Tell the NCGA: DEQ needs the financial resources to protect our communities!

Tell the NCGA: DEQ needs the financial resources to protect our communities!

Tell the NCGA: DEQ needs the financial resources to protect our communities!

The state budget is headed into the final stretch. Tell legislators to support the House funding for DEQ and oppose the Senate’s cuts to the agency.

Let lawmakers know TODAY that we want DEQ to have the financial resources it needs to protect our natural resources!

Under the Senate budget proposal, the Department of Environmental Quality, would lose 45 full-time positions. That would greatly limit DEQ’s ability to serve as NC’s environmental watch dog responsible for enforcing state and federal protections for our air, water, and public health. The budget further calls for a 50% decrease in staff, 14 positions total, from the seven regional DEQ offices, and the entire environmental education department (two positions).

The good news is that the House refused to go along with the Senate, and is much better on state funding for DEQ.

Send a letter and call your legislators today to tell them to support the House funding for DEQ and oppose the Senate’s cuts to the agency.


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.

Kids in the Creek Students Get a Surprise Visitor!

Kids in the Creek Students Get a Surprise Visitor!

Kids in the Creek Students Get a Surprise Visitor!

On the last school day before Spring Break, dozens of Rugby Middle School students got a rare treat. Instead of staring out the classroom window and counting the hours until Summer vacation, the 8th graders were out in the early spring sunshine at the annual Kids in the Creek event learning about river ecosystems and water quality.

MountainTrue’s Water Quality Administrator, Jack Henderson, joined representatives from the 12 other organizations to staff the three-day event, and was there on the last day when something amazing happened. A group of students were in the river, carefully turning over rocks to find aquatic insects and other critters — usually tiny larvae of stoneflies, dragonflies and an occasional small minnow. One of the students yelled out to the group “I found a salamander!”, holding up a bucket, but no one was expecting what he had found. It was indeed a salamander, but not one of the small, common ones. He had found a young Eastern Hellbender, the exceedingly rare giant salamander that lives in clear, healthy streams of the Southern Appalachians and can grow up to 2.5 feet in length! Though this one was smaller than the size of a hand.

This is the furthest downstream that a Hellbender has been spotted in the Mills River. Photo credit: Haley Smith, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

This is the furthest downstream that a Hellbender has been spotted in the Mills River. Photo credit: Haley Smith, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.

The experts on site were shocked and excited to see a Hellbender at that location. It was the furthest downstream that a Hellbender has been documented in the Mills River. The fact that a Hellbender is thriving in the main branch of the Mills is a testament to the decades of work by MountainTrue and many others in the area to protect water quality from pollution threats.

The kids thought it was pretty cool too, and likely won’t soon to forget their rare sighting of a creature few in these mountains ever get to lay eyes on.

In total, almost 300 students visited six different stations where they had hands-on opportunities to test the chemical parameters of the river, survey the stream and collect aquatic life, properly identify macroinvertebrates, test soil samples, learn more about the process of water filtration for drinking water, and even play a game where students were able to “be” aquatic life.

Kids in the creek sampling the river's macro-invertebrates.

Kids in the Creek sampling macro-invertebrates. Photo credit: Micaela Hyams of RiverLink.

The event was made possible by volunteers who gave over 250 hours of service and all the event partners: Henderson County Soil & Water Conservation District, NC Wildlife Commission, City of Hendersonville, City of Asheville, Mills River Parks and Recreation, MountainTrue, Mills River Partnership, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Rugby Middle School, Riverlink, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and Mountain Horticulture Research Station.

After everyone got a chance to see the Hellbender, it was released back to the Mills River where we hope it will grow and thrive. If you want to help protect its habitat and the waters we all need and love, consider donating or volunteering to support MountainTrue’s water quality work today!


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.

MT Raleigh Report | April 18, 2017 — Wait, Then Hurry Up

MT Raleigh Report | April 18, 2017 — Wait, Then Hurry Up

The General Assembly has picked up speed in recent weeks, following the passage of the recent HB2-related legislation. Last week, Legislators had a short week before heading out of town for a spring break. They return today, April 18th, and will rush headlong towards “crossover”— the deadline for most bills to be passed by at least one chamber in order to be considered for the rest of the session.

When the post-crossover dust settles, look for another regulatory reform bill to come out of the House, as well as, perhaps, a compromise renewable-energy bill that Senior Advisor to Speaker Moore (and former WNC legislator) Mitch Gillespie has been trying to piece together since last fall. Gillespie has his work cut out for him. The House GOP caucus is deeply divided on renewable energy with some members supporting it as an important 21st-Century job creator, particularly in rural areas. Other GOP members oppose regulatory incentives for renewables, which they say drive up energy costs and protect the green-energy industry from having to compete with more traditional sources of energy.

Once crossover is complete, we can expect the budget process to also pick up speed. Lawmakers typically wait until early May when final revenue figures from the April tax season are in and they know how much money the state has to spend in the coming year. Tax cuts are almost certain to be included in the budget, but the size is still to be resolved between the Senate and House. Senate GOP leaders would like to see the cuts top out at $1 billion, while House Republicans favor more modest cuts totaling hundreds of millions. How Gov. Cooper will react to the tax reduction is still unclear – his budget priorities include significant investments in public education. If and how that spending will be squared with GOP tax cuts is anyone’s guess right now.

Top Enviro Cop Regan Gets Stamp of Approval

Before legislators left town, they wrapped up confirmation for Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Michael Regan. A former staffer for the U.S. EPA as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, Regan earned a unanimous recommendation for confirmation from the Senate Agriculture, Environment committee, and, ultimately, unanimous approval from the Senate. Regan’s confirmation was received with a collective sigh of relief among his supporters, as there was some speculation that his strong environmental experience – and the fact that GOP lawmakers have so far approved all of Gov. Cooper’s appointments – might cause some GOP legislators to make an example out of Regan and reject his appointment. Former New Hanover County Rep. Susi Hamilton was also confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of Natural & Cultural Resources.

Regulatory “Reform” Marches On

The regulatory reform bill, S131, which contains several troublesome provisions (including a doubling of the threshold for unmitigated destruction of streams) continues to move full steam ahead. The Senate voted last week to concur to the House changes to the bill, but one final vote is required. The Senate vote was mostly along party lines. Here is how the WNC delegation voted:

No: Terry Van Duyn

Yes: Deanna Ballard, Jim Davis, Warren Daniel, Ralph Hise, Chuck Edwards

High Hog Drama

There was high drama in the General Assembly last week over H467, Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies. The bill would limit compensatory damages available to plaintiffs in nuisance suits against agriculture and forestry operations. It is a response to numerous pending lawsuits against mega-hog processor Smithfield for impacts related to its hog production facilities. The week saw the bill brought up by the Speaker out of order, Republicans bickering amongst themselves about the bill and the process used to approve it,  as well as hog producers packing the House gallery. They watched as representatives approved an amendment preventing the bill from applying to current lawsuits and then sent the amended bill to the Senate. The prospects for the bill’s fate are unclear, but we’ll be watching.


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.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Returns to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Returns to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Returns to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

Get Your Tickets Before They Sell Out!

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival returns to Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Mills River location on May 4, 2017. Presented by MountainTrue and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and sponsored by AE Global Media, Holly Spring Farm, Mountain Xpress and WNCW 88.7, The Wild & Scenic Film Festival features the year’s best short-form nature, wilderness and outdoor adventure films.

The Wild & Scenic festival will take place under the open sky at Sierra Nevada’s outdoor amphitheater located on the banks of the French Broad River. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Get there early to grab a drink, explore the gardens and snag a prime viewing spot! Tickets can be purchased at http://bit.ly/WSFF17pr.

VIP ticket holders are invited to take part in a special sustainability tour of Sierra Nevada’s Mills River Brewery – the first production brewery in the US to be LEED® certified, Platinum. After the tour, VIP attendees will enjoy Sierra Nevada’s award-winning beers, food and other refreshments at an exclusive reception in the brewery’s new High Gravity reception hall. VIP Tour starts at 5 p.m. The reception starts at 6:30 p.m.

wsff_2016_115

Last year’s festival was a tremendous success, selling out two weeks prior to the festival date. This year, we have increased event capacity to meet high public demand. Photo by: Katrina Ohstrom.

“Each year, Wild & Scenic presents inspiring tales of adventure and important stories from the frontlines of environmental advocacy,” says Bob Wagner, co-director of MountainTrue. “This is our seventh year hosting the Wild & Scenic Film Festival and these issues are more important today than ever.”

Our Wild & Scenic festival is a selection of films from the annual festival held in Nevada City, CA which is now in its 15th year. The festival focuses on films which speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet, and is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal of using film to inspire activism.

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is made possible by the support of national partners: CLIF Bar, Patagonia, Orion Magazine, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Klean Kanteen and Earthjustice.

EVENT DETAILS: May 4, 7-11 p.m.: Doors open at 7 p.m. and show starts at 8 p.m.. Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, NC 28732. Ticket Prices: $20, $15 for students, VIP tickets: $125. Tickets can be purchased at http://bit.ly/WSFF17pr.

For more information: Contact Susan Bean, susan@mountaintrue.org, 828-258-8737 x216 or mountaintrue.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.

Where are they now? Plans for WNC’s energy future

Where are they now? Plans for WNC’s energy future

by Joan Walker, Campaigns Director

Remember that time in 2015 when Duke Energy wanted to replace Asheville’s coal-fired power plant with massive transmission lines and an oversized gas-fired plant?

As you may recall, the community at large and MountainTrue were less than excited about the prospect of doubling down on fossil fuels to meet our area’s electricity demands. We saw the coal plant’s shuttering as an opportunity to reimagine our energy future and divert investments away from expensive and dirty fossil fuels to energy efficiency and renewables.

These technologies save customers like you and me on our utility bills, make our homes more comfortable, healthier places to live and create high quality local jobs. Investing in energy efficiency just makes sense. Compared to even the most efficient gas-fired power plants and renewables, efficiency remains the cheapest method of providing power — and one that Duke Energy is allowed to recover profits on just the same as they will on $893.2 million price tag for the new gas fired plant.

Together, we got a new plan from Duke and NC’s utility regulators: A smaller gas plant, no massive power lines, a commitment to 15 MW of solar and 5 MW of battery storage. A proposed additional 190 Megawatt “peaking” plant was taken off the table, and Duke Energy made a commitment (codified by utility regulators) to work with the community to find ways to avoid or delay building it through new technologies and energy efficiency and conservation initiatives.

In March 2016 an official community collaboration was launched when the City of Asheville, Buncombe County and Duke Energy brought together stakeholders from across the community to form the Energy Innovation Task Force. Since then, working groups comprised of Task Force members, community volunteers and technical experts from Rocky Mountain Institute have been researching existing Duke Energy and community programs, innovative examples from around the country, leading edge technologies, strategies for engaging communities in clean energy solutions and more.

MountainTrue’s Campaigns Director, Joan Walker, has led both the Programs and Community Engagement working groups and is playing an integral role in developing recommendations on both those fronts for Duke Energy, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. In her role on City Council, MountainTrue Co-Director Julie Mayfield co-chairs the Task Force.

The first task of this group was to define the specific amount of peak-demand energy usage that would need to be reduced to avoid building a peaking unit. We discovered that every year, starting around 2022, Buncombe County customers would need to reduce peak electricity usage by 17 MW.  That’s about the same amount of electricity that would be generated by solar panels on about 3,400 homes per year. I don’t know about you but I’d definitely rather see solar panels covering my neighbors’ roofs than paying for a power plant that would cost around $100 million dollars and be run on gas that, while better for our local environment, will still contribute to climate change and pollute air and water where the gas is extracted!

While there’s still much work to be done, we wanted to share some exciting updates on the progress that we’ve made so far and where we’re headed!

  • The Program Group has delivered comprehensive recommendations for energy saving programs and projects to Duke Energy, the City of Asheville and Buncombe County.
  • In addition to programs and projects, the Working Group calls on the City, County and Duke Energy to support statewide reforms like legislation allowing third-party sales of renewable energy in North Carolina and for Duke Energy to implement on-bill financing for energy efficiency. Both are proven effective, reliable ways to make renewables and energy efficiency more affordable for you and me.
  • Buncombe County has made an initial commitment of $5.6 million dollars to improve the efficiency of county schools and buildings, incentivize a 5 MW solar farm and more. Buncombe County Commission Chair Brownie Newman will bring additional Task Force recommendations into the county’s budget planning process this spring and seek additional investments.
  • The City of Asheville has committed to $205,000 in investments in energy efficiency, is moving forward with solar for some of its buildings, and is considering investing up to an additional $1 million in existing low-income-weatherization programs to help make those homes safer, healthier and more affordable.
  • Duke Energy has announced that its investments in battery storage will exceed the committed 5MW and that Buncombe County will begin getting automatic meters in 2018.  These meters will make it easier for people to understand and reduce their energy use.
  • Duke Energy elevated the Task Force’s recommendations in a recent update to the NC Utilities Commission and will work with RMI and Task Force members over the next several months to identify viable, cost effective solutions for increasing efficiency in the area. Duke’s 2018 budget planning occurs in the fall, so we anticipate more clarity on their commitments at that time.
  • Duke Energy has hired Shelton Group, the nation’s leading marketing communications firm focused exclusively on energy and the environment, to work with the Task Force to develop a marketing and communications campaign to engage the community at large later this year.

We’re excited to see these first steps toward a new energy future for WNC, and we recognize there’s still a lot of work to be done.

None of these actions or entities alone can meet the short term goal of permanently avoiding the 190 MW peaking plant, much less a clean-energy future that emphasizes efficiency and renewables more than dirty fossil fuels. But as they say, many hands make light work. It will take all of us taking personal action and calling for greater investments in clean energy to make those goals reality.

Join us and get engaged with the Energy Innovation Task Force; attend public meetings, serve on a working group or get on the email listserve for updates and more exciting information as the year moves on!

 

 

 









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 tells McHenry: Don’t support EPA budget cuts

MountainTrue tells McHenry: Don’t support EPA budget cuts

by Joan Walker, MountainTrue Campaigns Director

Wiseman's_View_6

On Wednesday April 12, MountainTrue staff met with Congressman Patrick McHenry’s Regional Representative, Roger Kumpf, to talk about some of our concerns with the Trump Administration’s spending and regulatory priorities. This is the second time we’ve met with the Congressman’s office this year, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to raise our issues with Mr. McHenry and his staff.

We delivered the letter below, focusing on President Trump’s proposed 31% cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency — a reckless and extreme proposal that would endanger the health and wellbeing of communities across the country and right here in Western North Carolina. We outlined several instances where a strong and well-funded EPA protected the people of Congressman McHenry’s district and instances where he himself called on the EPA for help.

We will continue to raise the alarm with elected officials as long as our communities and environment remain under siege by this Administration. If you share any of these concerns, please call your representatives in Congress TODAY and do the same!

*************

April 12, 2017

Dear Representative Patrick McHenry,

On behalf of the 3,023 MountainTrue members and supporters who live within the U.S. 10th Congressional District of North Carolina, we want to share our deep concerns about the Trump administration’s proposed 31% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s FY18 budget. This proposal is reckless and extreme, and would put the health and safety of all Americans at risk.

The EPA has played a crucial role in protecting the health of your constituents. One example that you are familiar with is the clean up of the CTS Superfund site. CTS abandoned their metal-plating facility and left it to contaminate groundwater and air with toxic Trichloroethylene or TCE. You were a vocal advocate and a partner in our efforts to demand that CTS clean up the site because it endangered neighboring communities and, together, we pushed the EPA to take a strong stand and push CTS aggressively toward a clean up they did not want to undertake.

Your help with EPA was and is much appreciated, but our success depended on EPA having clear federal authority, being willing to use its enforcement power, and having the resources to do so.  President Trump’s proposed budget could cripple the EPA, and leave our communities at risk the next time we face an irresponsible or recalcitrant corporation like CTS.

Another example of an important role EPA has played here is on coal ash.  Though MountainTrue and other groups had been working for years to get the state to take action to address this significant pollution source, the state essentially ignored us and the problem until EPA stepped in with their criminal and civil enforcement efforts after the Dan River coal ash spill.  Only with EPA looking over their shoulder did North Carolina begin addressing coal ash pollution in a systematic and aggressive way that will lead to cleaner water and healthier communities across the state.

Please stand with the residents of the 10th Congressional district and reject these shortsighted cuts. Our people deserve a robust, well-staffed and functional EPA.

  • Americans expect and deserve clean air and water. Slashing EPA’s budget by almost one-third would to take America’s environmental cop off the beat – badly eroding the government’s ability to protect our communities from pollution.
  • President Trump’s proposed cuts to the EPA would be the biggest in the agency’s history. They are an assault on our mainstream, bipartisan legacy of support for protecting clean air and water.
  • Virtually every major program would be affected, weakening and in some cases destroying the agency’s ability to:
    • Send money to the states to monitor air and water quality, a critical tool for identifying pollution hotspots.
    • Enforce the law against criminal polluters.
    • Clean up dangerously polluted radioactive and chemical sites that threaten water supplies and community health.
    • Clean up the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.
    • Take action in the urgent fight against global climate change.
  • The real-world results of these cuts will be more:
    • Pollution in waterways.
    • Health problems – short term and permanent – due to contaminated drinking water wells.
    • Asthma attacks for kids from increased smog.
    • Breathing problems, hospitalizations, and preventable deaths for the elderly.
    • Infant developmental problems from increased toxic mercury pollution.
  • The proposed budget eliminates funding for Energy Star, the most successful voluntary energy efficiency program ever, which saved Americans $24 billion in 2012 alone.
  • Out of every ten dollars the federal government spends, just 2 cents go to EPA. As Republican Congressman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said, there’s “not that much in the EPA [budget] for crying out loud.”
  • EPA’s job is by no means done. Even today, up to ten million homes still get their drinking water through lead pipes – not just in Flint, Michigan but in towns and cities across the nation. Half of all Americans live in counties with unhealthy air quality.

We need to move forward, not backward, when it comes to our air, water, and communities – especially children, the elderly, and others who are most vulnerable. If you and your colleagues in Congress believe EPA has overreached its regulatory authority, then we implore you to take a measured, responsible approach to guiding the EPA through statutory changes.

If the radical cuts proposed by President Trump become real, you would cripple the agency tasked with protecting the air, water and natural resources of our region and leave our communities vulnerable to the future abuses of corporate lawbreakers like CTS.

Sincerely,

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.

MountainTrue Announces Green Riverkeeper at 11th Annual Spring Green Bash

MountainTrue Announces Green Riverkeeper at 11th Annual Spring Green Bash

MountainTrue Announces Green Riverkeeper at 11th Annual Spring Green Bash

Saluda’s favorite river and block party is May 6; river, zipline and rappelling trips to benefit new Green Riverkeeper

Saluda, NC — MountainTrue is pleased to announce that Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue’s Southern Regional Director, is now also the new Green Riverkeeper and will serve as a fundamental protector of the Green River watershed. MountainTrue’s Riverkeeper programs are key to our endeavors to monitor and protect the quality of our region’s waterways.

MountainTrue is one of the few organizations in the nation with four Waterkeeper Alliance programs, also hosting the French Broad Riverkeeper, the Watauga Riverkeeper and the Broad River Alliance.

“Waterkeeper Alliance is thrilled to have Gray Jernigan to be the eyes, ears, and voice for this vital watershed and community,” says Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Every community deserves to have swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, and Gray is the right leader to fight for clean water in the region.”

Gray Jernigan has extensive experience in environmental law, policy, and advocacy and has worked on land and water conservation issues across the state. He adds his Green Riverkeeper responsibilities to his ongoing role as MountainTrue’s Southern Regional Director, serving Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties. Gray received his undergraduate degrees from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a master’s degree and a law degree from Vermont Law School.

The Green Riverkeeper got a head start on April 8 by partnering with the Green River paddling community on a clean-up effort covering the Upper, Narrows and Lower Green sections. Over 50 people turned out to clear trash and debris from the river and its banks. Car tires, a home water heater, and assorted trash and litter were enough to overflow a dumpster, not including recyclables that were separated!

Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan showing off the trophies and prizes for volunteers participating in the Green River Spring Cleaning on April 8.

Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan showing off the trophies and prizes for volunteers participating in the Green River Spring Cleaning on April 8.

Gray will be present to meet the community at the 11th Annual Spring Green River Bash at Green River Adventures in Saluda on Saturday, May 6. Fifty percent of the ticket price for river, zipline, and rappelling trips booked for the day of the festival will be donated by Green River Adventures and The Gorge to help fund the work of the Green Riverkeeper. Book your trip for May 6 at greenriveradventures.com with the code: GREENRIVERKEEPER

Event Details:
What: 11th Annual Spring Green Bash
Who: presented by Green River Adventures and sponsored by Oskar Blues Brewery, Prestige Subaru, WNCW and Liquidlogic Kayaks. Music by the Honeycutters. A portion of proceeds benefit MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper.
Where: Green River Adventures, 111 E. Main Street, Saluda, NC
When: Saturday, May 6, 5:30-9 p.m.

“I’m thrilled to get such a warm welcome to the community from Green River Adventures and all the generous sponsors of the Green Spring Bash, including Oskar Blues, Prestige Subaru, WNCW and Liquidlogic Kayaks,” says Gray Jernigan, the Green Riverkeeper. “We have a lot of great activities and programs planned for the year ahead; I’m looking forward to meeting some folks and getting people involved in protecting the Green River.”

“MountainTrue is proud of our partnership with the Waterkeeper Alliance,” says Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue. “Our Riverkeepers fight for safe and healthy waterways for all citizens of their watersheds by bringing together and empowering local residents and communities to identify pollution sources, advocate for and enforce environmental laws, and engage in restoration. We’re thrilled to be bringing this program to our Green River communities.

“Gray will have an incredibly important job. Waterkeepers defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water, from law-breaking polluters to irresponsible government officials, says Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance. “Until our public agencies have the means necessary to protect us from polluters, and the will to enforce the law, there will always be a great need for people like Gray to fight for our right to clean water.”

Upcoming Riverkeeper Projects and Events:

  • May 27 – Big Hungry River clean-up
  • July 5 – Come help clean up Lake Summit
    For more information on Green Riverkeeper programs and events: mountaintrue.org

About MoutainTrue:
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 Broad River Alliance, French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper and Watauga Riverkeeper — the protectors and defenders of their respective watersheds. www.mountaintrue.org

About Waterkeeper Alliance:
Waterkeeper Alliance is a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper Organizations and Affiliates around the world, focusing citizen advocacy on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect over 2.5 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa. For more information please visit: www.waterkeeper.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.

MT Raleigh Report | April 4, 2017 – Stream Dangers

MT Raleigh Report | April 4, 2017 – Stream Dangers

In this installment of MTRaleigh – Rumors, deal-making and legislating surrounding the repeal of HB2 sucked up much of the air at the General Assembly this past week. In this edition of MTRaleigh, we’ll look at the danger to streams posed by legislation moving through the legislature and give a quick overview of HB2 drama.

Stream Dangers

This year’s version of the Regulatory Reform bill is moving through the General Assembly at a pretty good clip. It has already passed the Senate and has been voted out of committee on the House side. We expect to see it on the House floor early in the week.

As you probably remember, these “reform” bills often mean rolling back or weakening environmental protections. This year is no different. Of particular concern are the sections on stream mitigation. The bill includes a provision that requires the state to formally request a change from the Army Corps of Engineers to double the length of stream damage (from 150 feet to 300 feet) before developers are required to pay into a fund that supports stream repair in other parts of the state to offset the damage their projects have. The bill would also completely eliminate mitigation requirements for intermittent streams. In addition to funding stream restoration, these rules also act as an important incentive for developers to limit the impact of their projects.

While some legislators called the current regulations overly burdensome, Upper Neuse Riverkeeper Matthew Starr said that the flooding the state experienced during Hurricane Matthew demonstrates why the changes are bad policy.

“Just months after the worst recorded flood on the Neuse from Matthew the first bill that we’re doing with streams will ensure that we have exponentially higher risk from flooding,” Starr said during committee hearings.

HB2 Repeal, Reset, Redux?

Late Wednesday night GOP legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper announced an agreement to repeal House Bill 2. On Thursday, both the GOP Senate and the GOP House approved the new legislation, with liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans voting against the compromise bill.  Governor Cooper signed the legislation Thursday afternoon.

To date, the HB2 debate has taken up an enormous amount of time and energy, delaying the legislature’s consideration of a number of other important but less high-profile issues. With the HB2 issue now settled, look for the General Assembly to go into overdrive on a wide range of other bills and issues – the budget, tax reform and energy policy among them.

The legislation approved last week:

  • Repeals House Bill 2 in its entirety
  • Reserves the authority to regulate bathrooms to the state, essentially returning to the status quo before Charlotte passed a 2016 ordinance allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity.
  • Enacts a moratorium on similar local ordinances until Dec. 1, 2020.

Gov. Cooper and business leaders – including the NC Chamber of Commerce – supported the new legislation, which reportedly will meet the requirements of the ACC, NCAA and the NBA to consider locating sporting events in North Carolina.

LGBT civil rights organizations, including Equality North Carolina, opposed the bill, arguing that it continues discrimination against transgender people. HB2 supporters also opposed the new bill, arguing that it abandons the privacy protections for women and children in the original legislation.

Hendersonville Rep. Chuck McGrady was deeply involved in the extensive negotiations on the HB2 compromise. You can find an interview with him on the issue here.

In other news of interest to WNC environmentalists –

State hosts public meeting in Asheville on Duke Energy’s coal ash plans

What to Know About Trump’s Order to Dismantle the Clean Power Plan

Despite renewable energy’s impressive gains, NC lawmakers move to limit it


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.

Tell Congress to Take AmeriCorps Off the Chopping Block

Tell Congress to Take AmeriCorps Off the Chopping Block

Tell Congress to Take AmeriCorps Off the Chopping Block

Meet Laura McPherson, Mary Kate Dodge and Jack Henderson, MountainTrue’s hardworking and dedicated AmeriCorps.

 

IMG_0582

Mary Kate Dodge (L) and Laura McPherson (R)

Laura McPherson is our Forest Keeper. She combats non-native invasive plant species and restores native plant habitats by coordinating and leading volunteer work days and invasive species educational programs. Mary Kate Dodge is our Outings and Outreach Coordinator; she helps organize our educational events and helps us raise awareness about the work we do protecting Western North Carolina’s environment. Jack Henderson is our Water Quality Administrator and runs our river cleanups and water testing and monitoring programs.

Their work is critical to our mission.

Each year, AmeriCorps Project Conserve places more than three dozen dedicated members with local environmental nonprofits. Since its inception, 268 members have served 455,600 hours, increasing community understanding of conservation and the environment and creating sustainable improvements to at-risk ecosystems in our communities.

Jack Henderson (center) with a group of volunteers after a river cleanup.

Jack Henderson (center) with a group of volunteers after a river cleanup.

The federal agency that supports the AmeriCorps service program — The Corporation for National & Community Service — is at risk! It is one of 18 agencies that are recommended for elimination in the White House’s recent budget proposal.

Please take a moment to call your Congress members and let them know that AmeriCorps is making a difference in our community.

NC Senator Richard Burr (202) 224-3154
NC Senator Thom Tillis (202) 224-6342
NC Representative Mark Meadows (202) 225-6401
NC Representative Patrick McHenry (202) 225-2576
Click here to find your Senator: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/senators_cfm.cfm
Click here to find your Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/


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.

Photos from Our SMIE Water Quality Training in Henderson Co.

Photos from Our SMIE Water Quality Training in Henderson Co.

SMIE 1On Saturday, March 11, MountainTrue held our Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) bio-monitoring training at Blue Ridge Community College.

MountainTrue volunteers monitor stream health throughout Henderson County and go out into the field to do bio-monitoring twice per year, in April and October. Through the SMIE bio-monitoring program, we sample aquatic macro-invertebrates, or aquatic insects, as indicators of water quality. Bugs tell us a lot about the health and vitality of our rivers and streams.

Participants learned basic stream ecology, how to identify aquatic macro-invertebrates, why macro-invertebrates are terrific indicators of water quality, and the sampling protocol. The event was led by MountainTrue Water Quality Administrator Jack Henderson and volunteer members of the Clean Water Team.

After a morning classroom session, the class headed out to the Big Hungry River field side, where participants got to put their newly learned sampling methods and identification knowledge to practice.

Thank you to Blue Ridge Community College for hosting!



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.