December Monthly Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Your passion and support for the French Broad River watershed is an inspiration as we near the end of what has been a unique and challenging year. 

In addition to celebrating you and your commitment to the river, I want to take a moment to express gratitude for our board of directors, many of whom give countless hours of their time, work and wisdom. I also want to celebrate our staff, who have adapted and grown in their respective roles, despite the external challenges of the pandemic. They, along with the board of directors, are passionate about facilitating the next generation of river stewards, pursuing critical water quality initiatives, and protecting land along our streams and rivers.

I recently reviewed a presentation by Dewitt Jones, a National Geographic photographer and motivational speaker. His message, to “Celebrate What is Right with the World” was an important reminder that, despite the many challenges we as a nation and world face, there is still a lot of good to celebrate.

With that in mind I speak on behalf of all of us here at RiverLink in wishing you the happiest of holidays. May we all find reasons (big or small) to celebrate.

Garrett Artz, Executive Director

Program Updates

Water Quality

We’re excited to announce that we are the recipient of two grants that will help fund our water quality initiatives in the coming year! A Pigeon River Fund grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina will help us develop an Adopt-A-Storm Drain program that will tackle pollution from stormwater runoff. The City of Asheville is a partner, and the project will be piloted in the Central Asheville Watershed. The North Carolina Land and Water Fund (formerly the Clean Water Management Trust Fund) has awarded RiverLink an innovative stormwater grant to design stormwater control measures for steep slope areas. Blue Earth Engineering and Lenoir-Rhyne University will be partners with us on this project.
Both projects will be well underway in spring 2021. Stay tuned for more details!

Environmental Education

Just before Thanksgiving we joined Southside Rising and some fellow environmental organizations at the Southside Community Garden to provide food and family friendly activities before the holiday. Our Education staff was there to talk with community members about the Central Asheville Watershed Plan and how it would impact their neighborhood. While the adults were busy discussing the watershed plan, kids were making and decorating rain gauges from recycled soda bottles so they could collect weather data from their own homes. It was wonderful to connect with such an engaged community and we’re excited to continue to collaborate with the Southside neighborhood in the future!

Land Conservation

This past Saturday was our first workday in Karen Cragnolin Park with our new volunteer group: the KC Krew! The group focused on removing invasive vines, like porcelain berry and Japanese honeysuckle, that were growing on native trees. We’ll be hosting these workdays twice a month for the foreseeable future. If you’re interested in joining the KC Krew email for more information.

Other News

Creature of the Month

Recent water testing conducted by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission along the Swannanoa River indicated the presence of DNA for mudpuppies and hellbenders. Both of these giant salamanders were once common through most of the mid-eastern US, but populations have been in steep decline due to impaired water quality. Mudpuppies are usually grey or dark brown, with spots and blotches along their back and undersides. They also have red, feathery gills on the sides of their heads. These awesome creatures can grow over a foot in length! Hellbenders are generally brown or orange, and average a foot in length, though some have been recorded up to two feet long!

Share Your Voice!

The City of Asheville is updating the City’s Greenway (G), Accessibility (A), and Pedestrian (P) Plans. The combined plan, known as “Close the GAP”, will be the City’s plan to update and expand the network of accessible sidewalks and greenways in our community. Please take the general Close the GAP survey and ADA Transition Plan survey (if you have a disability) and be a part of this exciting planning effort!

The River Needs You Now More Than Ever

There’s Still Time!

If you haven’t donated to our End of Year Appeal yet there is still time! Remember, your gift does so much! From providing interactive stream lessons to local kids to removing pollutants and sediment from our waterways to protecting critical riverside land, you can be assured that your generosity is directly impacting our watershed.