By Benjamin Cohn
Woodfin – Wetter conditions have contributed to the erosion of the banks of the French Broad River as it passes through the Town of Woodfin, which has caused some problems at one of the town’s parks, according to town officials. Town Administrator Jason Young spoke to the Tribune regarding the nature of the environmental disruption after the problem was mentioned at the January town meeting.
“The erosion issue down there is obviously a concern to the town,” Young said. “But, we recognize that the French Broad River has been there for quite a long time. In fact, I believe, I’ve read that it’s the fourth oldest active river in the world, and one of the few that flows south to north.
“The truth is, it [the river] will meander from time to time. With the changing weather patterns, our town is getting a lot wetter in recent years than it has been in memory. We’re gonna see more flooding issues,” Young explained.
Data from online weather service Weather Underground revealed an increase in average rainfall over the past several years. According to the site’s weather history, the average rainfall in just the month of January has increased from 2.33 inches in 2014 to 5.21 inches this year.
Young explained further the town’s stance on the problem. “For us, it’s not so much an issue about the water inundating the park, but we are concerned about how it’s eroding the banks. We don’t want to lose our trees along the banks, so we’re in the process of shoring up and trying to buttress that with stone, as an effort to at least slow erosion and, perhaps, catch some silt so we can build that bank back up and protect the root structures of those trees.”
Young told the Tribune that Woodfin’s Public Works Department has been tasked with maintaining the banks in Riverside Park. Johnny Brooks, a representative from the Public Works Department, weighed in.
“It’s just from the flooding,” Brooks said, referring to the source of maintenance issues in the park. “Back in 2003 it flooded like that, so the water actually got up to the parking lot. In spots we did have the sand [deposited from elevated water levels], which we cleaned up along the walking paths.”
Brooks told the Tribune that he and his crew would get out there as soon as possible to finish cleaning and buttressing the damaged banks.
“Hopefully when the ground dries up we’ll go back in there and clean up the rest of it. We’ve had a little bit of erosion on the river banks, which we’ve filled back in with stone. The ground’s so soft now, even standing on it you’ll start sinking a little bit. Just getting equipment out there to get it cleaned up is what’s holding us back right now.”