Riverkeeper Float Fest 2023

Riverkeeper Float Fest 2023


Riverkeeper Float Fest

Saturday, June 24. Sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Brewery and hosted by River & Earth Adventures.

About the event

This family-friendly event will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at River & Earth Adventures‘ New River Outpost in Todd, NC. Appalachian Mountain Brewery will offer local craft beer, food, and live music. Riverkeeper Float Fest proceeds benefit MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper and help protect clean water in the High Country. For event-related questions, please contact Hannah Woodburn at hannah@mountaintrue.org.

Pre-registration ticket sales end Tuesday, June 20 at 12 p.m. If you do not purchase a ticket online, you will be able to purchase a ticket at the door. Both cash and card are acceptable payment methods. Thank you!


River & Earth Adventures New River Outpost:

6201 Castle Ford Road Todd, NC 28684


Event: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tubing: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Live music: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Nature Walks and Talks: 11-11:30 a.m. and 2-2:30 p.m. 

Fly fishing clinic: 12-12:30 p.m. with Boone’s Fly Shop


  • Payment options: cash or card  
  • Reusable water bottle 
  • Blanket/chair
  • For tubers: sun protection, towel, change of clothes, river shoes/sandals (please no flip flops), bag for spare clothes, dry bag for phone/keys


Shuttle pick-up/drop-off: ASU Peacock Traffic Circle. Shuttles provided by River & Earth Adventures will take attendees directly to the Float Fest location. 

Tubers: a separate tubing shuttle will pick you up at the end of your tubing trip and bring you back to the Float Fest. 

Parking - Shuttles

Free parking will be available in the lots surrounding the shuttle pick-up/drop-off location. We encourage attendees to take advantage of the free shuttle provided by River & Earth Adventures or to have a DD assigned in their group. 

Parking - Outpost

Limited parking is available across the street from River & Earth Adventures in Todd, NC (on the left if coming from HWY 421). 

Join us for the 16th Annual Green Bash!

Join us for the 16th Annual Green Bash!

Join us for the 16th Annual Green Bash!

Get ready for an exciting day full of kayaking trips, waterfall rappelling, treks, cold beer, and good music when the Spring Green Bash — Saluda’s favorite river and block party — returns on May 7!

The whole Green River community is invited to the Spring Green Bash block party at Green River Adventures in downtown Saluda, NC. We’ll enjoy great beer from Oskar Blues Brewing and music by Aaron Burdett. We’ll also announce the winner of the charity raffle for a Liquidlogic Coupe XP kayak, a whitewater kayak valued at $1,000! Proceeds from the raffle benefit MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper –  the protector and defender of the Green River Watershed.

Join us at the Spring Green Bash at Green River Adventures on May 7, 2022, to see if you’re the lucky winner of a Liquidlogic Coupe XP kayak (you do not need to be present to win)! Ticket sales end on May 7, 2022, and tickets may also be purchased at the event. 

Where: Green River Adventures, 111 E. Main Street, Saluda, NC

When: Saturday, May 7, 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

MountainTrue FAQ: Live Staking

MountainTrue FAQ: Live Staking

MountainTrue FAQ: Live Staking

We love live staking here at MountainTrue, as it’s one of the easiest and most effective ways to support native biodiversity and stream bank restoration! This blog hopes to answer many of the frequently asked questions we get about live staking. Most of this information is general, but some is specific to the Watauga Basin and Riverkeeper Program. 

Q: What’s live staking?

Live staking is a method of stream bank repair using native tree cuttings to revegetate the riparian buffer. The riparian buffer consists of trees, shrubs, and grasses alongside stream banks — it plays a crucial role in protecting stream health. The resiliency of riparian buffers is frequently impacted by land use. Activities like mowing to the edge of a stream, cutting down trees to see the water, or new development can negatively impact water quality. By live staking, we can positively and directly impact the overall health of our waterways! 

Q: Where do you get the stakes from?

We get our live stakes from Foggy Mountain Nursery in Lansing, NC — their team harvests the stakes from native tree species, cutting stakes two to three feet long and one-half to two inches thick. While it’s possible to cut the stakes ourselves, we choose to support a fantastic local business and ensure that we’re planting the correct species. We’ve also harvested stakes from our previous live staking sites, where planted stakes have become well established. 

Q: How do you choose where you’ll be planting?

We prioritize local public parks and river accesses because they’re easy to access and directly benefit the public. We’ve frequented Valle Crucis Community Park in Banner Elk, Cove Creek, and other public riverside locations around Watauga County. We also partnered with the City of Hendersonville to host two live staking workdays in Henderson County this February! 

Q: What species do you plant?

We only plant tree species native to our region — primarily silky willow, silky dogwood, elderberry, and ninebark stakes. We’ve also planted other species, like buttonbush, black willow, and red stem dogwood. Recommended for stream bank repair by the NC State Cooperative Extension, these native tree species prefer moist soil and thrive in riparian habitats. These species support native wildlife, especially local pollinators. They can also establish extensive root systems to successfully hold soil in place along riparian buffers, ultimately preventing erosion. 

Q: Why do you plant during the winter?

Live stakes are living cuttings of dormant trees that can propagate or sprout a new plant from the cutting of the parent plant. During winter, trees enter a state of dormancy to conserve their energy and weather the colder temperatures. Our live staking season lasts from November to March. We plant hearty hardwood stakes that use their energy to establish roots, waiting until spring to grow their branches and leaves. These resilient roots serve as a stream bank’s first line of defense against erosion, especially during high-flow events. Planting live stakes while tree species are in their natural pattern of energy conservation allows for a higher likelihood of survival along riparian buffers. 

Q: How successful are the stakes?

Live stakes have a survival rate of 30-80%. However, survival varies from species to species and depends on environmental conditions. For example, we’d likely have very low survivability if a drought occurred after planting. But, if we plant under ideal conditions using correct planting techniques and have favorable weather post-planting, our stakes can do remarkably well! We can also remove invasive plant species and water the freshly planted live stakes to give them a better chance of success. 

Stakes are most successful when planted along naturally sloped stream banks. They can still be planted on extremely incised banks, though they’re more likely to be less impactful in those locations. In our experience, silky willow and silky dogwood stakes tend to fare better than other native tree species we plant. 

Q: How long does it take for the stakes to grow?

Roots, leaves, and branches can be well established after one growing season. From there, they continue to grow in length from the tips of their roots and branches year after year. 

Q: How do live stakes benefit our waterways?

Live stakes grow root systems that hold soil in place and prevent erosion in local waterways. Sediment pollution remains a significant threat to the Watauga River Basin. This type of pollution clogs aquatic habitats and transports toxic substances through local waterways, increasing water temperatures and negatively impacting native biodiversity.

Once planted, small live stakes will grow into larger trees that stabilize and support riparian buffer health. Healthy riparian buffers benefit stream health in a multitude of ways — they also absorb nutrients, create wildlife habitat, and reduce the intensity of flooding from rain events. Unvegetated streams are often incised and can lose several feet of bank in a single rain event — this can be detrimental to nearby homes and other structures. 

Q: What’s a typical day of planting?

We prep the stakes by cutting the live ends at a 45-degree angle. The NC State Cooperative Extension states that such cutting is enough to catalyze root growth at the nodes. The folks at Foggy Mountain Nursery kindly mark the planting ends of our stakes, so we know which ends to cut (pictured right). Once prepped and ready, we take the stakes in buckets down to the stream. We plant along the bank from the water’s edge to the bank’s top — not in the actual stream bed. Stakes are planted at an angle and submerged into the soil about two-thirds of the way. From there, the rest of the work is up to the stakes!

Want to learn more about live staking? Check out our Events page to sign up for one of our upcoming volunteer workdays, or contact our resident live staking experts listed below:

Stand Up For Clean Water at Mine Permit Hearing May 2!

Stand Up For Clean Water at Mine Permit Hearing May 2!

Stand Up For Clean Water at Mine Permit Hearing May 2!

Action Expired


The North Toe River in Spruce Pine is loved by paddlers, anglers and swimmers alike. It provides tourism opportunities for the local community, and is home to trout and endangered species that need clear mountain rivers to thrive.

However, mining facilities on the North Toe have violated water quality standards repeatedly in recent years, and last summer, the North Toe closed to the public after a hydrofluoric acid spill from a mine caused a fish kill. And while the NC Department of Environmental Quality considers the river impaired, the agency has proposed new permits for the next several years that would allow the pollution from the mine processing facilities to continue.

Right now the permits for all six mining facilities on the North Toe are up for renewal. Thankfully, MountainTrue members like you contacted the NC Division of Water Resources in February to make sure the Spruce Pine community gets a public hearing before the permits are approved, and that hearing is now scheduled for Thursday, May 2.

Hearing Details:

Public Hearing on Wastewater Discharge Permit Renewals for Avery and Mitchell Counties

Thursday May 2 at 6 P.M.

Mitchell Senior Citizens Center

152 Ledger School Road

Bakersville, NC 28705

Speaker registration begins at 5:30 P.M.

We hope you’ll come to the hearing to stand up for clean water, and spread the word to make sure there’s a big public turnout!


Why Are The Mine Permits A Problem?

  • As it stands, these Clean Water Act permits would allow these mining facilities to continue dumping polluted water into the North Toe River for the next several years. Now is our chance to urge the Department of Environmental Quality to do the right thing. DEQ can still change the permits to require the mines to clean up their act, instead of locking in the same pollution for years to come.
  • DEQ considers the North Toe River impaired, but allows the current pollution to continue unabated in the proposed renewed pollution permits.
  • DEQ should require the facilities with aging or failing infrastructure to upgrade their operations, reduce pollution, and protect water quality.
  • These six mining facilities generate an enormous amount of waste and together have a real negative impact on the North Toe. With all six permits up for renewal, now is the perfect opportunity for DEQ to take a closer look at these mining facilities and to develop permits will clean up the river.
  • The outdoor recreation economy in Western North Carolina depends on clean water and requires industry to be good stewards of our rivers.
  • If you live near the North Toe, DEQ needs to hear from you about what conditions you observe when mine runoff clogs the river and where the biggest problems are.

Proposed Mine Facility Permits:

Crystal Operation: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/crystal-operation-permit-nc0084620-0

The Feldspar Corporation: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/feldspar-corporation-permit-nc0000353

Red Hill Quartz Processing Plant: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/red-hill-quartz-processing-plant-permit-nc0085839-0

Schoolhouse Quartz Facility: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/schoolhouse-quartz-facility-permit-nc0000361-0

Quartz Operation: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/quartz-operation-permit-nc0000175-0

Quartz Corp/Pine Mountain: https://deq.nc.gov/news/events/quartz-corppine-mountain-permit-nc0000400-1

Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter

Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter

Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter

Over the next few months, our Riverkeepers are teaming up with volunteers to plant “live stakes” along rivers in our region. We’re calling for potential volunteers like you to join us for a live staking day to help make this project a success.

What exactly is a live stake?

A live stake is a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks. The live stake then grows into a tree that reduces sediment erosion. Some of our supporters are surprised to learn that sediment is one of the worst polluters of our rivers, but it’s true sediment clogs aquatic habitats, increases water temperatures (which is bad news for trout and many other species) and transports toxic substances. Live staking also increases the density of the riparian buffer, which is the vegetated area surrounding a waterway that helps provide shade and filter out substances that normally enter the river from runoff. And since we’ve been planting trees along the rivers for the past few years, we can now take cuttings from those same trees that were live stakes only a few years ago. It’s a cost-effective, natural way to improve water quality and aquatic habitats.  

We have our live staking days, which we also call Paddle-n-Plant days, from January to March because live stakes can only be planted while the plants are still dormant. When the spring comes, the stakes’ nodes that were planted underground will sprout roots, helping to hold the riverbank in place.

Help Grow Our Impact

MountainTrue volunteers and our Riverkeepers have planted thousands of trees through our live staking days, and this year our Riverkeepers have set their sights on ways to increase their impact. Watershed Outreach Coordinator Anna Alsobrook’s goal this year is to more accurately determine the survival rate of the live stakes on the French Broad River. By spray-painting the tips of the stakes, she’ll be able to see them more easily from the river during follow up. In the High Country, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill hopes to plant 3,000 stakes by March.

We need your help to make our live staking days a success. It will make a huge difference for the rivers if you sign up for a live staking day here, or donate to MountainTrue to make these efforts possible here.

Michael Franti & Spearhead Headline Riverkeeper Beer Series with Benefit Concert at Salvage Station on August 3

Michael Franti & Spearhead Headline Riverkeeper Beer Series with Benefit Concert at Salvage Station on August 3

Michael Franti & Spearhead Headline Riverkeeper Beer Series with Benefit Concert at Salvage Station on August 3

Riverkeeper Beer series includes river clean-ups, four river floats and new beers brewed to support the French Broad River

Asheville, NC — MountainTrue, the French Broad Riverkeeper, Blue Ridge Orthodontics and Mix 96.5 are pleased to announce the 2017 Riverkeeper Beer Series, including the French Broad River Concert on August 3 starring Michael Franti & Spearhead. Get your tickets here: Buy Tickets on Eventbrite

Each Riverkeeper Beer Series, presented by MountainTrue and Blue Ridge Orthodontics and sponsored by Mix 96.5, will organize folks for a fun and easy float down the French Broad River or a river cleanup near one of the premier breweries in the region, including New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Wedge Brewing Company, Hi-Wire Brewing and Wicked Weed Brewing. Several partner breweries will be creating unique beers to support the MountainTrue effort. Each float and river clean up event will feature an afterparty at the partner brewery location with music, Float to the Taps awards for those adventurous enough to pick up a tire, bottle, or old tv along the river bank.

French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson explains:
Asheville and the region love the French Broad River and the Riverkeeper Beer series is a great way to celebrate that. The Michael Franti concert combined with the river floats and beer release parties are a great way to enjoy summer in Asheville and support our work keeping the French Broad River a clean and safe place for people to paddle and play.

MountainTrue and Blue Ridge Orthodontics present the French Broad Riverkeeper Beer sponsored by Mix 96.5:

  • June 17 – River clean-up and float with a beer release party at Hi-Wire Brewing Big Top.
    Get your tickets here: Buy tickets on Eventbrite.
  • July 8 – River float with a beer release party at Wedge Brewing Co. at The Foundation.
  • July 29 – Beer release party at Wicked Weed Brewing
  • August 3 – Save the French Broad River Concert featuring Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Salvage Station. Get your tickets here: Buy Tickets on Eventbrite
  • August 12 – River float with a beer release party at Oskar Blues Brewery
  • August 19 – River clean-up and float with beer release party at New Belgium Brewing.
    Download Michael Franti Media kit: https://caa.app.box.com/s/wk3rl7lz85qlq1r2cik88oesvmfpeqen

Nikki Mitchell, Director of Marketing at Mix 96.5, explains:
The French Broad River is certainly something to celebrate and organizing clean ups and floats across the region can introduce people to new areas of the river as well as new people to the water in general. And what better way to celebrate than getting out and floating down the French Broad River.

Tickets for the concert go on sale Friday, April 7. General Admission is $31 advance / $36 at the door. VIP tickets are $100. VIP ticket holders will have an opportunity to attend a short, intimate acoustic set by Michael Franti prior to the show, access to food by Salvage Station, reserved viewing area with private bar during the main concert, and complimentary special release beers by Hi-Wire Brewing, Wedge Brewing Co., Wicked Weed Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, and New Belgium Brewing.


Michael Franti is a musician, filmmaker and humanitarian who is recognized as a pioneering force in the music industry. Long known for his globally conscious lyrics, powerful performances, and dynamic live shows, Franti has continually been at the forefront of lyrical activism, using his music as a positive force for change.

“I make music because I believe it can change people’s lives and make a difference in the world,” enthuses Franti, “music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose.”  He and his band Spearhead, known for their authentic and uplifting music, have found global success with multi-platinum songs like “Say Hey (I Love You)”, the chart breaking 2010 release of The Sound Of Sunshine. Franti and his band guarantee a show that will be thought provoking as well as energetic.

Franti has a 2016 single, “Once A Day” from his upcoming debut album on Fantasy Records. “Once a Day” was inspired by his son’s diagnosis with a rare kidney disease called FSGS (Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis) in the hopes that this song would inspire anyone in the world who is going through challenging times. “My belief is that through music, dance and gratitude for this life we can all ‘rise up’,” explains Franti.  “Once A Day” was produced by Supa Dups (Eminem, Damian Marley, Bruno Mars) and features special guest Sonna Rele. This new song has the same feel-good, inspiring vibe as “Say Hey (I Love You),” his 2x platinum hit single.

Giving back has always been at the heart of Franti’s mission, he has dedicated his life to spreading the joy of music and positivity to millions of people. Franti’s humanitarian, social justice, and peace efforts continue to inspire his music and are infused throughout his upcoming album on Fantasy Records due to release in May 2016.

Mix 96.5 (WOXL-FM), Asheville’s Hit Music Station, is part of Asheville Radio Group, the area’s leading radio advertising company, reaching thousands of listeners every week. The group includes five other world-class radio stations, including 105.9 the Mountain, 98.1 the River, Rewind 100.3, 105.5 the Outlaw, and ESPN Asheville, as well as local entertainment website the828.com.

MountainTrue is Western North Carolina’s premier advocate for environmental stewardship. We are committed to keeping our mountain region a beautiful place to live, work and play. Our members protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all residents of WNC. MountainTrue is home to the French Broad Riverkeeper, the protector and defender of the French Broad River.