Riverlink touts 2012 accomplishments in holiday greeting

Full announcement from RiverLink:

Santa takes to the waters of the French Broad to visit good little boys and girls across the watershed. Will he land near your house?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at RiverLink — our staff, our board and our wonderful volunteers. Thanks for making 2012 a productive year working together with our 300 collaborating organizations and partners to make the French Broad River Watershed swimmable, fishable and drinkable now and into the future.

We wish you a New Year filled with hope, good health, joy, and peace of mind. Thanks to you it has been a wonderful year. Here are some highlights:

We empowered 1644 volunteers to put in 2800-plus hours, collecting 744 bags of trash, 271 tires and an assortment of TVs, toilets, mattresses, hubcaps, toys, and other debris.

We did MAJOR work at Karen Cragnolin Park. Not only did we donate an easement across the front of the property for brand new sidewalks, we also started phytoremediation on the land. Phytoremediation is a technique that uses nature’s healing properties (plants) to clean up contaminated soils

We partnered with local micro-breweries to host the annual Winter Warmer Beer Festival. The brewers donated $2,500 and we directed that money to the Broadway greenway

We hosted our 5th annual “Voices of the River: Art and Poetry Contest. Using all of their senses, students observe their watershed and create a piece of art or poetry based on topics such as fish and wildlife; boating and recreation; pollution and trash; geography; culture and history; water and the hydrologic cycle, or any relevant topic that students wish to address.

We co-sponsored two events in April: The River Management Society conference entitled “From Intimate Creeks to the Infinite Sea” and the 3rd annual French Broad River Classique Canoe and Kayak Race.

We were happy to transform the old tire store at 704 Riverside Drive and welcome the our new tenants, Asheville Adventure Rentals. AAR is a full-service gear rental, retail, travel and instruction company. High-quality rental and retail inventory includes whitewater, recreational and touring boats,
Stand-Up Paddleboards, fishing gear, and camping essentials.

We sponsored community dialogues with the neighborhoods around Amboy Road and the developer who is working on a project at the corner of Amboy Road and Riverview.

We raised $25,000 from the Pigeon River Fund to install the Best Management Practices or BMP’s along the greenway that will help to control the erosion and sediment. With all the money raised thus far we only need another $42,000 to get the old Health Adventure section of greenway and BMP’s installed.

We hosted RiverMUSIC throughout the summer. We kicked off our series of performances and events at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza with a live theatre performance by the Warren Wilson College Theatre Department. The “Swannanoa River Play” took anecdotes and stories directly from Swannanoa Valley residents and mixed in music to create a half-hour performance. Over the summer we welcomed, Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds with special guests The Krektones and The Mad Tea; Sanctum Sully with special guests Bobby Miller and The Virginia Daredevils; The 42nd Street Jazz Band; Sirius B. with special guests The Blood Gypsies. We finished off the concert season with a Purveyors of Funk Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band with special guests The Fritz.

We celebrated the river at the 13th annual RiverFest at French Broad River Park. We were pleased to announce that Sierra Nevada as our title sponsor and the Asheville Adventure Rentals, Navitat Canopy Adventures, Carolina Mountains Credit Union, a division of Self-Help Credit Union, Glazer Architecture, PA., and Happy Body Studio and RC Cola also helped to sponsor RiverFest this year.

We enjoyed another year of our world famous Anything that Floats Parade during RiverFest.

We incorporated environmental education, river recreation and service learning during SUMMER CAMP! At camp, RiverLink works to:
Provide young citizens of the French Broad River watershed an in-depth, hands-on educational experience about their environment;
Empower campers to be lifelong watershed stewards by educating them on the issues facing our rivers and watersheds, and providing concrete examples of what can be done;

Inspire campers to make community service an integral part of their student and adult lives.

We hired long-time artist resident of the river Heinz Kossler to create some handmade tiles for the new sidewalk that will surround one of our properties The Warehouse Studios at 170 Lyman Street. The city installed the sidewalk using granite curbstones that were removed from the river area when they asphalted the street most times right over the granite and the old trolley tracks

We received funding for an all-inclusive online interactive map for the French Broad River camping and paddle trail. Make sure to get in touch with us if you want to be included on this map.

We welcomed new Board members — Barb Korb, retired marketing and operations director for AT&T; Mike Sule, founder and executive director of Asheville on Bikes; Paul Dismukes, community volunteer who works with Habitat for Humanity, GreenWorks and Rotary; and Peter Sprague, an executive with Ingles Market and lifetime volunteer with Boy Scouts of America. Incidentally, Peter was one of RiverLink’s first volunteers way back in 1987!

We spent time with close friends at the annual Friends of the River dinner. Our speaker this year was Ken Grossman, president of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

We dedicated a new section of Broadway greenway.

We taught water-related lessons to approximately 4,000 children ages K-12.

We celebrated the life and legacy of Wilma Dykeman by installing three new information kiosks at our Sculpture & Performance Park on Riverside Drive. It was such a joy to hear her youngest son, Jim, describe his mom’s legacy and a new effort to preserve and perpetuate it. Guests were also able to meet Sharon Fahrer, president of History@Hand, and songwriter and singer Laura Boosinger.

We showed our love for the Swannanoa River at Swannanoa RiverFest with river cleanups and a ton of Swannanoa fun with Warren Wilson College students and staff.

We hosted a volunteer appreciation party at Dave Russell’s Avant Garden.

We made a big difference during NC’s BIG SWEEP, collecting over 90 bags of trash and 13 tires from a 15-mile stretch of the French Broad River.

We had a very productive meeting with our Secretary of Tourism and the head of the Community Foundation from the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

We also had a two-day visit with Friendship Force folks from the Maldives in October. Do you know that by law the buffer around any water body — lake, river, stream — is a mandatory 150 feet in Moldova! We love sharing our projects and exchanging information with visitors from overseas.

We are continuing to raise funds for the Broadway Greenway at the former Health Adventure site. One of our fundraiser was held at the home of Jo and Kevin Hogan in Montford and another one was in cooperation with the Asheville Track Club Thomas Wolfe 8K run.

We connected with the community groups. This year’s Leadership Asheville Seniors Class adopted our labyrinth as their project and have installed a mediation bench and are working with us to spruce up the whole area.

We were voted The Best Environmental Group for the 7th year in a row in the Mountain Xpress. Thank you so much, Western North Carolina.

We braved a cold and wet Sunday to celebrate future greenways at Hominy Creek and at the old Health Adventure site on Broadway. These events raised over $3,500 towards implementing new greenway access corridors!

We announced the recipients of the 2012 RiverBusiness Awards: The Asheville Brewers Alliance, The Self-Help Credit Union, The Montford Neighborhood Association, PSNC Energy, Sundance Power and FLS Energy. These wonderful river-friendly companies have made lasting contributions to the entire community making our watershed a better place to live, work and play for everyone.

We announced our CriticaLink award winners for 2012. CriticaLinks are non-board members who through their extraordinary volunteer efforts have helped make the French Broad River watershed a better place for everyone to live, work and play. We are proud to honor Margie Eblen, Dr. Robert Quayle, Rob & Bess Baird, Mary Anne Worthingham, and Terry & Russ Robertson.

We received funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund to help New Belgium Brewing Co. install BMP’S and restore a sub-watershed of the French Broad River. New Belgium is going above and beyond the city of Asheville’s storm water ordinance as part of this new brewery effort to recover an old landfill and bring economic vitality to our community.

We have a new trademark — WaterRICH — a residential program designed to help homeowners and renters manage storm water and erosion on their property. We received a really wonderful thank you letter from Ira Bernstein for helping Ira implement his dream of installing a rain garden at his Montford home.

We also installed 3 additional storm water features constructed for properties in the WaterRICH Program, conducted 8 WaterRICH Property installations and Certified 32 WaterRICH Consultations

We helped attract the funding for the $600,000 federal highway administration road study for the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay that has been adopted.

We had a good old-fashioned oyster roast in Marshall with over 300 people and great music. Our host was Rob Pulleyn who bought the old Marshall high school building on Blannahasset Island and turned it into Marshall High Studios, an artist enclave.

We teamed up with another non-profit to develop an online interactive water quality game designed specifically for the French Broad River watershed. This is another way we are seeking to reach children of all ages and – surprise surprise – reward them for their knowledge.

We were recipients of the sale at an art show at Asheville Adventure Rentals by local artist, Maryanne Pappano, who has created a series of installations reflecting our work to improve the French Broad River.

Peace and Joy in 2012,

Karen, Melinda, Dave, Nancy, Nikki and Jess


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