Honoring David Malpass: Co-Founder of ECO and WNC Environmental Hero

Honoring David Malpass: Co-Founder of ECO and WNC Environmental Hero

Honoring David Malpass: Co-Founder of ECO and WNC Environmental Hero

David MalpassDavid Malpass passed away on May 17. He co-founded, along with his wife Mary Jo Padgett, the Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO) — an environmental nonprofit that thrived in Henderson County for 27 years and later merged with the Western North Carolina Alliance and the Jackson Macon Conservation Alliance to become MountainTrue.

With ECO, David and Mary Jo helped establish an organization with a lasting legacy of getting people out into the natural world, and empowering them to protect our environment.

“David had a powerful spirit, and was quick to win people over with his charm and good looks, but it was his passion and love of nature that drove his actions,” says Katie Breckheimer, MountainTrue’s Board president.

“David Malpass was a character — a pied piper-type of character,” explains Chuck McGrady, North Carolina Representative and former executive director of ECO. “He was passionate about the things that were important to him, with a quick smile and no fear of expressing his feelings.”

Kevin Gaylor, a former ECO member, remembers David fondly. “David always struck me as a kind of Moses figure with his booming voice, just having come down from the mountain with tablets in his hands. He was full of passion, vision and laughter, and these qualities are what put Hendersonville’s environmental movement in motion.”

Under his tenure, volunteers designed and built a nature trail in a large county park, soon followed by a volunteer-built boardwalk into the park’s wetlands. “Whenever I visit Jackson Park and walk the trails, I’ll think of David and his work in making this community more connected with the natural world,” says his friend Gary Eblen.

A proud tree-hugger, David pushed for the creation of Hendersonville’s first tree ordinance in 1989, and then became a member of its first Tree Board. In a partnership with the American Chestnut Foundation, experimental disease-resistant chestnut trees were planted around the county.

The community’s 1990 20th Anniversary Earth Day celebration was a grand event of epic proportion thanks to the leadership of the newly formed ECO. When a waste incinerator was proposed for the community, ECO made sure there were educational public forums about the technology, and organized the community to ensure that the plant would be located elsewhere. These efforts are only part of the legacy that David Malpass left behind. He will be sorely missed.


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.

We Need To Continue Civic Conversation on Wildfire, Then Act

We Need To Continue Civic Conversation on Wildfire, Then Act


We Need To Continue the Civic Conversation on Wildfire, Then Act


Last year (2016), the Southeast experienced a historic wildfire season that raged across northern Georgia, eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Firefighters from 21 states converged on the region to combat fires that destroyed more than 150,000 acres. In Tennessee, the Chimney Tops 2 fire destroyed sections of the city of Gatlinburg and claimed 14 lives. In North Carolina, the fires forced evacuation, threatened homes and blanketed our region with an acrid haze that was bad for both human health and our local economies.

These fires were faster-moving and more dangerous because of several interrelated trends: climate change is making droughts more severe and frequent and creating drier conditions, lean budgets have prevented forest managers from conducting necessary controlled burns and reducing fuel loads, and our region’s population growth has increased the number of people living in the wildland-urban interface — where homes butt up against dense forest and vegetation.

These are important issues that we cannot afford to ignore. MountainTrue has been working to facilitate a better understanding of wildfire risks. We organized a presentation featuring MountainTrue’s public lands field biologist Josh Kelly and Jim Fox of the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center in December of 2016 and a larger panel discussion of experts on April 3, 2017 at Highland Brewing Company in Asheville featuring Dr. Steve Norman and Dr. Katie Greenberg of the US Forest Service, Adam Warwick who is the fire and stewardship manager for The Nature Conservancy’s Southern Blue Ridge Program; and Joan Walker, campaigns director with MountainTrue, who is an expert on community planning. We will continue with wildfire-themed events in Highlands and the High Country.

Raising awareness will not be enough. We need to take action at every level. Homeowners can take the first step by implementing the recommendations of the Firewise Communities Program (firewise.org) which is co-sponsored by USDA Forest Service, the US Department of the Interior, and the National Association of State Foresters, and encourages individuals to take personal responsibility for preparing their home from the risk of wildfire. Similarly, local governments, home builders and communities should implement the standards and best practices set out by the Fire Adapted Communities coalition (fireadapted.org).

Lastly, counties within Western North Carolina historically have had an aversion to zoning and regulation. In the face of rapid population growth, civic leaders should embrace common sense policies regarding construction near steep slopes, and zoning to encourage urban density. Not only would these help combat sprawl and help maintain the attractive vistas that our mountain economies depend upon, they would are also crucial to keeping our communities safe from the growing threat of wildfires.


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 | June 8, 2017 – A Bit of Good News

MountainTrue Raleigh Report | June 8, 2017 – A Bit of Good News

MountainTrue Raleigh Report | June 8, 2017 – A Bit of Good News

A Bit of Good News

Late last week, the House approved its version of the state’s budget by a vote of 80-31. The good news is that on state funding for the NC Department of Environmental Quality, the House refused to go along with the Senate, which made staggering cuts to the Department’s ability to protect our air, water and public health.

A BIG thanks to all the MountainTrue supporters who called, emailed and wrote lawmakers to oppose these short-sighted cuts.

And by the way, while you’re celebrating, take a quick moment to call or send a quick note or tweet to Rep. Chuck McGrady of Henderson County to thank him for his leadership in improving the House budget for the environment. McGrady has a key leadership role in the House budget process and led the charge against the Senate’s DEQ cuts. His twitter handle is @ChuckMcGrady and you can email him at Chuck.McGrady@ncleg.net.

Unfortunately, our work protecting the agency that protects our water and air is not complete. With approval of the House budget comes the final step in the budget – conference. Conference is shorthand for the process the House and Senate use to work out their final, compromise budget before sending it to the Governor for signature (or veto).

The arrival of conference means we need to let lawmakers know, again, that we want DEQ to have the financial resources its needs to keep protect our natural resources.

So….Time to Contact Lawmakers Again

That means it is time to contact our legislators again, especially senators. You can click here to use our system to locate and contact your legislators. If you have time, please consider calling, as their offices are inundated with email this time of year. Keep it short and sweet – tell them to support the House funding for DEQ and oppose the Senate’s cuts to the agency.

The Curious Path of A Bad Transportation Bill

Another issue MountainTrue is working on is Raleigh got quite a bit of attention last week  – bill a establishing a new fund for transportation “megaprojects” of statewide or regional importance that cost more than $200 million. In North Carolina – which has a long history of mixing politics with transportation funding decisions to the detriment of the environment – we use something called the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) program to prioritize how transportation funds should be spent across the state. STI was approved by the GOP legislature several years ago, with support from MountainTrue and other environmental groups, which welcomed it as a rational, transparent way to make these decisions.

Which brings us to the megaprojects bill, which would do an end-run run around the STI and leave decisions about how to spend the megaprojects money to a small committee within the NC Department of Transportation.

The bill had a curious pathway to an abrupt ending. It was approved by the House despite significant opposition within the House GOP caucus and much speculation that it would die a quick death in the Senate, where several key legislators were quite vocal about how much they disliked the bill. Yet when it arrived in the Senate, the bill moved quickly and easily through the committee process – much to the chagrin of MountainTrue and other opponents, who were repeatedly reassured not to worry about the bill. The mystery was solved when the bill hit the full Senate – where it was defeated overwhelmingly, with just one yes vote (from WNC Senator Jim Davis).

So what happened? Under Senate rules, a bill that is defeated on the floor cannot be taken up again during the session. So the Senate apparently disliked the megaprojects bill so much, they took the unusual step of driving the ultimate political stake through its heart – and killing the megaprojects proposal for not just the rest of this session but for the 2018 session as well. Thanks to all our WNC Senators – both Republican and Democrat – who voted against this legislation.


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.

Blitz the Bluff with MountainTrue

Blitz the Bluff with MountainTrue

 

Blitz the Bluff with MountainTrue

Second Annual Bluff Mountain Bio-Blitz To Inventory Diverse Ecosystem

Hot Springs, N.C. — Join MountainTrue on the second annual Bluff Mountain Bio-blitz happening on Saturday, June 3 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 – 43 Andrews Ave N, Hot Springs, NC 28743
When: June 3, 2016 at 8 a.m.
RSVP and Details at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-bluff-mountain-bio-blitz-tickets-34519919007?aff=es2

This event is open to the public and donations are suggested. Blitzers will have the option of taking part in either moderate or strenuous hikes led by expert-level naturalists.  

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 ornithologists, botanists, ecologists, mycologists, entomologists and lichenologists.  

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue fosters and empowers communities throughout the region and engages in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on the ground projects. To achieve our goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality and promoting clean energy – all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our residents. MountainTrue is the home of the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers; the French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed; and Broad River Alliance, a Waterkeeper Affiliate working to promote fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in the Broad River Basin. For more information: 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.

Riverkeeper Beer Series Launches with River Float, Clean-up and Mango IPA from Hi-Wire Brewing

Riverkeeper Beer Series Launches with River Float, Clean-up and Mango IPA from Hi-Wire Brewing

Riverkeeper Beer Series Launches with River Float Clean-up and Mango IPA from Hi-Wire Brewing

Asheville, N.C. — Saturday, June 17 the French Broad Riverkeeper Beer Series presented by MountainTrue and Blue Ridge Orthodontics and sponsored by Mix 96.5 launches its second summer full of great beers and fun in the water. Pick, paddle and party this summer. The kick off event will take place at HiWire’s Big Top location in Biltmore Village, and participants will have the choice of taking part in either a river clean-up on the Swannanoa River or a float trip on the French Broad River, and everyone is invited to  meet back up at the release party of Hi-Wire Brewing’s new, limited-release MountainTrue Mango IPA. Tickets for the June 17 event are available on Eventbrite.

This is the first of five French Broad Riverkeeper Beer Series events that will include river cleanups and float trips on the French Broad River. Floaters and clean-up volunteers are then invited to sample a new limited-release beer from one of fiveparticipating breweries, including Hi-Wire Brewing, New Belgium Brewing, Oskar Blues Brewery, Wedge Brewing Company and Wicked Weed Brewing. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of these very special beers goes to support the work of the French Broad Riverkeeper protecting the French Broad River watershed.

Each French Broad Riverkeeper Beer Series event will also be co-sponsored by a local outdoor gear manufacturer who will donate prizes, apparel and gear that will be raffled off at the release parties to support the cause. Supporting gear builders include Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO), Liquid Logic Kayaks, Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), and Watershed.

Quote from French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson:

Asheville and the region love the French Broad River and the French Broad Riverkeeper Beer Series is a great way to celebrate that. Come out and celebrate and support our beautiful French Broad River and try one of these unique beers. It’s great way to enjoy summer in Asheville and support our work keeping the French Broad River a clean and safe place for people to paddle and play.

The Riverkeeper Beer Series includes the August 3 Save the French Broad River Concert starring Michael Franti & Spearhead. Tickets for the concert are on sale now. General Admission is $31 advance / $36 at the door. VIP tickets are $100. VIP ticket holders will have an opportunity to attend a short, intimate acoustic set by Michael Franti prior to the show, access to food by Salvage Station, reserved viewing area with private bar during the main concert, and complimentary special release beers from our Riverkeeper Beer Series. Buy Tickets for the Save the French Broad Concert on Eventbrite

Quote from Nikki Mitchell, Director of Marketing at Mix 96.5:

The French Broad River is certainly something to celebrate and organizing clean ups and floats across the region can introduce people to new areas of the river as well as new people to the water in general. And what better way to celebrate than getting out and floating down the French Broad River.

MountainTrue and Mix 96.5 present the French Broad Riverkeeper Beer Series:

  • June 17 – River clean-up and float with a beer release party at Hi-Wire Brewing Big Top.
    Buy ticket on Eventbrite.
  • July 8 – River float with a beer release party at Wedge Brewing Co. at The Foundation.
  • July 29 – Beer release party at Wicked Weed Brewing
  • August 3 – Save the French Broad River Concert featuring Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Salvage Station. Get your tickets here:
    Buy Tickets on Eventbrite
  • August 12 – River float with a beer release party at Oskar Blues Brewery
  • August 19 – River clean-up and float with beer release party at New Belgium Brewing.

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue fosters and empowers communities throughout the region and engages in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on the ground projects. To achieve our goals, MountainTrue focuses on a core set of issues across 23 counties of Western North Carolina: sensible land use, restoring public forests, protecting water quality and promoting clean energy – all of which have a high impact on the environmental health and long-term prosperity of our residents. MountainTrue is the home of the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers; the French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed; and Broad River Alliance, a Waterkeeper Affiliate working to promote fishable, swimmable, drinkable waters in the Broad River Basin. For more information: 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.

MT Raleigh Report | May 18, 2017 — Assault on the Environment

MT Raleigh Report | May 18, 2017 — Assault on the Environment

MT Raleigh Report | May 18, 2017 — Assault on the Environment

In this week’s MountainTrue Raleigh Report: The General Assembly’s assault on the state’s environmental protection agency (and what you can do about it), MountainTrue in Raleigh and the environment grows our economy.

The Assault on NC’s Department of Environmental Quality

Last week at the General Assembly was all about the budget. As you may remember, Governor Cooper released his proposed FY17-18 and FY18-19 budget proposal in March. Now the General Assembly has started the process of approving the state’s $23 billion spending plan. Unfortunately, when Senate Republicans released their budget plan very late on Tuesday night, they published the latest chapter in the GOP legislature’s assault on the environment by slashing funding and positions for the Department of Environmental Quality’s. Contact your State House Reps TODAY and tell them to oppose this budget!

Since 2011, the legislature has cut staff and lowered environmental protections throughout the Department of Environmental Quality — the agency responsible for enforcing state and federal rules that protect our water and our air and our public health. Earlier this year, former DEQ assistant secretary Robin Smith researched the impact of these cuts on DEQ. Not surprisingly, she found that DEQ has experienced large reductions in the environmental staff responsible for protecting our state’s natural resources. She also documented long delays in approval, review and renewal of permits that ensure polluters are complying with state and federal clean water and air protections. You can find Smith’s entire analysis of the impact of the GOP cuts here.

The draft budget released earlier this week by the Senate majority continues this sad story.

Under the Senate budget, DEQ would lose 45 full-time positions. The Senate budget would also eliminate the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service, which helps businesses and communities comply with environmental regulations and permitting. The Division also boosts recycling, energy efficiency and cutting emissions. In addition, $1 million would be cut from DEQ’s energy office under the Senate plan.

The silver lining in the Senate budget includes some modest new investments in the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund and funding to help preserve farmland. The Senate also sets aside $2 million to purchase new firefighting aircraft in the wake of devastating wildfires in Western North Carolina.

But while these investments are laudable, overall the Senate budget represents a staggering threat to the state agency responsible for keeping our air and water clean and protecting the health of millions North Carolinians.

You can read more about the budget on WRAL at and The News & Observer.

MountainTrue in Raleigh

MountainTrue staff members were back in Raleigh this week, meeting with legislators to talk about the budget and other WNC priorities. On the top of our list: funding for DEQ, investments to help farmers comply with clean water rules and to assist mountain communities identify potential landslides. Directors Julie Mayfield and Bob Wagner also met with DEQ staff to discuss more about the ways MountainTrue and the agency can work together.

Our Environment is Good for the Economy

In case you missed it, a new report shows that outdoor recreation is a powerful driver of the economy. The Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Economy Report shows the outdoor recreation industry generates $887 billion in annual consumer spending, directly supports 7.6 million American jobs and generates $125 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue. Yet another reason to get outside and enjoy the beauty of WNC!


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 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.