Learn to Love the River

Discover what makes the French Broad River so special and learn about the many ways it connects our community.
Greetings river lovers and welcome to the first issue of our Learn to Love the River series! With all of the uncertainty in the world right now we think it's good to take a moment to reflect on some of the natural splendor we have here in Western North Carolina. We hope that through these emails you will learn something new, be inspired, and feel connected. Each week we'll be sharing resources from around the web, content created by our staff, and information collected from our community. We hope you enjoy!
The Smithsonian on Stream Health
Stream ecosystems are a vital part of our world. There are many connections between these spaces and our urban environments, and our day to day activities can have a significant impact on the health of our waterways. The Smithsonian has put together a wonderful video discussing some of the ways we affect our streams and rivers, and how
we can go about assessing the health of these important environments.
Stream Activity

  • After you watch the video take a few minutes to think about your local stream and write down a few issues that you think affect it's health.

  • If you can do so safely, take a walk to your local stream and try to identify some of the issues you learned about in the video (runoff from roads, stream bank erosion).

  • In the video you learned about some of the creatures that live in streams. What creatures can you find that live in or near your stream? Write down or photograph the ones you find. Do you think they indicate a healthy or an impaired stream? (If you are not able to safely access your local stream do some research on the internet to learn about the creatures that live in your stream).
Build a Watershed at Home
We all live in a watershed! Understanding how watersheds work can show us how connected we all are to the river. A watershed is the area of land that drains into any given body of water. They can be different sizes, with smaller stream watersheds joining together to form the big watersheds of our rivers. PBS has created a guide to build your own watershed at home with your kids, and chances are you already have all of the necessary materials. if you're struggling to figure out how to cover any of the information send us an email and we'll be happy to help you!
A Little Dose of Inspiration
This poem comes from a local high school student who submitted their work for our annual Voices of the River: Art and Poetry contest last year. We've received more fantastic entries this year and will be announcing winners on Earth Day, April 22nd, as part of our virtual celebration.
A heron standing as if time is frozen.
Gentle ripples splash long, thin legs.
Exquisitely-sloped neck shying from its rightful heavens;
Rather waiting for food solemn tranquility.

Empty cans and bottles litter the bank,
Discarded without discernment.
Cigarette butts scattered haphazardly
With no remorse yet endless recourse.

A Hellbender gliding over river rocks,
Enjoying French Broad purity.
Its body curving side-to-side to propel onwards
As its square head take on the clean water's current.

Algal blooms lock fish in darkness with no air.
Warmer water further stresses.
From waste runoff to rising temperatures,
Our actions harm the French Broad's hallmarks.

Delicate beauty threatened by laziness
Like gossamer in a child's hands.
The water, the blood of so many species,
Bleeding from our perpetual wounds.
The iniquity of man's stewardship.
We are not worthy of such beauty as our French Broad.
Despite the havoc already wrought,
We must protect the heron, the Hellbender, and all.

- Gregory C .
Staying connected to the river and each other.

We are thinking of you all in these uncertain times and hope you are staying healthy and safe! Thanks to your generous support we are able to continue our Education, Water Quality and Land Conservation programs, but we couldn't do it without you!