Villains Invade the Non-native Invasives at Richmond Hill Park!

Villains Invade the Non-native Invasives at Richmond Hill Park!


Villains Invade the Non-native Invasives at Richmond Hill Park!


By Bob Gale

It’s not often that our office gets inquiries from villains — especially bearded villains! Well okay, actually we’ve never gotten such an inquiry. At least, not until this summer.

In my position as Ecologist & Public Lands Director, I’m accustomed to high school, college, and even business groups contacting us to volunteer for any service projects we might have in restoring the areas of the natural environment. But in July, one J.J. Holt called and offered help from his group of folks scattered across North Carolina who call themselves the “Bearded Villains.”

“We all have beards,” JJ said. “And our mission is to offer our services to any organization needing help with physical labor on outdoor projects.”

I offered him one of our non-native invasive plant work days at Asheville’s Richmond Hill Park forest, not quite knowing who these people were or what to expect from them. It didn’t take long to find out.

They showed up promptly on a Saturday in August. Remarkably, some of these volunteers came from three and four hours away to perform our half day’s volunteer work in the Park. We were in the middle of an unusually hot and humid stretch of weather with temperatures in the low 90’s that had plagued the area during the summer. The Villains ranged in age, build and apparent fitness, and they weren’t all guys – three young women came along, as well. (They did not have beards!)

In our round of introductions, I learned of the various towns and regions in the state where each lived. Their positive attitudes were infectious and set a happy tone for the day. As I gave the usual plant identification and safety training, I emphasized that we would be hiking up and down some long steep hills in reaching and returning from our target work area in the forest. Feeling the oppressive heat and humidity, and knowing that this gung ho crew came from level topography, there was some question in my mind as to how they would survive the day in our mountain terrain, and what they would be able to accomplish.

This question was wonderfully answered over the next four hours. Despite the strenuous walk and somewhat backbreaking work of bending over repeatedly to pull Japanese Stiltgrass, cut and paint Oriental bittersweet and Chinese privet, or fight the vicious thorns of Multiflora rose, the Villains performed admirably! As with any group, some were more fast-paced and meticulous, while others moved more slowly and clearly “felt the pain.” But they all worked heroically through the day, while spouting jokes and laughter which made it all fun and tolerable.

And, the Park’s native ecology was enhanced! Because of the Villains’ efforts, literally thousands of plants were pulled or treated before they could produce hundreds of thousands of seeds. Those seeds would have resulted in an extensive new crop of invasive exotic plants in 2017. Instead, hundreds of suppressed native plants were given space and light for growth, and many of their seeds, roots and tubers, long buried in the soil and waiting patiently for the opportunity, will now be able to sprout!

The Bearded Villains turned out to be “villains” only to non-native invasive plants! We at MountainTrue, appreciate their efforts, and they have offered to take part in more of our organization’s future volunteer opportunities!



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.

Henderson County Big Sweep Hauls 4,400 Lbs of Trash from Local Rivers and Streams

Henderson County Big Sweep Hauls 4,400 Lbs of Trash from Local Rivers and Streams


Henderson County Big Sweep Hauls 4,400 Lbs of Trash from Local Rivers and Streams

On Saturday, September 10, volunteers banded together to sweep Henderson County of as much garbage as possible! Nine teams of volunteers were formed including Mills River Partnership, Friends of Wash Cree, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Rotary Club, Cub Scout Troop 603, Mud Creek, East Hendersonville High School, Sierra Nevada and more!


This year’s haul far exceeded last year’s success. The 2016 Henderson County Big Sweep recruited 63 volunteers who served a total of 169 hours! We swept 11 miles of local rivers, picked up 24 tires, 81 bags of trash for a grand total of approximately 4,400 pounds of trash and recycling. What a successful event!

Don Huneycutt and 13 others from the Rotary Club of Hendersonville cleaned out 2,030 lbs. of debris from just Mud Creek. Under the leadership of Don, their team captain and the Henderson County Big Sweep coordinator for the past two years, they removed car and tractor trailer tires, and other trash that cluttered the waterway.

In 2005, the Rotary club joined the Adopt-A- Stream program, dedicated to improving the conditions of the water sources in our community, and adopted a portion of Mud Creek which runs directly through the town of Hendersonville and can become unsightly with garbage and trash discarded carelessly on its banks and in its waters.

“In the past six years, it has not been unusual for our team to remove up to 2000 lbs of debris from Mud Creek in a four hour period,” says Big Sweep team captain, Don Huneycutt. “It takes teamwork and hard work to safely collect all the items from both the creek and the banks and then transfer everything to a central collection point for pickup by the city. Teamwork and hard work also make for a satisfying and fun time”

MountainTrue wants to thank all of the volunteers who gave so much of their time and made this event possible! An important part of calling a region home is taking the time to care for it, and the rivers in Henderson County are better off with 4,400 fewer pounds of garbage floating in them.

Be on the look out for next year’s event and join in on the fun!




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.

WNC Vote Tracker provides transparency on legislators’ votes on new laws that impact residents in 20 western counties

WNC Vote Tracker provides transparency on legislators’ votes on new laws that impact residents in 20 western counties


WNC Vote Tracker provides transparency on legislators’ votes on new laws that impact residents in 20 western counties

Before you go to the polls on November 8, find out how your legislators have voted on the issues that are most important to you. The nonpartisan website WNC Vote Tracker provides information on important legislation in six categories: Economic Security; Education; Environment; Health & Safety; and Women’s Issues. The WNC Vote Tracker also offers an overview of the state budget—arguably the most important legislation passed each year. 

WNC Vote Tracker is available at www.wncvotetracker.org.

Lead partners of the WNC Vote Tracker include: Children First/ Communities In Schools, Just Economics, Pisgah Legal Services, MountainTrue, and Women for Women.

The guide highlights bills in the following categories:

  • Economic Security: unemployment insurance eligibility, health insurance, housing security, access to public assistance, living wages, and the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Education: issues of access to, and quality of, public education.
  • Environment: air and water quality and other natural resources.
  • Health and safety: health insurance, building safety, child safety, and reproductive health.
  • Government and Democracy: local control of water resources, election and voting law changes, and repeal of the Racial Justice Act.
  • Women: chosen for the additional impact they have on women’s health, economic opportunity, and rights.

The sponsors and partners of this effort represent a diversity of issues such as education, health, environment, women, and children. They come together with this effort to strengthen our democracy through accountability and informed citizen participation.

WNC Vote Tracker is available at www.wncvotetracker.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.

Buncombe County Passes Wilderness Resolution for Big Ivy and Craggy Wilderness with Unanimous Vote

Buncombe County Passes Wilderness Resolution for Big Ivy and Craggy Wilderness with Unanimous Vote


Buncombe County Passes Wilderness Resolution for Big Ivy and Craggy Wilderness with Unanimous Vote

On Tuesday, September 20, the Buncombe County Commissioners voted unanimously for resolution asking Congress to designate expanded wilderness for the Big Ivy area of the Pisgah National Forest. MountainTrue’s Josh Kelly was in attendance along with more than 150 people showing their support for wilderness protections.

 

Image courtesy of Dogwood Alliance

Craggy Wilderness Study Area was created by Congress in 1975 as a 2,572 acre area below Craggy Pinnacle.  In the current forest plan revision, the Forest Service identified a 10,652 acre area that could be suitable as Wilderness, but has proposed only 3,450 areas to be recommended to Congress as Wilderness.

Friends of Big Ivy, a local citizens group, along with MountainTrue and more than 40 other organizations and businesses (MOU signers) have proposed an area of approximately 7,900 acres be protected as Craggy Mountain Wilderness. The resolution by Buncombe County called on the Forest Service to recommend the entire 7,900 acre area as Wilderness.

This would be the first and only wilderness in Buncombe County and will not affect the trail network and will not change any current uses of Big Ivy. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and fishing will all continue to be allowed. The wilderness boundaries have been carefully drawn so that all mountain bike trails are outside the recommended area. No roads or trails will be closed to anyone. The wilderness recommendation will simply prohibit logging and development in trail-less, high-elevation areas of Big Ivy where most of the old-growth forests are located. Wilderness designation will best protect historical uses like hunting, fishing, camping and swimming and the unique ecological features of this special place. We want to keep Big Ivy just the way it is – wild, scenic, adventurous, and uncut.

On September 20th, more than 30 people spoke in favor of the resolution over a two hour period, and no one in attendance was opposed. Biology professors from Mars Hill College, UNC-Asheville, and Warren Wilson all spoke in favor of the resolution, as did a former Forest Service employee, Barnardsville residents, multi-generational families, children, and representatives of local environmental groups. The commissioners unanimously approved the resolution, noting that the area was already wilderness and hadn’t been designated yet. Commissioner Belcher noted that his faith led him to vote yes as a way of affirming the greatness of God’s creation. Commission Chair David Gantt said, “I think we do wonderful things when we look ahead and do things for future generations.”


There are over 2 million acres of National Forests throughout Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee, and these public lands are an incredible resource and economic driver for the region. Every 10-20 years, the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest is required to have a new management plan that outlines the direction of the Forest. The Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest is currently revising its plan and as a part of our commitment to resilient forests, MountainTrue helps shape this plan to ensure that we are protecting our forests and our communities. To learn more about this work, read about our Public Lands programs.

Download a pdf of the resolution.


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.

On Election Day, Vote Yes for Asheville

On Election Day, Vote Yes for Asheville


On Election Day, Vote Yes for Asheville

This November, City of Asheville residents will all have an opportunity to vote on a $74 million bond package to provide funds for improvements in the City’s affordable housing, multimodal transportation and parks. These projects will  make life even better for all who call Asheville home and pay it forward to our local environment.

MountainTrue has joined the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County and many more who support the Asheville Bonds. The Bonds will fund projects that will make it easier to get around town with healthy, environmentally friendly transportation options like walking, biking and public transportation. Affordable housing initiatives will make our community more equitable and protect our mountains and countryside by encouraging smart, affordable housing downtown. The Bonds will improve and expand our parks–perfect places for the next generation of environmental advocates to connect with nature.

 


We can afford this: If all three bonds are approved, there would be a 4.15 cent-maximum increase in Asheville property taxes. At the most that would mean around $9 extra a month per year in taxes on a home valued at $275,000. With interest rates at an all time low and all the value we’ll add with Bond-funded projects, we can’t afford to not approve them!

If approved, the Bonds will fund projects that are already planned and vetted by the community but are not currently funded. We’re especially excited about the new greenway extensions and connectors and almost a dozen new sidewalk projects. There are also plenty of improvements to existing sidewalks and other pedestrian infrastructure to make it safer to get around town on foot and bike!

We think these Bonds are a great investment in Asheville’s future and the environment, and we hope you’ll join us in supporting them this Election Day. Spread the word by Liking and Sharing AVLBondsYes on Facebook.


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.

October 8: Migratory Bird Walk & Talk with Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway

October 8: Migratory Bird Walk & Talk with Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway


October 8: Migratory Bird Walk & Talk with Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway

Hendersonville, N.C. — The public is invited to join Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway on October 8 at 10 a.m. for a Migratory Bird Walk & Talk, led by Cherie Pittillo and Emilie Travis, experienced local birders and board members of the Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society.

This Walk & Talk will focus on the fall migration of birds. Cherie and Emilie have a wealth of knowledge about migratory birds in western North Carolina as well as their winter habitats around the Caribbean basin. Organized by the Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway, this walk is co-sponsored by the City of Hendersonville and Wild Birds Unlimited.


Cherie and Emilie will help participants identify our birds and understand their habits and needs as they prepare to winter in North Carolina or travel to warmer weather in the south.  They will discuss the importance of habitat, with special emphasis on our mountains, and the critical role residents play in maintaining a safe environment for birds.  This is a fun and informal program, and your questions and observations are welcomed.

Participants should meet at the pavilion in Hendersonville’s Patton Park parking lot (114 East Clairmont Drive).  The walk will last about 90 minutes, is free to the public, and will be held rain or shine.  Please come equipped with good walking shoes and rain protection. For questions about this walk & talk, please contact: Jack Robinson at jackrobinsonmerida@gmail.com, Cel. 828-335-2479

The Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway is a group of local organizations and area residents who recognize the many community values offered by greenway trails, such as improved health, recreation, off-road transportation, connectivity, preserved open space, and economic opportunity. The Oklawaha Greenway currently connects Berkeley Park, Patton Park, and Jackson Park. The Friends of the Oklawaha Greenway plan to promote the use of the existing greenway, and are working to connect it to Blue Ridge Community College. Their members include the Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Friends of the Ecusta Trail, MountainTrue, the League of Women Voters of Henderson County, and representatives from the community at large.


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.