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Economic Impact of the
FRENCH BROAD RIVER
Presented by the French Broad River Partnership
frenchbroadriver.org
First, a little about FBRP
The French Broad River Partnership is a
consortium of 50+ conservation,
governmental, and business entities in the
eight WNC county region of the river
watershed.
Mission
To maintain and improve stream health within the French Broad
River Watershed for environmental and economic benefits.
Vision
That broad‐based interests work collaboratively to ensure the
French Broad River Watershed serves as a source of drinking water
and recreation while supporting biodiversity, sustainable
agriculture, forestry, and economic growth.
Guiding Principles
We recognizesustainable economic development and the pursuit of improved
water quality are mutually beneficial goals.
We work collaboratively, engaging the skills and resources of diverse stakeholders
to achieve a greater positive impact.
We operate with integrity and transparency to define challenges to watershed
health and resolve them through innovation and stakeholder commitment,
resulting in a lasting impact on the river.
We engage communities because knowledgeempowersall to consider the health
of the river in daily and long‐termdecisions.
THE WATERSHED
RECREATIONAL & ECOLOGICAL RESOURCE
260-325
Million Years Old
Flows For
219 MILES
Begins Near
ROSMAN
Watershed Encompasses
8 COUNTIES
JOINS HOLSTON
To Create the Tennessee, Ohio, &
Mississippi Rivers
Basin Encompasses
2830 MILES2
FAST FACTS
PIGEON
RIVER
Cataloochee Creek
PIGEON
RIVER
Richland Creek
Jonathans Creek
East & West Forks
UPPER FRENCH
BROAD RIVER
Davidson River
Mills River
Swannanoa River
SUB-WATERSHEDS
NOLICHUCKY
RIVER
North Toe River
South Toe River
Cane River
Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
RECREATIONAL
RESOURCE
MAJORITY OF
PISGAH NATIONAL
FOREST
ALL OF
DUPONT STATE
FOREST
75% OF LAND
AREA IS FORESTED
25% OF THE
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS
NATIONAL PARK
ECOLOGICAL
RESOURCE
MUDPUPPY & HELLBENDER
SALAMANDERS
BOG & EASTERN SPINY
SOFTSHELL TURTLES
RARE FISH SPECIES &
ENDANGERED
FRESHWATER MUSSELS
PINK BEDS
MOUNTAIN VALLEY BOG
Photo Credit: Riverlink
THE STUDY
DATA COLLECTION & METHODOLOGY
INCREASE PUBLIC
UNDERSTANDING
WHY STUDY THE ECONOMIC IMPACT
OF THE FRENCH BROAD WATERSHED?
SHOW BENEFITS IN
QUANTITATIVE TERMS
INCREASE AWARENESS
AMONG STAKEHOLDERS
HELP COMMUNITY
PLAN FOR FUTURE
STUDY DESIGN
➡ French Broad River Partnership
commissioned a study led by Dr. Steve Ha
of WCU in 2019
➡ Funded by the Community Foundation of
Western North Carolina, Duke Energy, and
Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund
➡ Surveyed local river users, visitors, and
businesses in the eight-county region
➡ Applied statistical analyses in concert with
established economic procedures
➡ Interviewed key local stakeholders to
provide additional qualitative perspectives
Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
DATA COLLECTION
● Identify businesses by NAICS codes in the
eight-county region
● Survey visitors/river users at river access
points, community spaces, and festivals
● COVID-19 severely limits public events and
face-to-face data collection. Switch to online
surveys for businesses and river users
● COVID-19 protocols relax and some public
activities resume
● Survey visitors/river users at festivals & public
gatherings, through river-related outfitters,
and on Partnership websites and newsletters
● End data collection with 453 valid visitor and
111 valid business survey responses
Spring
2020
Spring
2021
Fall
2021
Photo Credit: Headwaters Outfitters
STUDY
METHODOLOGY
THE FINDINGS
ECONOMIC IMPACT OF FRENCH BROAD WATERSHED
“The River section through
Asheville, both on and off the
water is recognized as a unique
urban outdoor river experience
enjoyed by locals and tourists
alike. Businesses have
recognized this surge and are
transforming the river corridor to
meet the demand of a growing
river-based economy. ” -William
Irving, Former President and
CEO, Nantahala Outdoor Center
6.9 MILLION
River-Influenced Visitors
Annually
WHAT’S AT RISK
$2.7 BILLION
Annual Visitor
Spending
$3.8 BILLION
Economic Impact
$273 MILLION
Annual Federal Taxes &
$234M State & Local Taxes
“We appreciate the river as
the defining characteristic of
the entire region. It is
imminently connected to
everything... agriculture and
quality of life. It is a very
visible connector in our
community.” -Charlie Jackson,
Appalachian Sustainable
Agriculture Project
WHAT’S AT RISK
38,554 JOBS
Created or Maintained
Annually
$2.4 BILLION
Existence Value
$585 MILLION
Bequest Value
$2.9 BILLION
Environmental Value
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
“New assets like the Greenway in the River Arts
District and the one in development in Woodfin all
start with the river as the basis for development
and enjoyment of the community. The river draws
people. It adds life and energy like no other feature
of the area.” -Leah Wong Ashburn, President/CEO,
Highland Brewing Company
“We make our living off the river and especially
the tributaries. It is the first quality trout water in
the SE US close to major cities.” -Kevin Howell,
Davidson River Outfitters
“The river is the connector to life in Asheville. We
come back to the river to relax. Riverfront sites
draw people of all backgrounds back to nature.” -
Matt Godfrey, Outdoor Gear Builders Association
Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
NEXT STEPS
➡ Share findings with river-invested
groups & individuals
➡ Expand awareness among the
public about the river’s value
➡ Continue research into other
sectors (forestry, agriculture, etc.)
➡ Define multi-year action plan to
address primary pollutants of
concern
Photo Credit: Headwaters Outfitters
Presented by the
French Broad River Partnership
frenchbroadriver.org
THANK YOU TO…
Dr. Steve Ha and the research team at
Western Carolina University
The French Broad River Partnership
Business & Recreation Work Group
The Community Foundation of Western
North Carolina
Duke Energy
Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund

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French Broad River Economic Impact Study

  • 1. Economic Impact of the FRENCH BROAD RIVER Presented by the French Broad River Partnership frenchbroadriver.org
  • 2. First, a little about FBRP
  • 3. The French Broad River Partnership is a consortium of 50+ conservation, governmental, and business entities in the eight WNC county region of the river watershed.
  • 4. Mission To maintain and improve stream health within the French Broad River Watershed for environmental and economic benefits. Vision That broad‐based interests work collaboratively to ensure the French Broad River Watershed serves as a source of drinking water and recreation while supporting biodiversity, sustainable agriculture, forestry, and economic growth.
  • 5. Guiding Principles We recognizesustainable economic development and the pursuit of improved water quality are mutually beneficial goals. We work collaboratively, engaging the skills and resources of diverse stakeholders to achieve a greater positive impact. We operate with integrity and transparency to define challenges to watershed health and resolve them through innovation and stakeholder commitment, resulting in a lasting impact on the river. We engage communities because knowledgeempowersall to consider the health of the river in daily and long‐termdecisions.
  • 6. THE WATERSHED RECREATIONAL & ECOLOGICAL RESOURCE
  • 7. 260-325 Million Years Old Flows For 219 MILES Begins Near ROSMAN Watershed Encompasses 8 COUNTIES JOINS HOLSTON To Create the Tennessee, Ohio, & Mississippi Rivers Basin Encompasses 2830 MILES2 FAST FACTS
  • 8. PIGEON RIVER Cataloochee Creek PIGEON RIVER Richland Creek Jonathans Creek East & West Forks UPPER FRENCH BROAD RIVER Davidson River Mills River Swannanoa River SUB-WATERSHEDS NOLICHUCKY RIVER North Toe River South Toe River Cane River Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
  • 9.
  • 10. RECREATIONAL RESOURCE MAJORITY OF PISGAH NATIONAL FOREST ALL OF DUPONT STATE FOREST 75% OF LAND AREA IS FORESTED 25% OF THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
  • 11. ECOLOGICAL RESOURCE MUDPUPPY & HELLBENDER SALAMANDERS BOG & EASTERN SPINY SOFTSHELL TURTLES RARE FISH SPECIES & ENDANGERED FRESHWATER MUSSELS PINK BEDS MOUNTAIN VALLEY BOG Photo Credit: Riverlink
  • 12. THE STUDY DATA COLLECTION & METHODOLOGY
  • 13. INCREASE PUBLIC UNDERSTANDING WHY STUDY THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF THE FRENCH BROAD WATERSHED? SHOW BENEFITS IN QUANTITATIVE TERMS INCREASE AWARENESS AMONG STAKEHOLDERS HELP COMMUNITY PLAN FOR FUTURE
  • 14. STUDY DESIGN ➡ French Broad River Partnership commissioned a study led by Dr. Steve Ha of WCU in 2019 ➡ Funded by the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Duke Energy, and Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund ➡ Surveyed local river users, visitors, and businesses in the eight-county region ➡ Applied statistical analyses in concert with established economic procedures ➡ Interviewed key local stakeholders to provide additional qualitative perspectives Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
  • 15. DATA COLLECTION ● Identify businesses by NAICS codes in the eight-county region ● Survey visitors/river users at river access points, community spaces, and festivals ● COVID-19 severely limits public events and face-to-face data collection. Switch to online surveys for businesses and river users ● COVID-19 protocols relax and some public activities resume ● Survey visitors/river users at festivals & public gatherings, through river-related outfitters, and on Partnership websites and newsletters ● End data collection with 453 valid visitor and 111 valid business survey responses Spring 2020 Spring 2021 Fall 2021 Photo Credit: Headwaters Outfitters
  • 17. THE FINDINGS ECONOMIC IMPACT OF FRENCH BROAD WATERSHED
  • 18. “The River section through Asheville, both on and off the water is recognized as a unique urban outdoor river experience enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Businesses have recognized this surge and are transforming the river corridor to meet the demand of a growing river-based economy. ” -William Irving, Former President and CEO, Nantahala Outdoor Center 6.9 MILLION River-Influenced Visitors Annually WHAT’S AT RISK $2.7 BILLION Annual Visitor Spending $3.8 BILLION Economic Impact $273 MILLION Annual Federal Taxes & $234M State & Local Taxes
  • 19. “We appreciate the river as the defining characteristic of the entire region. It is imminently connected to everything... agriculture and quality of life. It is a very visible connector in our community.” -Charlie Jackson, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project WHAT’S AT RISK 38,554 JOBS Created or Maintained Annually $2.4 BILLION Existence Value $585 MILLION Bequest Value $2.9 BILLION Environmental Value
  • 20. WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING “New assets like the Greenway in the River Arts District and the one in development in Woodfin all start with the river as the basis for development and enjoyment of the community. The river draws people. It adds life and energy like no other feature of the area.” -Leah Wong Ashburn, President/CEO, Highland Brewing Company “We make our living off the river and especially the tributaries. It is the first quality trout water in the SE US close to major cities.” -Kevin Howell, Davidson River Outfitters “The river is the connector to life in Asheville. We come back to the river to relax. Riverfront sites draw people of all backgrounds back to nature.” - Matt Godfrey, Outdoor Gear Builders Association Photo Credit: Preserve Communities
  • 21. NEXT STEPS ➡ Share findings with river-invested groups & individuals ➡ Expand awareness among the public about the river’s value ➡ Continue research into other sectors (forestry, agriculture, etc.) ➡ Define multi-year action plan to address primary pollutants of concern Photo Credit: Headwaters Outfitters
  • 22. Presented by the French Broad River Partnership frenchbroadriver.org THANK YOU TO… Dr. Steve Ha and the research team at Western Carolina University The French Broad River Partnership Business & Recreation Work Group The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina Duke Energy Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund