RiverLink and Wildlands Engineering have completed a 9-element watershed plan to improve water quality in the Smith Mill Creek Watershed, termed by the Environmental Quality Institute as one of Buncombe County’s most polluted watersheds. RiverLink will host a community presentation of the plan at 6:30 p.m. on October 16th, at the Burton St. Community Center. Jake McLean, with Wildlands Engineering will be presenting the plan.
Smith Mill Creek is formed from three major creeks that originate in the communities of Cowan Cove, McKinnish Cove, and on the flanks of Spivey Mountain. The mainstem flows for 6 miles along New Leicester Hwy and Patton Ave before entering the French Broad River on the west bank a half mile north of the Bowen Bridge.
“Though historically, Smith Mill Creek and its tributaries have been among the most impaired in the region,” says RiverLink’s Executive Director Garrett Artz, “residents in the watershed have donated scores of hours picking up trash along its route.”
Funded by an $80,000 grant from North Carolina’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund, $25,000 from the Pigeon River Fund, and $12,000 in in-kind contributions from the City of Asheville and RiverLink, the plan will focus on cleaning up stream channels and rectifying sources of pollution.
- Specifically, the nine-element plan will: Document the current status of water quality, flooding and related issues in the Smith Mill Creek Watershed
- Enhance and expand a network of partners focused on watershed and social improvements in the Smith Mill Creek Watershed
- Identify opportunities to conduct education, community projects, and larger capital projects to help improve water quality.
RiverLink and partners are currently seeking grant funding for large scale projects proposed in the 9-element plan and working with residents within the watershed to perform stream clean-ups and implement smaller projects, such as rain gardens.
RiverLink is also advocating for the Smith Mill Creek Greenway, which will parallel Patton Ave. and link the West Asheville communities of Falconhurst and Burton St. through city-owned land to the French Broad River. “This will be a boon for residents in the area who like to hike and bike,” Artz says, “and an important element of Asheville’s growing network of river trails.”
RiverLink is a catalyst for improving the economic and environmental vitality of the French Broad River.