themselves through their long-term efforts, creativity, persistence and impact and earned this special recognition. In the past RiverLink has honored such notables at Margie Eblen, Joe Eblen, Margie Maxwell, Mr. James Green, Art Streppa, Maylyn Seyler, Jim and Peggy Brazell, Jean Webb, Sally Rhoades, Jane Mathews, Kate Mathews, Bob Bowles, Walt Damtoft and a host of other terrific volunteers who helped make the organization better because of their involvement.

In 2016,  RiverLink was delighted to honor the following CriticaLinks 2015 for their work to improve the French Broad River and its watershed as a destination for everyone to live, learn, work and play.

DAN HITCHCOCK – Asheville attorney Daniel Hitchcock served as the Chairman of the RiverLink  Board of Directors July 2012 – June 2015. He joined the Board in 2009, and served as Vice- Chair 2010 – 12. Dan is a shareholder with the law firm of Adams, Hendon, Carson, Crow & Saenger, P.A. where he has practiced since 2004.  Dan is an avid cyclist and enjoys hiking and camping in the Mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife and two sons.  In addition to his steady hand on the helm, Dan’s expertise was instrumental in RiverLink’s conservation easement program and the French Broad River Paddle Trail.

“I love to float the French Broad River in a canoe and reconnect with the sense of adventure that I knew as a child,” Dan says. “I love to take my boys to Carrier Park and to look around and see the smiling faces  of people enjoying the open space in so many different ways.  RiverLink is bringing people to the river thru its camps for kids, concerts, establishment  of parks and creation of the French Broad River paddle trail, and by supporting the redevelopment of the River District.”

BARB KORB – Pittsburgh native Barbara LaGuardia Korb retired as marketing and operations director for AT&T and moved to the Asheville area with her husband Dave in 2009. Barb served two terms on the RiverLink Board of Directors and headed up the Anything That Floats Parade team three years in a row, including 2013, when RiverLink saw a record 30 entrants take part in the floating party. Barb Korb’s love of rivers emerged as she grew up in the “City of Bridges,” Pittsburgh, PA.  When she was searching for a volunteer opportunity that focused on economic development, RiverLink was the perfect match.

“I enjoyed my time with RiverLink because RiverLink has a proven track record of improving our watershed in ways that advance the economic development of our communities,” Barb explains. “I was thrilled to be able to contribute to such an effective and results-oriented organization that focuses on two areas of great interest to me — job creation and the environment.”

JAN PHILLIPS – Jan Phillips, a.k.a. French Broad River Mermaid, exemplifies the definition of RiverLove. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill is the mid- 70’s, she moved to Asheville and began a lif long love affair with the French Broad River. Preferring a “beneath the surface” or “all hands on deck” workhorse role, she has been instrumental in creating and administering a marketing plan for RiverFest and The Anything That Floats Parade, securing musicians and performers and coordinating with artists to develop eye-catching posters and banners for the Anything That Floats Parade. Along with her husband, Jim Howe, a.k.a. French Broad River Merman, they have provided on -site photography for RiverMusic and RiverFest events, as well as, designing, building and installing frames for banners used in promoting RiverLink.

Always an enthusiastic, creative and dedicated supporter of RiverLink’s mission, Jan has recently designed a tee shirt, “French Broad Mermaids Go With the Flow” with plans to donate 10 percent of future sales to RiverLink in support of our ongoing work to ensure the river is kept clean and accessible to all for generations to come. Because everyone knows, mermaids, like fish, thrive in clean waters.

“Whether canoeing, tubing or camping, biking and hiking along its banks, the river always nourished and renewed me,” Jan says. “Several years ago, I found that I wanted to give back in some way to the river that had given me so much and chose RiverLink as the organization where I felt I could be of service.


RiverBusiness Award

Presented to new businesses on the river that conform with the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay Plan

RiverLink RiverBusiness AWARDS 2015

Each year the RiverLink board of directors recognizes river friendly businesses that have through their standard operating practices contributed to the health and well being of the French Broad River watershed as a destination to live, learn, work and play. Previous winners include the Phil Mechanic Studios, artist John Payne, The Asheville Brewers Alliance, AvL Technologies and a host of other companies that have been good stewards of the environment and operated successful business that have helped protect and promote the French Broad River.

In 2016,  RiverLink was proud to recognize the following diverse businesses as contributors to the popularity, protection, and sustainability of the French Broad River.

The ByWater 

The ByWater has become a favorite meeting place for everyone. Whether you are wearing a business suit or a bathing suit, brought your dog or left her at home, kids of all ages love sitting on the banks of the French Broad River at the ByWater on Riverside Drive. According to Karen Cragnolin, former Executive Director, “The ByWater is a great equalizer, much like the river itself. Its a very democratic destination for our entire community and the larger community has responded to its vibe. I love to see multi-generational folks celebrating a birthday sitting next to a young couple with a dog and a man in a suit and a tie sitting next to someone who just pulled their paddle board out of the river. The ByWater is further proof that the river belongs to everyone and everyone loves the French Broad.”

Roots is a local success story on every level. Located in a small building in the River Arts District Roots is a locally grown business that in addition to making delicious traditional hummus makes hummus out of every conceivable vegetable combination from lima beans to red peppers. For Asheville foodies its also very important that all Roots Hummus treats are certified non GMO, vegan and gluten free. Roots business has grown expediently and is now distributed in select markets across the USA. According to Karen Cragnolin, former Executive Director, “Roots is a constant partner with RiverLink. They feed our 2,700 volunteers all year long. Most times the owner and employees will read our newsletter and anticipate our needs by delivering hummus to our offices for an upcoming event.”

The Biltmore Estate & Winery 

Western North Carolina just wouldn’t be western North Carolina without the Biltmore Estate and Winery. Not only is the house the largest privately owned house in the USA, but it’s where the first school of forestry began and sustainability has always been in the forefront of operations. Today when you drive past the estate on I-40 you can see the acres of solar panel fields that help fuel their operations. Much of the food served on the Estate in their numerous restaurants is grown on the Estate. The Estate uses best management practices and a combination of traditional and the latest technology to control erosion and run off into the rivers. According to Karen Cragnolin, former Executive Director, “The 10 or so miles of the French Broad that flow through the Estate are easy to spot from the river because the riparian buffer along the Estate is in such great condition. For all the times the last 30 years I have been on and around the river I have never known of any erosion sloughing off the estate and into the river. The Biltmore Estate has a unique and enviable tradition of being extremely conscious property owners and river stewards. They help establish the standard for being good stewards of our resources as good business practices.”


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"The French Broad River is the third oldest river in the world."

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