French Broad partners’ float energizes regional efforts

By Bekah Price, RMS Communications Coordinator

A recent partners’ float on Section 9 of the French Broad River was a timely reminder of the power of partnerships as we work towards shared goals on our rivers. We want to thank RMS member Jack Henderson for bringing everyone together (despite delays from Tropical Storm Fred!) and the Nantahala Outdoor Center for providing boats, guides, lunch, and transportation.

Photo by Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan

Our crew of about 20 included river managers and stewards from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), River Management Society, American Whitewater, American Rivers, RiverLink, rafting outfitters, and MountainTrue – including their French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper, and Watauga Riverkeeper.

“We had a great turnout, and I think people really enjoyed learning about the many projects in motion to help manage and protect the French Broad,” said Henderson. “There’s so much happening at each organization, so we hope that by reconnecting and forming new partnerships, people will be able to work creatively together to share information and fund projects on the French Broad.”

As with many rivers, the French Broad is experiencing increasing private and commercial usage. While this is great news for the future of stewardship and advocacy, it simultaneously crowds accesses, stresses relationships between user groups, and increases funding demands for new and existing infrastructure.

In riverside conversations, attendees shared how their organizations are working to address these issues. The French Broad Riverkeeper gave an update on the 140-mile French Broad Paddle Trail and its positive impact on recreation and water quality. Representatives from American Whitewater and USFS shared an overview of potential Wild and Scenic River designations through grassroots campaigns and Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Planning. And at the USFS-managed Stackhouse Boat Launch, staff from the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest and National Forests in North Carolina shared options for improved parking and access infrastructure as well as funding opportunities through the Great American Outdoors Act.

Trips like this are at the core of our purpose at RMS, and it was a pleasure to paddle with everyone!

Photo by Stephen Foy, NOC

Published Oct. 11, 2021

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