By Lauren Hooks
Woodfin – It was a Wednesday afternoon (October 2) and many people who just wanted to go home after completing the hump day chose to detour to Woodfin for a little get-together held by RiverLink at the French Broad River Academy Boys’ Campus.
The event was to spread the word and movement forward in the building of a whitewater wave in the French Broad River. RiverLink has been engineering a wave that will not only be environmentally friendly, but economically advantageous to Woodfin and surrounding areas. Other cities that have created whitewater waves have seen exponential growth in capital, as the wave becomes a tourist attraction. Due to the energy of the French Broad, the wave will be strong enough to be used year-round!
“Tonight’s event is really to celebrate the Greenway/Blueway with all the partners,” said Garret Artz, executive director of RiverLink. “We’re really just building awareness of the project.” He went on to say, “The money raised here will support furthering the Woodfin Greenway/Blueway. It will really go to the support we need to make it happen, so it’s a great cause.”
Many people have asked questions concerning the environmental impact and RiverLink has considered the engineering of the wave heavily. Once construction begins, the water will be channeled through one half of the river, enabling the teams to insert concrete. Once this dries, they will do the same with the other side of the river. This ensures that no water is lost and no cement or dirt ends up in the river.
Engineers have also created a way for wildlife to easily swim back and forth through the wave with no impact. The plan is for the wave to endure a two-foot drop, which will allow for kayak and paddler events.
The engineers have also considered tubing and have planned for a bypass that will also work as a beginner wave for those seeking to learn to navigate whitewater. Scott Shipley, former Olympian and world champion of kayaking, conducted the feasibility study for the whitewater wave.
He believes that this wave will “function naturally and bring a recreational unit to the area.” Riverside Park will be expanded to accommodate the wave. Woodfin mayor Jerry Vehaun stated that they would be “working through winter to create the park.” Amanda Edwards, a commissioner of Buncombe County District 2, commented that the wave would promote
The cost of the project is 18 million dollars, and 13.5 million has been raised. Connect Buncombe, an organization that supports and encourages the implementation of Greenways and Trail Master Plan, presented RiverLink with $5,000 at the fundraiser to help with the construction of the wave.
Asheville GreenWorks was also present at the event and is working hard to keep the French Broad clean. They have collaborated to invent the “Trash Trout,” a floating device that catches trash. The device has no netting, so that wildlife is safe from being caught.
The “Trash Trout” placed in Hendersonville has worked to catch 3,800 pounds of floating trash. They plan to put a junior “Trash Trout” in Town Branch, an area of the French Broad in downtown Asheville.