The river bed in the vicinity of NOC was altered 70 or 80 years ago to accommodate the addition of railroad service through the area.  There used to be a big ox bow that went around the hill currently along side Wesser Falls.  Wesser Falls was created by cutting down the ridge that was there so the river went straight.  By eliminating the ox bow, the railroad eliminated two bridges. I guess it was cost effective at the time. There was also a side track through NOC property in the area that is now the NOC rafting center and main parking area.  This track was removed (due to little use) about 25 or 30 years ago and allowed NOC to expand to its river left property.  That is the history of this area of the river as I remember it.  There is a railroad book that details the coming of the railroad through the western NC region.
As an alternate member of the Local Organizing Committee to put on the 2013 World Freestyle Championships I would say that NOC is working hard to include the local and regional community.  As I understand it (not a freestyler personally) the “Wave Shaper” provides the flexibility and more certainty to provide a world championship caliber wave feature for the World Championships. It will also be available for use by the boating community for fun and races afterwards.  NOC does not own the river bed.  The wave is currently and will in the future be available to anyone who paddles down to the wave.
Many in the local and regional community are excited about this event – for instance,  Bryson City will put up the official flags for the event along the main streets.
Hope this helps,  Thanks,

Bunny Johns,
Former President, NOC