Join us in celebrating these visionaries and if you are able, please consider making a gift in honor of an incredible woman in your life!
A pathfinder, a groundbreaker, a storyteller—Wilma Dykeman was a pioneer for the river. She called us all to action with the empowering words in her 1955 book The French Broad.
“Because, just as the river belongs to no one, it belongs to everyone—and everyone is held accountable for its health and condition.”
She believed that protecting water quality wasn’t just for the sake of altruism but that it also had economic implications. Her vision paved the way for environmental leaders Jean Webb and Karen Cragnolin to launch RiverLink as the first regional nonprofit spearheading the sustainable river effort.
Wilma Dykeman was a mighty force who would have been 100 on May 20. We ask you to join us in celebrating her life, her impacts, and her legacy.
Jean Webb is an Asheville native, a passionate river advocate and one of the proud founders of RiverLink. She was the first Chairman of the French Broad River Foundation (FBRF), a four county nonprofit that promoted better river access and improved water quality. Jean was also involved in the French Broad River Planning Committee, which, along with the foundation, morphed into RiverLink.
Thanks to trailblazers like her and people like you, the French Broad River is now the thriving heartbeat of Western North Carolina drawing families and tourists, businesses, and outdoor enthusiasts to its banks.
RiverLink honored Jean and her transformative leadership by creating Jean Webb Park on Riverside Drive in 1989, thus opening the first riverside park in Asheville since 1916.
The RiverLink story would not exist without the vision, passion and persistence of Karen Cragnolin who served as the founding Executive Director for an incredible 30 years.
Karen championed the French Broad River’s restoration by planning healthful greenspaces, public access, and economic opportunities. Her years of leadership and the commitment of allies like you saw the birth of RiverLink and the acquisition and restoration of the former EDACO junkyard for the future Karen Cragnolin Park (named in honor of her 25th anniversary as Executive Director).
Although Karen is now retired from her role as RiverLink's Executive Director her passion is carried on by the staff, volunteers and community members who continue to support clean water and river revitalization.
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