Outreach and Education Work Group

The Outreach & Education Workgroup’s mission is to support and develop outreach and education efforts to maintain and improve stream health within in the French Broad watershed.

Our long-term goal is to develop and implement a French Broad Outreach Plan

Our short-term goals are:

  • To develop outreach materials
  • To develop a web presence for the Partnership
  • To publish a semi-annual newsletter
  • To carry out the Love Your Watershed project

Love Your Watershed Project

In early 2020, the Outreach & Education Workgroup developed a project proposal called the “Love Your Watershed: Cultivating River Stewards of the French Broad Basin” for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star & Urban Waters Restoration Program.  Our proposal was accepted, and we will be starting work on this project at the end of this year. 

The Love Your Watershed project incorporates three components – on-site riparian forest improvements; site-specific education and interpretive opportunities; and media-based interpretation and education.  On-the-ground conservation benefits include restoring 2 miles of waterways with riparian plantings, improving 5 acres of riparian corridors by removing invasive plants species, and improving aquatic and riparian habitat by removing 4,200 lbs of trash.

Kids in the Creek Lesson. Credit: Gary Peeples

The project would be implemented at eight sites throughout the basin – five on the French Broad River, two in the Pigeon River subwatershed, and one in the Nolichucky River subwatershed.  Each site would have a local host, including Bearwaters Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewing, City of Asheville, Yancey County, and the towns of Waynesville, Marshall, and Rosman.  Each site would serve as a hub for restoration activities and education.  Restoration activities include riparian planting, invasive species eradication, and trash cleanups.  Education stations, such as kiosks, for citizens and visitors would be established.  Outreach materials, such as bumper stickers, posters, and coasters, will be developed and distributed.  We anticipate engaging 250 volunteers, educating 350 students, and reaching 320,000 citizens. 

This project focuses on improving some of the most accessible riverside natural areas – for example, Madison County’s Marshall Island averages 50-200 users every day, with school groups using it every week, yet it is the scene of significant riverbank erosion, to the point it is becoming a hazard.  By focusing on some of these most accessible areas, this project would improve stream health, citizen awareness of stream health issues, and the outdoor experience at places where rivers are most accessible to the public.

Sorting the aquatic bugs students caught. Credit: Gary Peeples

Chairs:

Gary Peeples – US Fish and Wildlife Service, gary_peeples@fws.gov

Andrea Leslie – NC Wildlife Resources Commission, andrea.leslie@ncwildlife.org

Workgroup Members:

Lauren Daniel, NC Department of Environmental Quality

Lindsay Green, Muddy Sneakers

Morgan Harris, Virginia Tech

Jonathan Hartsell, Blue Ridge RC&D

Felix Stith, Blue Ridge RC&D

Sandy Melton, Blue Heron Whitewater

Eric Romaniszyn, Haywood Waterways Association

Interested in joining the Outreach & Education workgroup? Please contact Gary or Andrea for more information.

Interested in joining the French Broad River Partnership? Please visit membership page.