On a beautiful and sunny day in early March, my husband and I volunteered with the folks at MountainTrue, a local non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the health of our local forests and waterways. Anna, a second-year AmeriCorps intern, expertly led the group of about 12 volunteers in planting live-stakes along eroded portions of the banks of Cane Creek. Live stakes are basically starts cut from trees like willows that thrive alongside rivers. As the starts begin to take root, they help to stabilize the banks and prevent sediment from getting into the creek. By preventing this erosion, the water stays clearer and more habitable for fish and other wildlife.

Beyond the benefits to the environment, the volunteers all had a great time as well! In canoes provided by MountainTrue, we paddled as a group down Cane Creek. Most of the folks had never met before, but became fast friends by bonding over a common mission and laughing over some silly paddling pitfalls. We also got to enjoy our lunches in the sun on a sandbar. Only one paddler ended up in the creek and that paddler just happened to be Hartwell Carson, MountainTrue’s French Broad Riverkeeper and an expert paddler. He was trying to block off an area under a tree, so that the other paddlers could pass by without getting stuck. Unfortunately, he got stuck under the tree and his courteousness ended up getting him wet!

If you love our beautiful natural surroundings and you feel like making a few new friends, this is a perfect way to give back! You don’t need to be an expert paddler or have any special equipment. MountainTrue makes volunteering easy and enjoyable.

Rebecca Perry-Hill manages our downtown Asheville location on 53 Biltmore Avenue.