2022 Land Conservation Highlights

100% of Karen Cragnolin Park’s Greenway Phase funded!

Karen Cragnolin Park is an ambitious vision nearly twenty years in the making. Filling a vital link in Asheville’s growing network of recreational greenways and pollinator highways, the first phase of this historic park memorializes legendary French Broad River advocate and RiverLink founding executive director Karen Cragnolin. The Buncombe County Tourism and Development Authority – also called Explore Asheville – joined so many generous supporters to bring Greenway Phase funding across the finish line late last year. 

Explore Asheville’s Tourism Product Development Fund grant will cover more than one third of the project’s costs, which go beyond greenway connection to re-establish essential river habitat, educate visitors, and protect against increasing flood risks. With construction beginning soon and an opening ceremony planned for late Summer of 2023, RiverLink is tremendously grateful for everyone making this honorary community effort possible. 

Visit www.riverlink.org/kcp to learn about Karen Cragnolin Park and get excited to dive much deeper into the natural and cultural heritage of this special place along the French Broad River through on-site, interpretive resources later this year. Please check out www.exploreasheville.com for more on how Buncombe County and the Tourism Product Development Fund empower our regional economy. 

Olivette: RiverLink’s Newest Conservation Easement!

RiverLink is excited to have partnered with Olivette Riverside Community & Farm to protect 16.63 acres of healthy forest, steep slope, and riparian buffer near the French Broad River in northern Buncombe County. 

A new conservation easement, which closed in December 2022, safeguards 450 linear feet along Newfound Creek; two North Carolina Heritage Program-priority species: Eastern Hemlock and Riverbank Wild Rye; and suitable habitat for several other rare and important native species, including the Montane Alluvial Forest and Low Elevation Seep communities.

RiverLink is excited to work with community members and partners to ensure this portion of the 400-acre “agrihood” remains preserved in perpetuity and educate residents on best management practices to support the conservation values that the easement was established to protect.

Aeriel view of the easement boundaries.

About RiverLink’s Land Resources Program: RiverLink is working to be increasingly strategic with its land trust program, which focuses on the protection of land within immediate proximity of the French Broad River and major tributaries. We prioritize the riparian, wetland and floodplain habitats that safeguard water quality, native plants, and wildlife, with communities of endangered, threatened, or rare species being especially important. We are also interested in facilitating projects with opportunities for stream restoration, green stormwater infrastructure, public river access, parks, greenways, education and scenic views.

458 days on the river with outgoing Land Resources Manager Jack Henderson!

For 35 years, RiverLink’s mission has been the waters and watershed of our unique and majestic region. Our accreditation as a land trust is much newer, supporting our work by stewarding the riverlands that feed the water. Jack Henderson, mapmaker extraordinaire, experienced land trust professional, and generally great guy, has been RiverLink’s second Land Resources Manager through important milestones like our new conservation partnership with Olivette Riverside Community & Farm, our expansion of water quality preservation into Henderson County, and the birth of the Karen Cragnolin Park’s Greenway Phase. 

A paddler at heart, Jack is stepping into his dream role as French Broad Paddle Trail and Recreation Manager for Mountain True. We are so grateful for his excellent work to strengthen RiverLink’s Land Resources Program and forge lasting relationships within the communities we serve. Fair winds and following streams, Jack!

Hailing from the same Potomac watershed in Northern Virginia as Jack, RiverLink’s new Land Resources Manager has arrived to carry the torch. Aweed Nyoka is trained in climate science, environmental policy, and organizational sustainability, and derives passion from working towards eco-cultural restoration. He looks forward to promoting and providing equitable river access, and we are excited for him to join our team. Aweed will work closely with RiverLink’s Watershed Resources Manager, Development Manager, and Stewardship Coordinator as the Land Resources Program continues to evolve.