RiverLink promotes the environmental and economic vitality of the French Broad River and its watershed.
A Note From the Executive Director
Dear Friends,

Thank you for supporting the transformation of our watershed! The contemporary changes we see on the Asheville Riverfront were once just a bold vision described in words and renderings. That vision has now come to life and is the foundation for where we are today and where we are headed over the next decade, the 20’s! Your support made it happen, we could not have done this important work without you.

The next decade holds substantial promise that we will continue to accelerate the River’s rebirth through our proven process of experience, learn and conserve . We are committed to our education, outreach, and land & water conservation programs. Our focus extends beyond the Asheville area to other communities, including Woodfin, and will eventually encompass the headwaters in Rosman, to Hot Springs in Madison County.

Your support prepares RiverLink for this new decade of change and growth as we expand our programs to include the Karen Cragnolin Park and Woodfin Greenway and Blueway capital programs. We are excited to announce that we are now a team of 10 as we welcome Laila Johnston to our staff as Development Manager. We're also happy to welcome three new Americorps Project Conserve Members, Sarah Clement, Hallie Graves, and Anna Miller .

Special thanks to all who were able to celebrate the Woodfin Greenway and Blueway Project at our Catch the Wave fundraiser on October 2. We had over 350 people come out and enjoy great food, drinks and community, and with your support we raised over $17,000 dollars! With your continued and growing engagement we expect to see the tagline "let's build it!" change to "it's happening!" in the next year. Join us for a volunteer workday on November 23 to clean up the land next to the Beaverdam Creek on the future greenway. Sign up here .

Thanks for being a part of the River revitalization movement and for making our French Broad River communities better places to live!


Garrett and the RiverLink Team

PS- Our last bus tour of the year is scheduled for November 7th. This is a great opportunity to learn about the history of the French Broad River and to support river revitalization efforts. Sign up for the tour here .
Economic Impact Study Funded
We are excited to announce that RiverLink has received a Focus Area Grant on behalf of the French Broad River Partnership from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina that will fund an Economic Impact Study of the value of clean water in our 8-county French Broad River Watershed. This will support efforts of the 70+ partners across business, nonprofit and government organizations to establish economic data on the value of the River to the regional economy. The award was for $45,000 and was matched for an equal share of $10,000 by the Ecology Wildlife Foundation and Duke Energy . Dr. Steve Ha of Western Carolina University will lead the study and will be supported by volunteers from the student body and our partner organizations. The study is expected to be complete in early fall 2020. Special thanks to all of our partners who made this happen!
Environmental Education Program
Our RiverRATS Program is off to a great start this year. We have already educated 650 students at 8 different schools , and we look forward to all the upcoming opportunities to engage with our future river stewards!
Photo courtesy of Buncombe County Schools Communications. Students at Estes Elementary School engage in stream lessons with RiverLink staff.
Become a Volunteer Educator with our
RiverRATS Program
Are you interested in working with youth? Do you have a passion for fostering our next generation of river stewards ?

If so please check out our free volunteer educator training program, offered through May 2020. RiverLink staff will teach you about aquatic ecosystems, the physical structures of streams and water chemistry. Once you've completed the training and been cleared by a background check, you'll be ready to come with us to schools and assist with lessons.

The next volunteer educator training is on November 9th, Click the link below to
sign up now!
Watershed Resources- RAD Watershed
Restoration Plan
We are very excited to announce the creation of the River Arts District Watershed Restoration Plan ! The Plan will investigate and find solutions to water quality issues within three streams that originate near downtown Asheville and flow through the River Arts District. The streams —Town Branch (aka Nasty Branch), Bacoate Branch, and an unnamed tributary—are all severely impaired and empty into a commonly utilized section of the French Broad River.

"There are many benefits to addressing water quality issues within the River Arts District watershed that include improved habitat for the aquatic wildlife that live in these streams, and a healthier environment for the long-term residents of surrounding neighborhoods and visitors to this vibrant community. With help from stakeholders and community partners, we can create a restoration plan that will ultimately benefit us all."
-Renee Fortner, RiverLink Water Resources Manager

Community input on the project is important, so please take a few moments to complete the short survey at the link below.
The year-long study will result in a nine-element watershed restoration plan that RiverLink and partners can use to guide their work to improve water quality in the French Broad River and its tributaries.

The project is funded by generous grants from the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Pigeon River Fund . RiverLink has partnered with the City of Asheville on the project and has hired a consultant team led by Blue Earth Planning, Engineering & Design with staff from Wildlands Engineering , Penrose Environmental , Ecosystem Services , Headwater Environmental , Sitework Studios and Frontwater Geo + Planning +Design .
Land Conservation Program
Our staff members were excited to attend the three day Land Trust Alliance Rally in Raleigh, NC over the weekend.
An important part of RiverLink's membership and accreditation as a Land Trust is to pursue best practices in nonprofit conservation management.

A diversity of topics were addressed at the various workshops and seminars, including  a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion challenges within our communities and their connection to land conservation and water quality, which is an important focal point for all of RiverLink's programs.
Above: RiverLink's Land Protection Manager RJ Taylor met with Andrew Bowman,
director of the Land Trust Alliance.
Welcome New RiverLink Staff!
We are thrilled to announce that Laila Johnston joined the RiverLink team at the end of September as our new Development Manager. She brings over ten years of experience in water resources , fund development, and conservation to the position.

Prior to RiverLink, Laila spent five years with American Rivers as an Associate Director in coastal Carolina working on riverside land protection and clean drinking water issues primarily on the Waccamaw and Pee Dee Rivers. Originally a Texas native from Austin, she has lived all over the southeast receiving a BA in International Affairs and Economics from Florida State University and a Masters in Public and International Affairs from Virginia Tech.

On her downtime you can find her hanging out with her three dogs or tracking down the next great craft beer.
Please welcome our new AmeriCorps members Anna Miller, Education Coordinator, Sarah Clement, Watershed Resources Coordinator, and Hallie Graves, Public Engagement Coordinator. They all come to us with impressive environmentally focused schooling and employment backgrounds, and their enthusiasm and passion for this work is easy to see. We're so excited that they have joined our team!

Read their full bios here.
We also want to welcome Harmony Kunst, our new intern for the fall semester. A senior at Nesbitt Discovery Academy, and her school's representative for Youth for Environmental Stewardship, she's interested in pursuing a career in Environmental Sciences at North Carolina State University. After moving to Asheville in 2008, she often spent her free time as a child exploring the great outdoors; now, she wants to help the youth of her community learn about the vast natural beauty that Asheville has to offer. Welcome to the team Harmony!
Donor Highlight
We would like to take a moment to honor Laura Webb, one of our longtime RiverLink supporters.

Laura is President and founder of Webb Investment Services, a locally owned, wealth management and investment consulting practice that has been providing support to successful individuals, particularly women, in Western North Carolina since 1995.

Laura is a 3rd generation native of Asheville. She likes to say she is “part of the lucky gene pool” as community involvement comes naturally to her. Her mother has a park (The Jean Webb Park) named after her in recognition of her dedication and commitment to cleaning up the French Broad River. Her great-grandfather, Charles A Webb, was instrumental in forming the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"The French Broad River corridor had been a vital but neglected part of Western North Carolina for years. Riverlink helped successfully spearhead the effort to make the French Broad River a vital place to live, work and play. I got involved when I first moved back home almost 25 years ago,supporting my mother who was very invested in the river’s revitalization. It is so exciting to see the progress that is being made and how the river is now an attraction, not a distraction for the local economy." -Laura Webb

Thanks for your continued support of RiverLink and the revitalization of the French Broad River Watershed! We could not do this important work without the support of our vibrant and engaged community.
170 Lyman Street
Asheville, NC 28803