Project Network Project Details

03/01/2005 - 10/01/2007

Organization/s:Jeff Rich, Artist; Riverlink; FBRE; Buncombe Co.
Contact:Jeff Rich
Water Treated:River
Site Description:Other
Project Summary: The French Broad river in Western North Carolina is the third oldest river in the world, behind only the Nile and the New river in Virginia. It is even older than the Appalachian Mountains that surround it.

Throughout the river's more recent history it's been inhabited by man. First by the Connestee Indians whose mounds have been found to date back to 200-500 AD. Then, beginning around 1000AD, by the Cherokee Indians. Most recently in the 18th century the Europeans settled in its floodplain. Since that time the inhabitation on the floodplain of the river has grown tremendously, and with that growth came pollution, which in 1955 had become so bad that Wilma Dykeman, the author of The French Broad, described it as "Too thick to drink and too thin to plow." However, since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972, which put heavy limits on the pollution that industry discharges into the waters of the United States. The river has become much cleaner, and a place that many people use recreationally, and that supports a thriving local ecology. Currently the only major problem that still faces The French Broad watershed is non-point source pollution (typically, diffuse runoff from farms, streets, and yards), which was not addressed in the original Clean Water Act.

This work shows the constant change that occurs within the floodplain of The French Broad due mostly to man's presence, but also because of natural causes such as floods and erosion. Beginning at the headwaters of the French Broad and following the river and its tributaries through Western North Carolina into Tennessee where it joins with the Holston River to form the Tennessee River, this project documents the development and use of the floodplain. By looking at the river itself and the landscape of industry and homes, the work seeks to emphasize the level of sustainability that has been reached within the Watershed of the French Broad River.

This work seeks to continue the tradition started by artists such as Robert Adams and Richard Misrach. A tradition that documents man's influence over the landscape and emphasizes the need for a responsible stewardship of the land. In a basic sense it is a study of man's effect on the landscape, but more specifically, the work provides a document of a specific time and place in the history of this watershed.
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Advice Oferred: Contacts in relation to the French Broad river watershed, photographs of the watershed
Advice Needed: Organizing community awareness events
Volunteer Opportunities: Collaborating on event organization and promotion community awareness of the watershed.

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