Blitz the Bluff with MountainTrue, June 4 & 5

Blitz the Bluff with MountainTrue, June 4 & 5

BLITZ THE BLUFF WITH MOUNTAINTRUE

Bluff Mountain Bio-Blitz To Inventory Little-Studied But Very Diverse Ecosystem

 

Above photo by Steven McBride

MountainTrue is thrilled to announce the Bluff Mountain Bio-blitz happening this June 4 and 5th in the Pisgah National Forest near Hot Springs, North Carolina. During the Bio-blitz, expert and amateur naturalists will work in teams to document the biological diversity of Bluff Mountain.

“This event is a great opportunity for people to hike in a unique and diverse ecosystem, learn from expert naturalists, and see our native species and habitats first hand,” explains Josh Kelly, MountainTrue Public Lands Field Biologist.

Who: MountainTrue and Hot Springs Mountain Club
What: Bluff Mountain Bio-Blitz nature inventory
Where: Meet at Hot Springs Community Center – 356 US-25, Hot Springs, NC 28743
When: June 4-5, 2016.

 

Be a Bluff Mountain Bio-Blitzer!

Reserve your spots today and take part in this effort to inventory this beautiful jewel of Appalachia.

Register Now!

This event is free and each day bio-blitzers will have the option of taking part in either moderate or strenuous hikes led by expert-level naturalists. Hikers have the option of bringing their own lunch or paying for a packed lunch to be provided by MountainTrue.

Bluff Mountain is a massive peak that rises more than 3,500’ above the French Broad River to a height of over 4,600’. Bluff has many of the conditions associated with some of the most diverse sites in the Blue Ridge: high elevation relief, complex geology with circumneutral conditions, and numerous streams, springs, and seeps. These conditions should provide an ideal habitat for an abundance of rare and common species, yet few biological inventories of Bluff Mountain have occurred.

Bluff Mountain bio-blitzers will endeavor to inventory the biological diversity of Bluff Mountain. MountainTrue will provide maps and resources to help standardize data collection to participants. After the bioblitz, all the data collected will be submitted to the US Forest Service as part of a citizens’ proposal for protective management of Bluff Mountain.

Expert-level naturalists and knowledgeable locals participating include Jamie Harrelson of the Carolina Bird Club (Ornithologist), Bob Gale of MountainTrue (Botanist/Ecologist), Josh Kelly of MountainTrue (Biologist, Botanist) Rob Kelly, Madison County resident (Forester), Mary Kelly of Madison County Forest Watch (Ecologist), Alan Smith (Botanist, Birder, Wildlife Biologist), Scott Pearson of Mars Hill University (Botanist/Ecologist), Keith Langdon, retired from Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Plants, Insects, Snails), Becky Smucker of the Carolina Mountain Club (Bryophytes), and Laura Boggess of Mars Hill University (Plants & Lichen).


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Statement on DEQ Coal Ash Classifications

MountainTrue Statement on DEQ’s Revised Coal Ash Classifications

On Wednesday, May 18, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released it’s revised risk classifications for North Carolina’s 34 coal ash pits, upgrading the sites that were classified as “low” or “low to intermediate” priority to “intermediate” priority. The following is MountainTrue’s statement on DEQ’s action:

The risk classifications issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Wednesday, May 18 are a vindication for the thousands of people who campaigned, rallied and attended public hearings across the state to make the case that “no community is a low priority.”

All “low” priority sites have been upgraded to “intermediate.” Once implemented, the toxic coal ash at every site across the state will be excavated and moved to a lined impoundment where it will no longer be left to seep into and pollute our groundwater, rivers and streams. This is the only right and good course of action, and the DEQ should be commended for addressing widespread public concerns.

There is an unfortunate caveat: DEQ has said it will ask the legislature for the ability to revisit and downgrade the coal ash classifications in 18 months – something for which we can see no justification and will vehemently oppose. The department has been collecting data from these sites for years, the evidence is clear and the time for action is now.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

One Day, Two Big Victories


One Day, Two Big Victories!


Yesterday we got great news on two efforts MountainTrue has been leading the way on for years: coal ash and the I-26 connector. The Department of Environmental Quality announced that all of Duke Energy’s coal ash in Western North Carolina will be cleaned up and moved away from our Broad and French Broad Rivers. Additionally, the NC Department of Transportation chose our preferred final plan for the I-26 expansion through Asheville that minimizes impacts to the environment and neighborhoods. Here’s a roundup of MountainTrue’s official statements and related news on these victories:


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

STATEMENT REGARDING SELECTION OF ALT. 4B FOR I-26 EXPANSION

STATEMENT REGARDING SELECTION OF ALT. 4B FOR I-26 EXPANSION

Below is a statement from Julie Mayfield, co-director at MountainTrue, regarding today’s announcement by the North Carolina Department of Transportation regarding the selection of Alternative 4B for the bridge section of the I-26 Connector Projector:

After 20 years of community conversations about the I-26 Connector Project and its impact on Asheville, we welcome the selection of Alternative 4B for the bridge section. This decision reflects thousands of hours of hard work that residents of Asheville put into developing and advocating for an alternative that will benefit Asheville rather than just moving highway traffic through our city.

The thousands of people who have engaged in this project in our community have worked through several groups that deserve recognition today. An early citizen group was the I-26 Group that advocated for the design principles that remain a touchstone for citizen advocacy today. The Asheville Design Center was founded for the express purpose of addressing this project, and it was their original design that formed the basis for the alternative selected today. The I-26 ConnectUs Project formed in 2009 and is made up of several community organizations and representatives from the Asheville neighborhoods that stand to be most impacted by the I-26 Connector Project: Burton Street, Hillcrest, Montford, West Asheville, MountainTrue, Asheville on Bikes, and the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville. We also have to recognize the invaluable legal counsel provided by the Southern Environmental Law Center for the last 15 years.

We appreciate NCDOT and other agencies responding to the overwhelming calls from Asheville to prioritize the people who live and work here. This alternative allows Patton Avenue to return to being a surface street rather than an interstate. This opens the door for a new signature gateway to Asheville’s downtown, for cyclists and pedestrians to get from West Asheville to downtown across the Jeff Bowen Bridge, and for new infill development that will create a vibrant urban boulevard and an expanded tax base for the city.

Alternative 4B also minimizes impacts on the historic Burton Street community that stood to suffer significant harm in other alternatives, and it offers an opportunity for a new connection between the Hillcrest community and Patton Ave. There are, of course, still impacts to other neighborhoods, especially Montford, and we continue to work with NCDOT to reduce those impacts.

Today’s decision represents a huge step forward, and we happily celebrate it. Tomorrow, we will get back to work on other aspects of the I-26 Connector Project. We continue to believe that the project overall remains too large for Asheville, and we look forward to continued discussions with NCDOT about options for reducing the size. We also continue to advocate for more bike and pedestrian infrastructure that should be developed in conjunction with the project. We anticipate that work will lead to future decisions that will benefit Asheville and its residents and that we can celebrate as we do today’s decision.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

MountainTrue Raleigh Report, Issue 20

MountainTrue Raleigh Report

Issue 20: Tuesday, May 3, 2016

 

They’re Baaacck
Legislators returned to Raleigh last week for the “short session.” Aside from dueling protests over HB2, the big news was the release of the Governor’s budget. The $22.8 billion proposal contains pay raises for teachers and represents a 2.8 percent spending increase over last fiscal year.

Conservation and the Budget
There was good news in the Governor’s budget for those of us who care about conservation and natural spaces. McCrory’s budget:

  • Provides an additional $1 million annually for the Department of Agriculture’s farmland preservation fund.
  • Restores the cuts made last year to the Natural Heritage Program, the state program that compiles information about the most important natural areas in North Carolina.
  • Restores funding for the Air & Water Quality Management Account, which pays for the Division of Air Quality to do much of its monitoring and oversight of air quality.
  • Maintains funding approved last year for the state’s trust funds for clean water, parks and other conservation efforts for the upcoming 2016-17 fiscal year.

There’s still plenty of work to be done before the budget is complete. Both the House and Senate will release their own versions of the budget and then differences will have to be ironed out before the final spending plan goes to the Governor for signature. Early chatter inside the legislative building indicates a strong desire among both House and Senate leaders to have the final budget approved on or very shortly after the new fiscal year begins July 1 – a very ambitious goal. We’ll see if they can pull it off.

Welcome to NC – Just Don’t Drink the Water
One bill we are already following is SB 779/HB 1005, which limits when state agencies, local boards of health or local health departments can issue health advisories for pollution in drinking water wells and public water systems.  This bill stems from confusion over notices sent by the state to well owners near coal ash ponds about the safety of their drinking water over the last year or so.  The State first told the residents their water was NOT safe to drink, then, several months later, under a different standard, the state sent new letters to many well owners saying their water was indeed safe.

If approved, this legislation would limit the instances in which health advisories can be sent to the public essentially to those instances in which the water already violates a health standard or in which there is an interim standard and state-led investigation that uncovers an imminent threat to public health, safety or the environment.  The bill would effectively prohibit health agencies from issuing a health advisory when, for instance, experts know the water is dangerous but the actual standard has not yet been violated.  The law would also prohibit health agencies from warning people that their water is close to violating a health standard.

MountainTrue opposes this bill as written. Clearly, health authorities should be allowed to provide the public with all the information we need to make informed decisions about the safety of the water we drink.  The good news about this issue is that, as MTRaleigh goes to print, we are getting indications that legislators are reconsidering this unnerving proposal. We’ll continue to keep and eye on it and keep you posted.

Movers and Shakers
For local political watchers, it will come as no surprise that three WNC lawmakers were recently named among the most effective in Raleigh. The rankings are based on a recent survey of members and lobbyists conducted by the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.  Publicly, most legislators will dismiss these rankings as little more than a popularity contest. Nevertheless, the rankings are widely read by legislators, lobbyists and other close followers of state politics.

In the Senate, Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson – the Senate’s Rules chairman – ranked as the second-most effective member of the Senate, behind only Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. Sen. Ralph Hise, R-Mitchell, was sixth. Hise is co-chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services appropriations subcommittee and a key player in the reform of the state’s $12 billion Medicaid system. (He’s also our early bet for Apodaca’s replacement as Rules chairman in 2017). In the House, Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, was eighth. McGrady is one of the three chairman of House committee that oversees the budget process for the House Republican majority and is a major voice in just about all environmental legislation that comes through the General Assembly.

Movin’ and Shakin’
MountainTrue members will be heading to Raleigh soon to meet with McGrady, Hise and other legislators to discuss MountainTrue’s priorities for the 2016 session. Stay tuned for updates on these meetings and more information on how you can be part of MountainTrue’s advocacy efforts.

Get to Know Your Legislators
Keep your eye on our WNC Legislator Profiles. We continue to update them so you can get to know our legislators better.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Vote MountainTrue for Best of WNC

Vote MountainTrue for Best of WNC

Vote MountainTrue for Best of WNC

Voting is now open in Mountain Xpress’ annual Best of WNC readers’ poll. The deadline to cast your ballot is May 4, but don’t delay! Vote Now and Vote MountainTrue for:

Best Environmental Nonprofit for our work to retire Asheville’s coal-fired energy plant and keep pollution out of our rivers and streams.

Best Conservation Nonprofit for our work bringing conservation and recreation groups together to support more wilderness in our national forests.

✔ Best Activist Group for Civic/Political Action for defeating Duke’s plan to build transmission lines through Henderson, Polk and Buncombe counties.

✔ Best Nonprofit that improves Asheville for working to protect our neighborhoods from an oversized I-26 highway expansion project, and working to make the French Broad Paddle Trail #11 in Outdoor Magazine’s list of Best Trips for 2016.

✔ Vote for the Save the French Broad Concert at the Orange Peel for Best Fundraising Event. Last year Matisyahu performed; this year’s band will be just as awesome.

Xpress_BestOf2016-Leader-Banner-Bottom

 

Vote here: http://mountainx.com/bestofwnc/

Looking for more reasons to support MountainTrue? Check out our 2015 year in review: http://mountaintrue.org/2015-year-review/


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Josh Kelly, A Pioneer in Our Midst!

Josh Kelly, A Pioneer in Our Midst!

Josh Kelly, A Pioneer in Our Midst!

MountainTrue's Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly is an avid angler.

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly is an avid angler.

Josh Kelly, MountainTrue’s dedicated field biologist, has been recognized by Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine as one of 100 pioneers who have helped shape our region’s recreation, conservation, and adventure resources. The magazine explains:

“While benefactors and leaders in art, science, business, politics, medicine and other realms see their names emblazoned on buildings and their legacies revered for centuries, the people who advance outdoor recreation and the protection of public lands generally do their work without fanfare, quietly pushing the boundaries of human endurance and selflessly advocating on behalf of resources to benefit mankind.”

Josh is lauded for his work defending the wild forests of western North Carolina and beyond and joins such luminaries as author, anthologist and recording artist Thomas Rain Crowe, President Jimmy Carter and Daniel Boone. Josh tells the magazine, “the most rewarding work I have done has involved helping to steer Forest Service management towards a paradigm where we as a society give back to the land, rather than just take.”

As part of his work on the U.S. Forest Service’s Management Plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, Josh has helped bring together a broad coalition of wilderness advocates, conservationists and recreation groups that supports more trails and more public access, and also protection for more backcountry and wild places. Learn more at: http://mountaintrue.org/a-win-win-mou/


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

A Letter From Our Co-Directors On Our Legislative Agenda

A Letter From Our Co-Directors On Our Legislative Agenda

The following is an email from MountainTrue Co-Directors Julie Mayfield and Bob Wagner on our legislative agenda for the 2016 session.

Dear MountainTrue Supporter:

People who live in our part of the state know all too well that North Carolina’s legislature can have an enormous impact – good and bad – on the preservation and protection of our natural resources.

That’s why MountainTrue tracks legislation and engages legislators in Raleigh in addition to all of our local advocacy and on-the-ground work in WNC.

Our legislative work starts again soon this year, as the General Assembly prepares to open its 2016 session on April 25. We are writing to update you about our legislative efforts, which focus on several important policy areas this year, and to invite you to help us speak up for a clean environment and a sustainable economy.

As lawmakers head back to Raleigh, here’s a list of the issues we’ll be talking to them about:

  • Clean Energy – State energy policies, like North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, and tax policies that incentivize the use of solar, wind and other renewable energy have made our state a national leader in clean-tech jobs and the evolution away from fossil fuels. Unfortunately, lawmakers in Raleigh continue to attack these policies, and MountainTrue will again be a strong voice this session for maintaining our state’s reputation as a leader on clean energy.
  • Clean Water – In WNC, the growth of the brewing industry is just one example of how a strong economy depends on clean water. Before the Great Recession, North Carolina was a leader in clean water investments such as the Clean Water Management Trust fund and other funding sources. Since then, lawmakers have made slow but steady progress in restoring this funding. This year, MountainTrue will work to see that these investments continue to grow. We’ll also advocate for expanded funding help farmers and other property owners manage their land in ways that protect water quality for downstream neighbors.
  • Coal Ash – Effective clean up and disposal of the state’s coal ash will be a long-term effort that requires accountability and transparency among all stakeholders. Unfortunately, legal maneuverings and political posturing have been a poor replacement for good policy on coal ash.  This session, MountainTrue will oppose efforts to water down coal ash laws or reduce public accountability and transparency in the clean up effort.
  • Local Control – Local communities must be able to find sustainable solutions to important challenges, including transportation, planning and development. Unfortunately, recent legislatures have too often reduced this authority. MountainTrue opposes any further reduction in local governments’ ability to shape sustainable futures for their citizens.
  • Fair and Open Government – Our government works best when all citizens have an equal voice, regardless of their background, political affiliation, income – or where they live. That’s why MountainTrue supports a nonpartisan redistrictingprocess, so that all North Carolinians are equally represented at all levels of government.

In addition to engaging lawmakers on these issues, we will also be taking groups of MountainTrue supporters to Raleigh this session to meet with their lawmakers. We invite you to join us. The first of these trips is scheduled for early May. If you are interested in participating, please contact our campaign director Joan Walker.

To help keep you update on important environmental issues in Raleigh during the session, MountainTrue also publishes the MTRaleigh Report. To subscribe, please visithttp://mountaintrue.org/ncga/ and click on the link at the top of the page.

We also have information about your legislators on our website.  If you would like to learn more about your legislator, their voting records, their fundraising and their contact information, visit the MountainTrue website at http://mountaintrue.org/ncga.

Finally – thank you! Your support of MountainTrue makes it possible for us to protect – both locally and in Raleigh – the places we share and love in Western North Carolina.

Sincerely,

Julie Mayfield and Bob Wagner
Co-Directors, MountainTrue


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Katharine Hayhoe at First Baptist Church in Asheville

Katharine Hayhoe at First Baptist Church in Asheville

Katharine Hayhoe Discusses Faith and Climate Science at First Baptist Church in Asheville

On April 5, 300 people gathered at First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville for a presentation by climate scientist and evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe.

Hayhoe Event (1 of 1)

Scott Hardin-Nieri, director of the Creation Care Alliance of WNC begins the night by acknowledging our partners.

Katharine was uniquely able to make the clear connection between science and faith on the subject of climate change. She explained climate change in simple language and well-understood metaphors and made a strong case for why Christians should care about and act on climate change.

You can now listen to the full lecture online here: http://www.fbca.net/worship-a-music/worship-this-week-6361

Katharine argued that faith and science are not in direct competition and are not two alternate systems of beliefs. Climate change is an observable scientific fact, and “whether you believe in climate change or not, or whether you believe in gravity or not, if you step off the cliff, you’re going down.” In her speech, she reviewed the substantial evidence and scientific observations that show that climate change is real and happening now.

Hayhoe Event (1 of 1)-2

Katharine Hayhoe reviewing the conclusive data supporting climate change.

A charge often levelled against climate scientists is that they are “alarmist”. Refuting that characterization, Hayhow showed that when you compare the past 20 years of climate projections against the past 20 years of climate data, that the projections have been too low. Rather than being alarmist, scientists have been too cautious, too conservative. Scientist “suffer from ESLD, we error on the side of least drama,” she explained to chuckles from the crowd.

Despite this, polling has shown that the public opinion is turning against the scientific consensus, and that opinion is divided less by religion but by political and cultural/social identification. These divisions must be bridged because “climate change doesn’t just affect all of us, it takes all of us to fix it.”

Katharine reinforced Pope Francis’ understanding that slowing climate change is about loving our global and local neighbors more fully. Those who attended left the event with a better understanding of the science, a sense of renewed hope, and tips on how to talk to others about the challenges ahead.

This event was organized by the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina, a program of MountainTrue. We’d like to thank our generous sponsor, Krull & Company, socially and environmentally responsible investment management and financial planning – and our other partners: Green Sage Cafe, Climate Listening Project, Citizens’ Climate Lobby – Asheville Chapter, and the Wild Goose Festival.  

Katharine Hayhoe with Pete Krull of Krull & Company - socially and environmentally responsible investment management and financial planning - the lead sponsor of the event.

Katharine Hayhoe with Pete Krull of Krull & Company – socially and environmentally responsible investment management and financial planning – the lead sponsor of the event.

If we’re going to act in time to avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to bridge political and ideological divides. This event is an example of the role that the Creation Care Alliance can play in our community as a convener of people of faith and a facilitator of that necessary dialogue.

If you’re not yet a member of the Creation Care Alliance or MountainTrue, I hope you will consider getting more involved.

To become a member of MountainTrue, click here: http://mountaintrue.org/get-involved/mountaintrue/

To find out how you can volunteer with the Creation Care Alliance of WNC, contact Scott Hardin-Nieri at: scott@creationcarealliance.org

 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

MountainTrue Welcomes Two New Hires

MountainTrue Welcomes Two New Hires

MountainTrue Welcomes Two New Hires

Holly Demuth joins as Development Director;
Susan Bean hired as Community Engagement Manager

Asheville, N.C. — Western North Carolina-based conservation organization MountainTrue is proud to announce two new hires. Holly Demuth will join as the organization’s Development Director and Susan Bean takes the newly-created role of Community Engagement Manager.

Holly Demuth

Holly Demuth

Holly Demuth comes to the organization from Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where she served as North Carolina regional director. Previously she was executive director of WaysSouth, development director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and development and program associate for the Community Foundation of Henderson County. Prior to that, Holly was a park ranger for the National Park Service leading interpretive programs at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site and Muir Woods.

Holly has long been acquainted with the work of MountainTrue through its predecessors. She was a water quality volunteer with Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chair of the Buncombe County Chapter of Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA).

“When the WNCA joined forces with ECO in Henderson County and the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, it was clear that MountainTrue was going to be a strong advocate for all of Western North Carolina,” explains Holly, “As a region, we need an organization that stands for our values and works to maintain our ecological heritage.”

Susan Bean

Susan Bean

Susan Bean has taken on the role of community engagement manager with MountainTrue where she will expand volunteer and member programming. For the last four years, Susan has been the program director of Leadership Asheville, a community leadership development program designed to develop, connect and mobilize citizens from across the community, including business, nonprofit, education and government.

“MountainTrue does so much for the region and our environment,” Susan Bean explains. “I was really inspired by their recent victories – helping to secure the retirement of Asheville’s coal-fired power plant and defeating the proposed transmission lines that would have cut through Henderson, Buncombe and Polk counties. I’m thrilled to join such an effective team.”

Previously, Susan worked for the National Outdoor Leadership School leading whitewater paddling trips in Utah, Colorado and Idaho. She returned to the Southeast to earn her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she continued training wilderness trip leaders as a graduate assistant for the University’s outdoor program. She is actively involved in the community serving as a Co-Chair of the Building Bridges Board and a regular volunteer for the Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP).

Download full-size photo of Holly Demuth.

Download full-size photo of Susan Bean.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.