Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Take Action To Protect The Clean Water Act From Polluters

Our clean water is in danger. In the midst of the pandemic, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has snuck in proposed amendments to the Clean Water Act that would have detrimental effects on public health, natural systems, and the economy. These amendments would change the definition of “waters of the United States” to mean fewer wetlands and bodies of water would be under federal protection. The amendments could easily go unnoticed because they have been named the “Navigable Waters Protection Rule,” despite these rules doing anything but protecting our water.

The culture of Western North Carolina is intertwined with water, with recreation and local economies both heavily reliant on water-based activities. MountainTrue’s Clean Water Team works hard to monitor and improve the quality of water in the region, but this rule would create a huge challenge for our daily 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.

MT Raleigh Report: Legislators Discuss How to Hold Safe Elections and State Budget

MT Raleigh Report: Legislators Discuss How to Hold Safe Elections and State Budget

MT Raleigh Report: Legislators Discuss How to Hold Safe Elections and State Budget

May 20, 2020

The North Carolina General Assembly restarted its 2020 session this week, so it’s a good time for a quick update about what’s going on in Raleigh.

After much back and forth about how the session should proceed, the House and Senate Republican leadership decided to open the session this week and work continuously through the beginning of July, when they hope to adjourn. Previously, there had been some talk of meeting briefly this month, then recessing until late June.

The to-do list of lawmakers is likely to be fairly modest. The early weeks of the session will include debates about policy changes and appropriations necessary to hold the November elections safely. Local election officials say they need more money, and that voters need more education about absentee ballots to vote safely. Voting rights organizations have also asked lawmakers to loosen voting restrictions in order to increase access to the ballot and protect public health. Local bills, as well as bills in conference leftover from the 2019 session, may also move.

But the major work of the session will be the FY2020-21 budget – prospects for which could not be murkier. Budget forecasters are predicting a shortfall of several billion dollars as a result of the pandemic. Look for the House, the Senate and the Governor’s offices to agree on a “consensus forecast” for the state’s FY21 revenues late this week or early next. Lawmakers use this forecast as the basis of their budget decisions, and most budget watchers expect it to include a shortfall of $1–$4 billion for the coming fiscal year. In a budget totaling $24 billion, making up a shortfall that large could mean steep budget cuts.

However, how much of that shortfall lawmakers will have to cut their way out of is still very unclear. For starters, the state has more than a billion in reserves that can be used to address the shortfall. Lawmakers have also reserved $2 billion of federal COVID relief dollars, in hopes that Congress will give states the ability to use it to address their budget deficits – an option favored by many Republicans in the US Senate. In the US House, the bill approved last week and backed by Democrats could bring as much as $16 billion to North Carolina. If and when Congress acts on any or all of these proposals will have a significant impact on North Carolina’s budget.

Then there’s the politics of the North Carolina budget, which must be signed into law by Governor Cooper. Last year, the Governor and Republican lawmakers were unable to reach a deal on the budget. Whether the two sides will be able to reach a deal this year – just a few months before an election – remains an open question.

That’s where things stand in Raleigh right now – and of course, it’s all subject to change at any moment. Keep an eye out for future updates about the legislative session and what it means for Western North Carolina.


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.

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

Protect Our Rivers By Supporting Sustainable Farms

We have compiled this map of farms in our region that feed us without threatening rivers, lakes and streams. The inventory at these farms varies, but they all have one thing in common: They’re going the extra mile to do things the right way.


Farms are color-coded by watershed. Click the pinpoints on the map to view a description of each farm.
To see the farms listed by watershed, click the icon on the top left of the map or scroll below.

Many small farms in Western North Carolina have lost business due to the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, large-scale meat operations in North Carolina are one of the leading contributors to water pollution in the state. Buying from sustainable local farms now is a way to not only feed your family but to protect our fragile environment.

Many farmers are still happy to have people come out to their farms. Check their websites or Facebook pages, because these small farms may request that you order over the phone or online to arrange pick-up. If you aren’t able to buy directly from a farmer, be sure to look for their products at farmer’s markets and grocery stores in your neighborhood, as many supply to local distributors. We have not included farms that are currently closed to the public.

To build our impact, sign the pledge to support sustainable farms below!

 

 

Sustainable Farms List

Broad Watershed

  • Belflower Farm
  • Beam Family Farms
  • Colfax Creek Farm
  • Greene Family Farm
  • Hardscrabble Hollow Farm
  • Martins’ Charolais Farm
  • Proffitt Family Cattle Company
  • A Way of Life Farm

French Broad Watershed

  • Cold Mountain Angus Beef
  • Creekside Farm at Walnut Cove
  • Farmhouse Beed
  • Frog Holler Organiks
  • Gaining Ground Farm
  • Hickory Nut Gap Farm
  • Hominy Valley Farms
  • Leatherwood Family Farm
  • Lenoir’s Creek Beef and Bakery
  • Sunburst Trout Farms®
  • Shady Brook Farm
  • Smoky Mountain Mangalista
  • Sunburst Beef LLC
  • Ten Acre Garden

Green River Watershed

  • Looking Glass Creamery
  • Once Upon a Cow Micro Dairy
  • San Felipe Farm
  • Sunny Creek Farms
  • Bearded Birds Farm

Hiwassee River Watershed

  • 7M Family Farms, LLC
  • Brothers on Farms
  • SMM Farms
  • Walnut Hollow Ranch – Premium Black Angus Beef

Upper Tennessee River Watershed

  • 4 Corners Ranch

Little Tennessee River Watershed

  • Breedlove Family Farms
  • Carringer Farms
  • Darnell Farms
  • Deal Family Farm
  • Gnome Mountain Farm
  • J.W. Mitchell Farm
  • JAAR Farms
  • Pine Row Farm
  • Yellow Branch Pottery and Cheese

Watauga River Watershed

  • A Bushel and a Peck Farm
  • Against the Grain Farm
  • Beach Farm and Nursery
  • Creeksong Farm
  • Daffodil Spring Farm
  • Faith Mountain Farm
  • Fire from the Mountain
  • New Life Farm
  • North Fork Farm
  • Shipley Farms Signature Beef
  • Sunshine Cove
  • Heritage Homestead Farm

Yadkin Watershed

  • Asa Acres
  • Aunt Bessie’s Natural Farm

 


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.

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

Water and the Draft Plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

On April 28, MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director Callie Moore hosted a live webinar to explore water quality issues in the draft management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the big topics Callie covered. For more information, check out Callie’s full recorded webinar here, or see her presentation slides here.
Riparian Buffers

Because riparian buffers perform so many valuable functions, including filtering sediment from overland runoff, preventing erosion, moderating stream temperature and providing food and habitat for aquatic life, all streams need some level of protection. We recommend a streamside zone of the following widths on each side of streams: 

  • 100 feet for perennials (streams with continuous flow all year long)
  • 50 feet on intermittents (streams with flow during parts of the year); and 
  • 25 feet on ephemerals (only flow in response to rainfall). 

Additionally, the plan should ensure that encroachment during timber harvest is only allowed in the outer 50 feet of the perennial streamside zone – and only in rare, justifiable situations.

Outstanding Resource Waters

All streams on the National Forest are not equal. Watersheds classified by the state as Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW) carry special antidegradation standards under the Clean Water Act. The ORW supplemental stream classification is intended to protect waters that have excellent water quality and have exceptional ecological or recreational significance. To qualify, waters must be rated Excellent by the NC Division of Water Resources and have one or more outstanding resource values. There are nine ORW watersheds within plan boundaries. These watersheds should be recognized and named in the plan.

Road Maintenance Backlog

The Nantahala and Pisgah have over $40 million in deferred maintenance of their road system. This backlog causes erosion and water quality damage. Because the Forest Service doesn’t have the resources to maintain the existing road network, we recommend a new Objective in the Plan that would call on the Forest Service to assign degrees of the urgency of maintenance needed for each system road. This would provide a better understanding of the resources needed to adequately maintain the road network beyond periodic grading and gravel, and would help prioritize all urgent maintenance needs.

Learn More About The Forest Plan And Submit Your Public Comment


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, COVID-19 Edition: What To Expect From NC Lawmakers This Week

MT Raleigh Report, COVID-19 Edition: What To Expect From NC Lawmakers This Week

MT Raleigh Report, COVID-19 Edition: What To Expect From NC Lawmakers This Week

When the North Carolina General Assembly convenes its 2020 session tomorrow, it will do so in a state – and a world – that was unimaginable when lawmakers finished their work for 2019 just a few short months ago. 

Back then, legislators were looking forward to a 2020 session fueled by a robust budget surplus, made unusually large as a result of last year’s budget stalemate that left hundreds of millions of unallocated dollars in the state’s General Fund. 

That, of course, was all before the impact of COVID-19 on millions of North Carolinians and thousands of North Carolina businesses. Now, legislators can expect a reduction in state tax revenue of $1 billion or more and debates about how to respond to the pandemic, when and how to restart the state’s economy and what to do about the state’s suddenly frail finances. 

The Rundown

With the legislative session beginning tomorrow, here is a quick rundown of where things stand in Raleigh and what MountainTrue’s priorities are for the session.

  • Despite limits on public gatherings across the state, the legislature will go into session with strict limits on the public’s in-person access to legislative proceedings. 
  • Lawmakers are increasing electronic access to committee meetings and other legislative gatherings so that the public can monitor the process. You can access those by clicking on the audio icon for the committee or legislative body you wish to tune into here.
  • Credentialed media will also have in-person access to the General Assembly.
  • Legislative leaders hope the session will be very short, perhaps a week or two, and focused only on COVID-19 bills and appropriations.
  • Bills leftover from the 2019 session or new issues unrelated to the pandemic are unlikely to be considered.
  • The COVID-19 agenda is still developing – a House Select Committee on COVID-19 began making its recommendations last week, and more are expected to become public before the session begins.
  • Governor Cooper will also send a list of COVID-19 requests to the legislature for consideration. 
  • The North Carolina Senate has not met formally to develop recommendations for the session, but is expected to have its own list of pandemic response proposals. 
  • Once lawmakers complete their work, they are expected to adjourn and reconvene some time midsummer. 

The legislature is not likely to take up the state budget during this spring session. The delay of the state’s tax filing deadline to July 15 means that lawmakers won’t have an accurate estimate of revenues for the 2020-2021 fiscal year until later in July. 

Despite the tax filing delay, budget analysts in both the Governor’s office and the legislature predict that the pandemic’s impact on the state budget will be significant – in the range of a $1 billion to $2 billion reduction in state revenues for FY2020-2021. 

The state’s overall budget totals about $24 billion annually. While the state has considerable fiscal reserves, the reduction in tax income and the cost of the COVID-19 response and recovery will result in significant budget reductions for the coming fiscal year. Click here to view a recent presentation by Governor Cooper’s budget director about the pandemic’s impact on state finances. 

MountainTrue’s Priorities 

As the only WNC environmental group with a permanent presence in Raleigh, MountainTrue will be active during both the upcoming spring session and the summer session expected later this year. For starters, we will be on the watch for any effort to roll back clean air, clean water or clean energy laws. In WNC, so much of our economy depends on our natural resources, which must be protected if we are to bounce back from COVID-19. Towards that end, we will also oppose any effort to balance the budget with cuts to state agencies that enforce environmental rules. These agencies are already woefully understaffed and underfunded after years of budget reductions. 

MountainTrue will also continue to support key investments to protect WNC water quality and increase public access to our rivers. We have just finished a round of teleconference meetings with two key WNC legislators who have power over budget appropriations: Rep. Chuck McGrady and Sen. Chuck Edwards. Topping our list of priorities are funds for water monitoring and pollution detection for WNC rivers and streams, as well as new investments in public access along the French Broad, Green and Watauga Rivers. While these investments may not seem pressing, outdoor recreation will likely be one of the earliest, safest and most popular forms of recreation available when the pandemic abates. It’s important that our region has improved infrastructure, both for our residents and visitors, to boost our local economy when widespread recreation is safe again. 

Taking a step back, we know that many of our supporters face extremely difficult challenges as a result of COVID-19. We also realize that many of you may not have the time and energy to think about North Carolina politics and policies and their impact on our environment and our economy right now. And that’s okay. That’s why MountainTrue is here: to be a permanent, trusted, informed voice for our region and its natural resources. We thank all of you who provide the support that allows us to do this important work.

Do you value the Raleigh Report? It takes a lobbyist and staff expertise to bring this resource to you. Please consider making a donation to support this work and protect the places we share:  https://mountaintrue.org/join


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 NCDOT: The I-26 Highway Expansion Must Better Reflect The Needs of Asheville Residents

Tell NCDOT: The I-26 Highway Expansion Must Better Reflect The Needs of Asheville Residents

 

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.

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

3/13/20

Today, Asheville City Council will decide budget priorities for the next year at their annual retreat. Will you call on City Council to provide funding for renewable energy, public transit, affordability initiatives and protecting our urban forest in next year’s budget?

Contact Your City Councilmembers Now

This time of year, you’re probably used to us asking you to advocate for something in the city budget. This year our advocacy is a little more complex – and we want to explain why.

As you may know, Asheville residents have called for major progress regarding environmental sustainability in recent years. But the ways Asheville can raise funds for these efforts are extremely limited due to state law – options like a food and beverage tax, city-wide sales tax, and local control of our hotel occupancy tax are restricted by the legislature in Raleigh, and are not available funding sources for Asheville in this year’s budget. This makes it hard for the city to prioritize funding for the things MountainTrue fights for – renewable energy, better public transit, a more livable urban community, and so much more. This is also made harder by the fact that as soon as next year, the City’s expenses are set to outpace its revenue.

Here’s what we do know: For such an environmentally-minded community, Asheville is behind the curve on things like renewable energy, public transit, and protecting our urban tree canopy. Year after year, Asheville residents have called for progress on these issues. We cannot wait several more years to take significant action on climate change, or to take further steps to address our affordability crisis – especially when our federal and state governments aren’t acting on these issues in ways that match the extent of the problems.

That’s why we are supporting a shift in what the City of Asheville can control: a modest 3-cent property tax increase in this year’s budget. Called 3 Cents For Our Future, this increase would fill the gap between our values and our revenue, generating $4.5 million per year to fund renewable energy, better public transit, affordability initiatives and protecting our urban forest canopy. We are also calling on the city to pair this initiative with a property tax assistance program for low-income homeowners, so that our city’s response to the climate crisis doesn’t displace people who call Asheville home.

 

To learn more details about the plan, click 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.

Tell Beech Mountain Town Council: Fix Your Pipes. Save Our River.

Tell Beech Mountain Town Council: Fix Your Pipes. Save Our River.

 

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.

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

For Immediate Release

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Media Contact:
Eliza Stokes, Advocacy & Communications Associate, MountainTrue
E: eliza@mountaintrue.org P: 410-493-7284

February 14, 2020

Asheville, NC On Thursday, Feb. 20, the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold its Asheville hearing on the latest proposal by Duke Energy to increase electricity rates. 

Duke Energy Progress, a subsidiary of Duke Energy with territory in Buncombe County and many other counties across North Carolina, seeks approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a $463.6 million increase in the amount the company collects from ratepayers each year. This would result in an average 14.3% increase in residential electric bills, or approximately $17.29 more per month for residential customers.

This issue hits close to home in Asheville, as the rate hike includes a request for Duke customers to pay for the $820 million new gas plant at Lake Julian. Also included are plans to recover $402 million for capital investments at coal plants and $530 million for customers to clean up Duke’s coal ash across the state.

“Every couple years, Duke comes back with another proposal to increase customers’ rates,” says Eliza Stokes, an organizer at the environmental non-profit MountainTrue and a customer of Duke Energy Progress. “Duke’s energy plans lack the serious, significant investment in renewable energy that North Carolina needs to face the climate crisis. Because Duke has a monopoly, customers like me don’t have the option to choose another energy company that better aligns with our values.” 

Stokes says Duke’s shareholders should be paying their fair share for these costs. In 2018, Duke made $3.03 billion in net income, while paying $0 in federal taxes. According to a MountainTrue investigation of Duke’s financials, the company has paid their Board over $24.5 million and issued $16.707 billion in dividend payments to their shareholders since 2013. 

“It is unconscionable for a company making this level of profit to call on customers many of whom are on low or fixed incomes to foot the bill for Duke’s coal ash mismanagement and continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

The hearing in Asheville will be held in Courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse at 60 Court Plaza at 7pm. Those who wish to speak should arrive by 6:30pm to sign up. 

MountainTrue works in 26 counties to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in our region. With offices in Boone, Murphy, Asheville and Hendersonville, MountainTrue engages in policy advocacy at all levels of government and on-the-ground environmental restoration projects. Primary program areas include public lands, water quality, clean energy, land use/transportation, and community engagement.

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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.

Update NC’s Spill Notification System to Keep People and Waterways Safe

Update NC’s Spill Notification System to Keep People and Waterways Safe

 

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.