Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to WNC for Sixth Year

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to WNC for Sixth Year

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Comes to WNC for Sixth Year

MountainTrue is pleased to announce that it is hosting the sixth annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival presented by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., taking place at Sierra Nevada’s Mills River location on September 1.

Tickets available: http://bit.ly/WSFFWNC

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival features the year’s best nature, wilderness and outdoor adventure short films and is sponsored by Mountain Xpress, Blue Ridge Energy Systems, BorgWarner, Holly Spring Farm, JAG Construction and Mosaic Community Lifestyle Realty. This year’s festival features 12 films covering a wide range of subjects from the story of our own Southern ancient stream-dwelling Hellbender salamander to rock climbing the Baatara Gorge in Lebanon to grassroots indigenous activism in Honduras.

  • Avaatara: The First Route Out – David Lama achieves first ascent of the Baatara Gorge in Lebanon, a surreal ‘Avatar’-like landscape, unexploited and untouched.
  • Leave it as it is – The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic landscapes on the planet, but this natural masterpiece of the Colorado River faces a battery of threats.
  • The Last Dragons – An intimate glimpse at North America’s Eastern Hellbender, an ancient salamander that lives as much in myth as in reality.
  • Diversity & Inclusion in our Wild Spaces – A campfire discussion on improving the diversity of both the visitation and the employment within our parks and wild spaces and brings light to important issues facing today’s conservation movement.
  • Mile for Mile – A trio of professional ultrarunners travel 106 miles through the newly opened Patagonia Park in Chile to celebrate and highlight Conservacion Patagonica’s efforts to re-wild this vast landscape.
  • Co2ld Waters – Five of the most respected names in the fly fishing world converge on a single creek in Montana to talk about their passion and to discuss the single biggest threat to their timeless pursuit, climate change.
  • Parker’s Top 50 Favorite Things about Northwest Rivers – This fun film celebrates the best things about Northwest rivers from a kid’s perspective.
  • In Current – Rowing a dory in the Grand Canyon is considered by some as the most coveted job in the world. Amber Shannon has been boating the Grand Canyon nine years, trying to work her way from the baggage boat to a dory, while spending as many days as possible in current.
  • Comes with Baggage – This lighthearted history of bicycle travel in the Americas makes you want to sell all your possessions, quit your job and escape on a bike.
  • Mother of All Rivers – Berta Cáceres rallied her indigenous Lenca people to wage a grassroots protest that successfully pressured the government of Honduras and the world’s largest Chinese dam builder, SinoHydro, to withdraw from building the Agua Zarca Dam. Narrated by Robert Redford.
  • The Thousand Year Journey – Jedidiah Jenkins quit a job that he loved to ride his bicycle from Oregon to the southern tip of Patagonia. Friend and filmmaker Kenny Laubbacher joined him for a month and a half to pose the question “why?”
  • The Accidental Environmentalist – John Wathen was just an average guy until coming into contact with toxic chemicals, stumbling upon a video camera, and discovering his passion for protecting Alabama’s waters.

Our Wild & Scenic festival is a selection of films from the annual festival held in Nevada City, CA which is now in its 14th year. The festival focuses on films that speak to the environmental concerns and celebrations of our planet, and works to build a network of grassroots organizations connected by the common goal of using film to inspire activism.

The 2016 Wild & Scenic festival will take place under the open sky at Sierra Nevada’s new outdoor amphitheater located on the banks of the French Broad River at their Mills River brewery. The event begins at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Get there early to grab a drink, explore the gardens and snag a prime viewing spot for the main event!

WHEN: September 1
WHERE: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. – 100 Sierra Nevada Way, Fletcher, NC 28732
Price: General Admission $15; $10 for students

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is made possible by the support of national partners: Patagonia, CLIF Bar, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Orion Magazine, Klean Kanteen, Earthjustice, and Barefoot Wine & Bubbly. There will be door prize giveaways, silent auction items and chances to win premium raffle prizes generously donated by our sponsors. Tickets can be purchased at http://bit.ly/WSFFWNC.

For more information, contact Susan Bean, susan@mountaintrue.org, (828) 258-8737 or mountaintrue.org.

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

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Festival Tickets on Sale

Get your tickets to the 2016 Wild & Scenic Film Festival at Sierra Nevada before they sell out.

Buy Tickets

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.

Save the French Broad, One Fish at a Time

Save the French Broad, One Fish at a Time

Save the French Broad, 1 Fish at a Time


For the month of August, fishing will be good throughout the French Broad River Watershed for both fishers and non-fishers alike. In partnership with Sweetwater, MountainTrue is hosting a campaign to clean up the French Broad River through the sale of paper fish in local restaurants, bars and businesses. You can show your support for swimmable, fishable and drinkable water in the French Broad by buying a $1 fish at the following locations:

  • Bier Garden in downtown Asheville
  • Mellow Mushroom in downtown Asheville
  • Cascade Lounge in Asheville
  • WALK (West Asheville Lounge & Kitchen)
  • Ole Shakey’s next to the French Broad
  • Asheville Outdoor Center
  • Hang Out at Climbmax next to the French Broad
  • Thirsty Monk
  • Universal Joint in Asheville
  • Boondocks Brewing Tap Room & Restaurant in downtown West Jefferson
  • Triangle Stop gas stations around Asheville

MountainTrue and Sweetwater have teamed up 10 years in a row to sell paper fish and encourage locals to help clean up the French Broad River. Throughout those 10 years, over $150,000 has been raised to fund the rejuvenation and continual improvement of the French Broad River.

The selling of paper fish occurs in conjunction with the annual Save the French Broad Raft Race where local businesses race each other down the whitewater section of the French Broad. This year, you can expect teams from Bier Garden, Brixx, The Matt & Molly Team, Prestige Subaru, Cascade Lounge, Mellow Mushroom in Asheville, WALK, Liquid Logic, The Southern and Edward Jones to battle their way down the river in rafts donated by Blue Heron Whitewater for a chance to become raft race champions.

If you see the paper fish hanging on the wall at a local eatery, bar or business, buy one and show your support for the French Broad!


Thank you to our Save the French Broad sponsors!

 

Prestige Logo Stacked MM and KW Print


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.

9/10: Henderson County Big Sweep

9/10: Henderson County Big Sweep

Sept. 10: ‘Big Sweep’ Comes to Henderson County

 

Join the Big Sweep, and Help Keep Our Rivers Clean

Sign Up!

Henderson County, NC – The community is invited to lend a hand and help clean up Henderson County’s rivers and streams. On Saturday, September 10, MountainTrue hosts the annual Henderson County Big Sweep.

The Big Sweep is a county-wide litter cleanup program that brings citizens and community organizations together to clear trash from their waterways. Civic organizations, Scout troops, church groups, school groups, Adopt-A-Stream teams, neighborhood associations, city and county departments, local businesses, and individuals can all pitch in to make our waters cleaner and healthier.

“People get excited for our annual Big Sweep and it’s really inspiring,” says Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue Southern Regional Director. “By working together we can have a huge impact in just one day. Last year we pulled about 1,800 pounds of trash out of area streams. Every year we try for more.”

Participants can join in the fun by registering here.

Form a team with friends and family or join an existing team. Teams will hold cleanups between 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. in waterways throughout the county. For more information or to volunteer for Henderson County Big Sweep with MountainTrue, click here or call (828) 692-0385 ext. 1001.

MountainTrue has hosted Henderson County‘s annual stream clean-up event since 1991, and the Big Sweep is one way it has demonstrated a legacy of engaging citizens in environmental stewardship. Last year, 8 teams made up of 37 volunteers donated 148 hours and removed 1,800 pounds of trash from our streams! Let’s make this year even more successful!

In addition to Big Sweep, MountainTrue’s Clean Water Team coordinates an Adopt-A-Stream monitoring program to keep our waterways clean and healthy all year. Find more information about the MountainTrue at www.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.

MountainTrue Raleigh Report, Issue 21: Hallelujah, That Session Is Over

MountainTrue Raleigh Report, Issue 21: Hallelujah, That Session Is Over

MountainTrue Raleigh Report, Issue 21: Hallelujah, That Session Is Over

Sine die (adverb). Definition: with reference to business or proceedings that have been adjourned with no appointed date for resumption, as in “On Friday, July 2, the North Carolina General Assembly adjourned sine die.”

In this edition of the MountainTrue Raleigh Report – It’s OVER! On Friday, legislators adjourned the short session sine die and headed back home – just in time for the Fourth of July holiday.

Up until the very end of session, there were a number of important bills still up in the air. Some good things happened and some bad things didn’t. Here’s the rundown on the end of session – and our overall take on what The Honorables did and didn’t do this year.

Coal Ash Rests With McCrory


If you remember, Chuck McGrady’s (and others’) coal ash legislation met with the veto stamp earlier this session. A veto override seemed likely, but the Senate stepped in and forged a “compromise” with Governor McCrory.

The new bill eliminates the state’s Coal Ash Commission and requires Duke Energy to provide drinking water either through water lines or filtration systems to residents within a half-mile of the coal ash pits. DEQ will also assess how far contaminants from the coal ash ponds have traveled in groundwater and could be required to take further measures for clean water.

Under the bill, once Duke Energy has provided the water lines or filtration systems to local residents and can certify that it has fixed leaks or problems with dams at a coal ash site, DEQ is required to classify the site as low risk. That designation could allow Duke to cap the site and leave the coal ash in place in unlined basins for the foreseeable future.

MountainTrue and a number of other environmental organizations – as well as Rep. McGrady – opposed this legislation. In our view, this latest coal ash bill guts the criteria the state uses to determine how dangerous the coal ash pits are to surrounding communities.  Unless something changes, the result will be that coal ash pits will continue to pollute our groundwater as well as our rivers and streams.

The bill is now awaiting action by the governor, who seems all but certain to sign it.

Crunching the Budget Numbers

There is plenty of good and bad in the new, $22.34 billion budget. You can read overview stories like this one from WRAL for a sense of the big-ticket items. Here are some provisions of special interest to us:

  • DuPont Recreational Forest receives $3 million in funding for new restroom and parking facilities, as well as a provision that would allow the forest to compete with other parks projects in the annual round of grants from the state’s Parks and Recreational Trust Fund. New staffing positions are also created to help oversee DuPont’s management.

  • The budget restores funding and positions for the Natural Heritage Program, which was reduced by $314,726 in 2015. The revised net appropriation for the program is $764,726.

  • An $8.6M increase for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund is included, bringing the total appropriation for FY16-17 to $22.4 million. That is the single largest appropriation to the CWMTF since 2010.

  • The Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust is increased by $1 million.

  • Funding for the Parks & Recreation Trust Fund was maintained, bringing the total appropriation for FY16-17 to $22.7 million.

  • A provision to repeal stream buffer rules, endangering water and habitat, was largely eliminated, but clean up rules for Jordan and Falls lakes in the Triangle were delayed even further.

Things Left On the Table

The two regulatory reform bills – S303 and H593 – died when session ended. That’s good news for those of us who care about the environment.

Some of the items of concern in these bills included:

  • A prohibition on the state Environmental Management Commission (EMC) and Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) from enforcing air emissions standards that regulate fuel combustion that “directly or indirectly” provides hot water or heating to a residence, or heating to a business.

  • Requiring the EMC to achieve a 3/5 majority to adopt federal new source performance standards (NSPS), maximum achievable control technology (MACT), or hazardous air pollutant standards; and disallows state enforcement of federal standards until the EMC adopts them.

  • Prohibiting stormwater control measures, exempting landscaping material from stormwater management requirements and amending stream mitigation requirements.

H3, the Omnibus Constitutional Amendments bill, was also left on the table as session ended. The bill proposed three constitutional amendments for the November ballot. The amendments concerned eminent domain; the right to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife; and capping the state’s personal income tax at 5.5 percent (the current cap is 10 percent). Look for the cap on income tax to be a major issue during the 2017 session.

Post Mortem

Judging the 2016 legislative session and its impact on the environment does not lead to clear-cut generalizations.

On the plus side, the state budget makes important – and substantial – new investments in open space preservation, both statewide (with a large bump in funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund) and in western North Carolina (DuPont State Forest).

On the downside, the budget also includes rollbacks on clean water provisions for two of the state’s largest drinking water sources – Jordan and Falls lakes. Here again, however, things could have been much worse, as the original language in the Senate budget would have repealed protections in a number of other river basins. Thankfully, those protections were left in place.

Lawmakers also get high marks (of a sort) for what they didn’t do. A political meltdown that occurred at the end of session meant that two regulatory “reform” bills died when the Senate abruptly ended the session before they could be approved – taking a number of bad policies down at the same time.

Still, it’s hard to give the legislature good grades on anything in light of what it did on coal ash. The revised legislation seriously weakens the protections approved just two years ago.  Perhaps most appalling, the new law allows DEQ to reclassify coal pits all over North Carolina and likely allows Duke Energy to leave the coal ash in place – in unlined pits – instead of moving it to safer, lined facilities.

Overall, we have to give the legislature low to middling grades – at best – this year when it comes to protecting our water, our air and our open space.

That’s probably enough about the General Assembly for now. In future updates, we’ll let you know about some upcoming meetings with legislators we are planning in WNC. And we’ll have news about our plans for the 2017 legislature, which begins in January.  In the meantime, enjoy the summer and the knowledge that the legislature is out of session and can’t do any more damage for the rest of the year.


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.

The Gospel in the Ecological Crisis

The Gospel in the Ecological Crisis

Creation Care Alliance Attends The Gospel In The Ecological Crisis

By Scott Hardin-Nieri, Director of the Creation Care Alliance

From the California drought to Missouri floods to our changing growing seasons, climate change is already affecting people around the world, in our country and here in North Carolina. The deeper ecological crisis that has been impacting vulnerable communities for decades is also coming to greater attention: toxic drinking water, leaking coal-ash pits, collapse of fisheries, soil erosion, oil spills and gas leaks have made headlines and received increasing news coverage.

To help our faith communities address the impacts of climate change and ecological crisis, the Center for Earth Ethics and Union Theological Seminary gathered 35 priests, ministers, preachers, pastors, nuns and evangelists in New York City from June 6-10 for a five-day training. As the Director of the Creation Care Alliance, I was fortunate enough to be invited.

We had a chance to learn from other faith leaders, brainstorm new approaches to addressing these global challenges, and attended presentations from Vice President Al Gore of the Climate Reality Project, Chandra Taylor Smith of the Audubon Society, Jacqui Patterson of the NAACP, Rev. Leo Woodberry and Tim DeChristopher of the Climate Disobedience Center, Rev. Ed Brown of Care of Creation, Shantha Ready Alonso of Creation Justice Ministries, and many others.  

Now that I am back in WNC, I’m looking forward to working through the Creation Care Alliance to put some of this training and into practice, facilitating climate conversations in our local communities. We’ll be bringing this work to a national gathering called the Wild Goose Festival this summer and will continue to accompany people and communities in caring for people and planet.  


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.

Bad Coal Ash Bill Being Rushed Through Raleigh

Bad Coal Ash Bill Being Rushed Through Raleigh

Bad Coal Ash Bill Being Rushed Through Raleigh

On the evening of Tuesday, June 28 the North Carolina Senate rushed through a rewrite to H630, the state’s coal ash cleanup law. This bad coal ash bill is quickly making its way through the legislature and we expect the House to take it up as soon as today.

Please call your NC Representative Immediately and ask them to NOT CONCUR with the Senate’s version of House Bill 630. 

Official statement by MountainTrue Co-director Julie Mayfield:

“The legislature’s rewrite of the state’s coal ash cleanup law is a betrayal of the people of North Carolina. The General Assembly has abdicated its responsibility to clean up North Carolina’s coal ash and protect us from the ill effects of toxic pollutants.

“HB630 would disband the Coal Ash Management Commission and with it any effective oversight of the Department of Environmental Quality, which has a poor record of protecting our communities and our environment. Worse, this new legislation delays final classification for North Carolina’s coal ash pits and completely guts the criteria the state uses to determine the threat of these pits to our communities. The result will leave coal ash in place to continue polluting groundwater, our rivers and our streams.

“The strength of the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 (CAMA) was that it used science to guide the coal ash cleanup effort. That science indicated that there are no low priority coal ash sites or low priority communities. Now the legislature wants to scrap the  protections that are based on that science – protections lawmakers themselves have repeatedly touted as ‘the best in the country.’ The legislature’s willingness to weaken laws that protect so many people from such harmful pollution is both bewildering and shameful.”

Read the full text of H630.

H630, as passed by the Senate, would:

  • eliminate the Coal Ash Management Commission and, with it, legislative oversight over the NC Department of Environmental Quality, a deeply politicized agency with a poor track record;
  • eliminate criteria for risk assessment based on a site’s threats to public health, safety, welfare, the environment and natural resources;
  • give Duke two years, until October 15, 2018, to provide clean drinking water to affected households through a water line or filtration device;
  • require that DEQ classify ponds as “low risk” if dams are repaired and public water supply hookups are provided, regardless of whether they continue to pollute ground and surface waters;
  • allow the DEQ to revise and downgrade their classifications of coal ash pits for 18 months, until November 15, 2018;
  • delay closure plans for low and intermediate sites until December 31, 2019; and
  • give DEQ expanded authority to grant variances and extensions to the deadlines above, creating further delay and less accountability for Duke Energy.

The time to act is NOW. Call your representative and tell them that no North Carolina community is a low priority. Tell them to oppose H630.


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.