in determining land use and preserving the environment.
While working with RiverLink, Rich got a tour of the Swannanoa River, a French
Broad tributary, which joins the French Broad in Asheville, from a “river keeper.” “He
took me on this tour of the entire river and told me about all the issues they were deal-
ing with on this river,” Rich recalls. “It really opened my eyes to this idea of managing
the river and managing the people who live along the river.”
Rich began photographing pollution along the French Broad and its tributaries.
The people he showed the images to thought they were beautiful, but also depress-
ing. Rich didn’t “want this to be a project that brings people down. I want them
to realize how important this watershed is. People weren’t making the connection
back to the river. They were just saying ‘That’s such a shame.’”
The Walters hydroelectric power plant on the banks of the Pigeon River. The plant is linked
to the Walters Dam by a six-mile tunnel. The banks are a popular put-in point for whitewater
rafting and kayaking.
Rich began making portraits of people who work, live or recreate along the river,
encouraging viewers to spend time “thinking about their own relationship with the
river and about how they can either change that or make that better,” Rich says.
The photographs in Rich’s book include landscapes that are both idyllic and troubling, and Rich structured his project around this visual contrast. A waterfall at the
headwaters of the French Broad in North Carolina drops into a peaceful pool surrounded by green and yellow trees. A sunset casts orange light on the top of the