Turnout for 30th Annual Big Sweep Nearly Quadruples, Volunteers Clean Up 50 miles in WNC

Turnout for 30th Annual Big Sweep Nearly Quadruples, Volunteers Clean Up 50 miles in WNC

Turnout for 30th Annual Big Sweep Nearly Quadruples, Cleans 50 miles in WNC

Collaboration with Community Partners and Expanded Riverkeeper Programs Made this our Biggest Big Sweep Yet

Sept. 26 2017

 

Community members and students turned out to carry 24 bags of trash out of the Guy Ford section of the Watauga River. In total, Big Sweep participants removed 7,810 pounds of trash from Western North Carolina’s waterways.

 

On September 9, more than 253 people from all walks of life turned out to remove more than 7,810 pounds of trash — 3.9 tons! — from Western North Carolina’s waterways as part of our 30th annual NC Big Sweep. Through a series of river and roadside cleanups in Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania, and Watauga counties, Mountaintrue joined key partners Asheville Greenworks, the Waterkeeper Alliance and AmeriCorps Project Conserve to clean 50 miles of rivers and streams.

Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director, confirmed that the Big Sweep’s attendance this year “almost quadrupled” compared to last year. Why was the event such a success? “Thanks to the partnership and coordination with other great local organizations and businesses,” Gray says. “We’ve also recently expanded our Riverkeeper programs to include the Green and Broad Rivers, which builds our geographic reach and volunteer engagement in those areas.”

As a 30th annual event, Big Sweep falls into a long-standing tradition of volunteers in North Carolina cleaning up waterways in their communities. The event could not have happened without Asheville Greenworks, a key leader in the Big Sweep effort, or our Big Sweep sponsors, which included Asheville Outdoor Center, Griffin Waste Services, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Henderson County and French Broad Outfitters.

Fifteen members of the Hendersonville Rotary Club showed up in full force for the event, and were joined by State Senator Chuck Edwards in cleaning up Mud Creek.
“As a volunteer team leader, I find it to be really satisfying work,” said Don Huneycutt, the Big Sweep Team Captain for the Hendersonville Rotary Club. “ It takes a team and some hard work , but when you’re done, you can see that you made a real difference.”

 

A volunteer with the Hendersonville Rotary Club removes a tire from Mud Creek. 

 

Our waterways attract quite the collection of bizarre trash. State Senator Chuck Edwards finds a toy ambulance in Mud Creek. 

 

The Hendersonville Rotary Club with collected trash from Mud Creek. State Senator Chuck Edwards (front row, second from right) joined the group, wearing a MountainTrue hat.

 

The Broad River Alliance named the event their “Sarah Sweep” for the second year in a row in memory of Sarah Spencer, an active volunteer who was 26-years-old when she was killed in a car accident in 2016. The event served Sarah’s memory proud, as 22 volunteers turned out to remove 1400 pounds of trash – including 32 tires! – along five miles of the First Broad River.

The French Broad Riverkeeper’s team was based out of Westfeldt River Park, and mainly received volunteers from Asheville Greenworks and AmeriCorps Project Conserve on the French Broad in Transylvania County. (add numbers from cleanup) When the work was done, the volunteers enjoyed an after party at Westfeldt River Park sponsored by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.

And in the High Country, a team of 20 volunteers cleaned up the Guy Ford section of the Watauga River, which was recently donated to Watauga County by the Blue Ridge Conservancy for recreation. “Thank you to all our amazing volunteers who made the 30th Annual Big Sweep a success,” said Andy Hill, Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue’s High Country Regional Director. “[And] major appreciation to Edgar Peck and the Blue Ridge Conservancy for making Guy Ford Access another place for people to enjoy the Watauga River.” The cleanup crews, consisting mainly of community members and students, filled 24 bags of trash, including a tent, a mattress and a rusty trash can.

Volunteers in all of our regions noticed an abundance of a few particular pieces of trash: plastic bottles and tires. Plastic bottles remain a huge threat to our waterways, and the Big Sweep was a reminder to volunteers and community partners that litter on our streets often ends up in our streams and rivers as stormwater runoff. By tackling the problem at the source, efforts to reduce littering and careless garbage disposal can greatly reduce the burdens on our waterways each year.

Big Sweep participants also collected at least 115 tires this year, and some groups even had designated Tire Teams to remove them. Tires often end up in waterways because they are seen as too difficult or expensive to dispose of properly. Dumped in streams, they become environmental hazards. The best way to recycle tires is through your local county recycling program. Henderson and Transylvania counties will dispose of five tires for free per household, per year; Buncombe County accepts 10. For other items that are difficult to recycle, from packing peanuts, to printer cartridges, to dog crates, take note of Asheville Greenworks’ Hard-2-Recycle events here.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, community partners, and sponsors that made the Big Sweep happen this year. By helping us fund our Green, Broad, French Broad and Watauga Riverkeeper programs, you’re helping to remove thousands of pounds of trash from our waterways every year. We hope you’ll join us in your gloves and rain boots next year to make the next Big Sweep an even bigger success.

 

AmeriCorps Project Conserve Members clean up the French Broad River in kayaks. 


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.

New Riverkeeper Report: Dead in the Water

New Riverkeeper Report: Dead in the Water

New Riverkeeper Report: Dead in the Water

The North Carolina Riverkeepers have released a new report: Dead in the Water: Environmental Enforcement in North Carolina. This the first comprehensive report that details the work of Riverkeepers across North Carolina.

Dead in the waterOur state has a proud history of environmental protection. However, 2016 was a year of vast devastation and increased pollution, from storms, the burgeoning hog and chicken industries, coal ash and other chemicals and abuses. Contributing to the problem were environmental officials who turned a blind eye to the problems and were slow to respond to issues. Combine this with State government that attempted to roll back protections and you have a state where Riverkeepers had to work harder than ever to protect our waters.

Read all about their work by clicking here.


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.

2016 MoutainTrue Awards Recipients Announced

2016 MoutainTrue Awards Recipients Announced

MoutainTrue Awards Recipients Announced

From left to right: Jack Dalton of Hot Springs Mountain Club, which was named Partner of the Year; Jane Laping, one of our Volunteers of the Year; Brownie Newman, Elected Official of the Year; Neill Yelverton, Leesa Sluder, Peter Krull, Kerry Keihn and Catherine Campbell of Krull & Company–named Green Business of the Year; Doreen Blue, our other Volunteer of the Year; and Will Harlan, recipient of The Esther Cunningham Award. Download high resolution image.

Asheville, NC — MountainTrue announced the winners of the MountainTrue Awards, which were at the organization’s Fall Gathering held at New Belgium Brewing Company in Asheville on October 26. Award honorees are recognized for their hard work and dedication to protecting our forests, mountains, rivers and streams, and to promoting clean energy and sustainability. The 2016 MountainTrue Award winners are:

The Esther Cunningham Award | Honoree: Will Harlan of Barnardsville
MountainTrue presents this award in the name of Esther Cunningham, a Macon County resident whose concern for the environment prompted her to found the Western North Carolina Alliance (now part of MountainTrue). The award is presented to a MountainTrue member who has demonstrated outstanding community service in conserving our natural resources.

Will Harlan is an award-winning writer and editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine and an elite, long distance runner uses his talents to bring attention to environmental issues. Each year, Will travels to the Copper Canyon of Mexico to work alongside the indigenous Tarahumara farmers to establish seed banks, goat herds and clean water projects. Here in WNC, he’s been a committed advocate for the conservation of public lands and wild places. Will has long advocated for the protection of the Big Ivy section of Pisgah National Forest, and was instrumental in getting a pro-Wilderness resolution adopted by unanimous vote by the Buncombe County Commissioners asking Congress to designate expanded wilderness for the Big Ivy and Craggy Mountain areas. Will also played an active role in promoting the win-win MOU put forth by a coalition of wilderness advocates, conservationist and recreation groups that supports more trails and more public access, and also protects more backcountry and more wild places.

Green Business Award | Honoree: Krull & Company – Socially Responsible Financial Services
MountainTrue presents the Green Business Award to a local Western North Carolina business that has exhibited leadership in implementing green practices, getting other businesses to make their operations more sustainable or engaging in environmental advocacy.

Krull & Company is a certified B Corporation supporting the environment through the investments they make for their clients. From alternative energy to energy efficiency, water, natural and organic food and products and technology, Krull and Company focuses on positive, next economy companies, and exclude fossil fuels and other environmental offenders from their client portfolios. Krull & Company ensures their clients money is invested in a way that honors environmental values, and use the power of shareholder advocacy to drive corporate change from the inside.  

Volunteers of the Year Award | Jane Laping of Asheville and Doreen Blue of Hendersonville
MountainTrue presents the Volunteer of the Year Award to an individual(s) who has demonstrated consistent commitment by volunteering time at events, on program work, or through other MountainTrue activities. This year, we gave out two awards to some very deserving recipients.

Doreen Blue moved to Hendersonville from Rhode Island in 2005 and immediately got involved with ECO, one of the three organizations that merged to form MountainTrue. She started by joining our hikes, then took the training for the SMIE program to do macroinvertebrate biomonitoring in local streams. She now helps coordinate that program as part of our Clean Water Team. Doreen also takes monthly water quality samples for our VWIN program to help on zero in sources of water pollution. She has worked on Henderson County Big Sweep and Earth Day celebrations, been a member of the Recycling Team for the last 5 years, and organizes MountainTrue’s annual community-wide Christmas tree recycling program in Hendersonville. Doreen is a master seamstress, and has made the costumes for our mascots, the Bag Monster and Mr. Can, to promote MountainTrue’s recycling programs in local parades and for educational events.

Jane Laping is one of the founders and a current steering team member of the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina, and as such she empowers faith communities to be advocates for the environment. Jane leads hikes, travels to Raleigh to talk with policy makers, writes grants, testifies at public hearings and plants gardens. She is an active member of First Presbyterian Church where she has helped lead conversations about the Pope’s Encyclical on the Environment, Fossil Fuel Divestment and solar powered electric car chargers for the church parking lot.  

Partner of the Year Award | Hot Springs Mountain Club
MountainTrue presents the Partner of the Year Award to an organization that has been a staunch partner with MountainTrue on key campaigns and programs throughout the past year.

Hot Springs Mountain Club have done a lot for the community over the years, including creating the Betty Place Loop and starting the Bluff Mountain Music Festival. Last year, the club created the new 3.5 mile Bluff Mountain Loop trail. This past year the Hot Springs Mountain Club and MountainTrue partnered on a two-day Bluff Mountain Bio-Blitz to document the incredible diversity of flora and fauna on Bluff. Over 50 people, including 7 college professors participated. It was a great time and over 400 species were identified – including a lichen that had never been seen south of Canada. The Hot Springs Mountain club acted as guides, hosts, and facilitators for the event. Because of the efforts of these local citizens, there is hope that Bluff will be treated as a special place in the new Forest Plan for Pisgah National Forest. Accepting on behalf of the club was Jack Dalton.

WNC Elected Official of the Year | Brownie Newman
MountainTrue presents this award to a city, county, state or federal elected official for either a specific conservation action of singular importance or for a strong and consistent commitment to conservation over time.

Brownie Newman has a distinguished career as an elected official in Asheville and Buncombe County and has worked tirelessly on behalf of the environment. He currently serves on the Buncombe County Commission where he led the county to adopt and begin implementation of a carbon reduction plan, led efforts to protect hemlock trees on county-owned land from the HWA, and now represents the County as co-chair of the Energy Innovation Task Force, which is aimed at reducing electricity usage in Asheville and Buncombe County

Prior to his service on the County Commission, Brownie Newman served two terms on Asheville City Council where he led a number of environmental and sustainability initiatives, including the adoption by the City of a carbon reduction/sustainability plan that continues to drive improvements every year.

About MountainTrue:
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.

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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.

Join us for the MountainTrue Fall Gathering at New Belgium!

Join us for the MountainTrue Fall Gathering at New Belgium!

Wednesday, October 26, join us at New Belgium Brewery in Asheville for our annual Fall Gathering. Expect great beer, delicious food and some sweet, sweet jams from Asheville’s very own The Midnight Plowboys.

THIS EVENT IS FREE AND OPEN TO ALL CURRENT MEMBERS.

MountainTrue 2016 Fall Gathering
Wednesday October 26 from 6 PM to 8 PM
New Belgium Brewery’s Brewhouse
21 Craven Street, Asheville

With our proud mountain heritage, beautiful mountain vistas, lush forests and rushing streams, Western North Carolina is an amazing and special place to call home. The support of our members has helped us fight for our communities and protect one of the richest environments in the world.

Support WNC by renewing your membership and making a donation to MountainTrue today. CLICK HERE.

If you would prefer to send us a check, please make your donation payable to MountainTrue and mail it to us at 29 N. Market St., Suite 610, Asheville, NC 28801.

Thanks to our members and supporters, MountainTrue was voted WNC’s #1 Environmental Group by the readers of Mountain Xpress. Our programs represent you, your values and the issues that you care about. Here are some of the things we’ve accomplished together so far in 2016:

Protecting Our Waters

  • We launched the first monthly water-quality monitoring program in the Watauga River basin with 13 sites monitored by MountainTrue volunteers and staff.

  • We continue fighting Duke Energy in court over its coal-ash pollution at the Cliffside plant in Rutherford County and organized over a hundred people to attend hearings and demand the full clean-up of coal ash pollution.

  • We planted 6,000 live stakes that will grow, stabilize banks, and stop erosion along 12 miles of river frontage in the French Broad River basin.

Preserving Our Public Lands  

  • As a leader in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest planning process, we helped develop a groundbreaking agreement between wilderness, conservation and recreation advocates in support of more trails and public access and more backcountry and wild places.

  • We prevented over 100 acres of clear cutting on Nantahala National Forest, helped eradicate invasive species on the Grandfather Ranger District, and raised awareness of the natural wonders of Bluff Mountain with a BioBlitz that documented over 400 plant species.

Building Vibrant Communities

  • We mobilized over 1,000 comments on the I-26 Connector project in Asheville. In response, NCDOT selected the community-developed and supported Alternative 4B for the bridge section of the project. We celebrate this victory while continuing to work to reduce overall size, improve design, and include more bike/pedestrian infrastructure.

Working for Clean Energy

  • We intervened in Duke Energy’s application for approval of a new natural-gas plant in Asheville and a new peaker plant to be built in 2023. We asserted that Duke had not made its case for additional fossil fuel capacity, and the Public Utilities Commission agreed, declining to approve the extra peaker plant. Now, we are hard at work providing leadership for the new City of Asheville-Buncombe County-Duke Energy partnership to develop and implement a plan to increase energy efficiency and grow our renewable energy infrastructure.

Engaging Citizens

  • After three years of advocacy in support of surrounding neighbors, we achieved victory at the CTS site in Buncombe County when EPA required an interim cleanup of a large pool of subsurface contamination. Next, we will make sure that the long-term cleanup plan is as protective as possible.

  • MountainTrue members and staff took lobbying trips during the 2016 legislative session to be your voice in Raleigh. We are also hosting “meet and greets” between our members and candidates vying to replace our retiring WNC legislators.

  • We brought nationally renowned evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe to  Asheville. She met with 80 faith leaders at a prayer breakfast and addressed more than 300 people in the First Baptist Church sanctuary.

BECOME A MOUNTAINTRUE MEMBER AND BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT FOR A BETTER WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. CLICK HERE.

Thank you for your generous support of our work!


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.