OUR MISSION: MountainTrue champions resilient forests, clean waters, and healthy communities in the Southern Blue Ridge.
OUR VISION: MountainTrue envisions thriving communities in our mountain region that are connected to and help sustain both each other and our natural environment. To achieve this, MountainTrue fosters and empowers residents throughout the region to engage in community planning, policy and project advocacy, and on-the-ground projects.
We value social and environmental justice and believe that all people have the right to live in healthy communities. We are committed to working towards vibrant, connected, equitable communities where everyone can enjoy lives that are healthy, full of opportunity, free from oppression, and enriched by our region’s natural environment.
We value the integrity of natural systems – air, land, water, and native plants and animals – and believe in protecting and restoring them for the benefit of all generations.
We value mountain communities that are vibrant, livable, and respectful of their connection to and dependence on the region’s natural environment.
We value the unique environment of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains and believe our regional perspective enhances both regional and community-based solutions to shared problems.
We value community engagement in principled advocacy and believe both sound public policy and responsible individual actions are needed to protect both our natural environment and the communities we live in.
We value collaboration and believe working with diverse constituencies is fundamental to MountainTrue’s success.
We value integrity, equity, expertise, flexibility, accountability, and transparency in all activities and operations.
We Are MountainTrue
In January 2015, three Western North Carolina environmental and conservation nonprofits joined forces to become MountainTrue. The Environmental and Conservation Organization, based in Henderson County and founded in 1987; Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, based in Macon County and founded in 2000; and Western North Carolina Alliance, based in Buncombe County and founded in 1982, merged and adopted three overarching goals:
- to have a stronger influence on policy at all levels of government through increased local presence;
- to build a stronger organization and increase our geographic reach;
- and to strengthen our grassroots engagement and involve a broader spectrum of the population.
To achieve our goals, MountainTrue’s board, volunteers, and professional staff focus 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 region.
MountainTrue is the home of the French Broad Riverkeeper, the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River watershed, and the Watauga Riverkeeper, the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers. MountainTrue is also the home of the Broad River Alliance, a collection of concerned citizens and organizations advocating for cleaner water, awareness and education, improved access, and broadened recreational opportunities within the Broad River Basin.
Principles of Equity, Inclusion, and Non-Discrimination
MountainTrue is committed to the principles of equity, inclusion, and non-discrimination.
We do not discriminate against individuals, communities, or organizations on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or physical/mental disability.
We recognize and honor diverse cultures and traditions and proactively seek individuals for all aspects of our work from varied backgrounds for the greater enrichment of the organization. To address structural bias, MountainTrue intentionally invests in diverse leadership within our programs, staff, board, volunteer base, and membership.
We are committed to a proactive and strategic equity approach at an institutional and societal level. We understand this work to be an ongoing learning journey as we build an understanding of how structural differences in power impact and inform the work we do in Western North Carolina. Our board and staff will work together to continually build our analysis and invest in capacity-building opportunities (e.g., workshops) that can deepen and inform our commitment to fostering equity through our work.
We commit to these principles in all aspects of our organization, including staffing policies, board or committee membership, individual membership, and in all other program and activity administration and implementation. Adherence to this policy will be monitored by our board, staff, and volunteer leaders, all of whom are expected to report problems or concerns to staff or board leadership.
Our Prior History
About Environmental and Conservation Organization—Founded 1987
ECO’s mission was to preserve the natural heritage of Henderson County and the mountain region as an effective voice for the environment by focusing on four key areas: green infrastructure, water quality, energy conservation/renewable energy, and recycling. ECO was founded in 1987 and became a preeminent and influential leader in promoting environmental issues affecting our region, working with the community, business leaders, like-minded environmental groups, and government officials to create a balance between growth and environmental preservation. ECO undertook water quality monitoring of six watersheds, adopt-a-stream cleanup of dozens of waterways, public policy development towards natural heritage protections, energy expos, workshops, and forums to encourage greater stewardship of our environment, and recycling programs and activities that encourage sustainable practices.
About the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance—Founded 2000
The Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance J-MCA encouraged those who care about the beautiful Southern Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina to join the efforts to conserve and protect them. The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau is a unique ecosystem; one of the most biologically diverse on earth. Many people come here to visit or live because of the incredible splendor, yet their very presence puts this rich natural environment at risk. Pressures from growth issues to invasive species all create environmental challenges that must be addressed. J-MCA was established in 2000, to serve as an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural environment and cultural character of the headwater regions of Western North Carolina.
About Western North Carolina Alliance—Founded 1982
WNCA was the only grassroots environmental advocacy group focused solely on conserving all of Western North Carolina’s natural heritage. WNCA was founded in 1982 by residents in Macon County who organized to protect their local national forests from oil and gas exploration. After that successful effort, WNCA went on to help defeat a proposed nuclear waste dump in Buncombe County (1984), launch a campaign to stop clear-cutting in the national forests, lead a four-year campaign to stop the City of Asheville from clear-cutting in the Asheville Watershed (1990; the City later placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed), and lead a campaign for passage of the Clean Smokestacks Act (2002). In 1994, WNCA claimed victory in its nine-year campaign to stop clear-cutting in the national forests when the Forest Service released a new Management Plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests that eliminated clear-cutting as a management tool and reduced overall logging levels. In 2010, WNCA became home to the French Broad Riverkeeper, who serves as the primary protector and defender of the French Broad River. In 2012, the Watauga Riverkeeper joined the team to serve as the primary watchdog and spokesperson for the Elk and Watauga Rivers, which run from their headwaters on Grandfather Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway to Watauga Lake in east Tennessee.