Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center volunteers paint traffic barriers for Asheville’s first Shared Streets installation on Eagle and Market Streets, also known as “The Block,” on June 18.

June 29, 2020

As more and more Asheville businesses reopen, the COVID-19 pandemic has required them to need more breathing room literally. To help businesses adapt to indoor capacity limits and social distancing guidelines, the City of Asheville has contracted with MountainTrue’s Asheville Design Center (ADC) to create design solutions that allow businesses to use more public outdoor space.

The first of these solutions, temporary parklets, provides overflow space for businesses by sectioning off adjacent parking spots. The City’s new temporary parklets program allows businesses to use up to three on-street public parking spaces on roads with speed limits of less than 25mph. ADC has designed these to be used for outdoor dining, selling merchandise, and additional space to allow for social distancing. 

ADC is also taking leadership on the City’s new Shared Streets program, which extends the parklet design concept by prioritizing entire streets for pedestrians. “Wall Street provides a good model for what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Chris Joyell, Director of the Asheville Design Center. “The moment you step onto it, there are several design cues that make pedestrians feel comfortable walking in the street and cause cars to slow down and know they have second priority to pedestrians. We want more streets in Asheville to feel that way.” 

True to ADC’s mission, staff and volunteers are designing signs and elements of the temporary parklets and Shared Streets by working hand in hand with community members. In the case of the first Shared Street area launched on June 18 on Eagle and Market Streets, or “The Block”, downtown this meant working with individual business owners, the Block Community Collaborative Business Group, and community elders to use culturally relevant signage and colors. “We went to the YMI Cultural Center with community elder Roy Harris to look at historical documents and art that represented Asheville’s historically Black community,” Chris says. “The community led the vision, and with their guidance, our graphic design intern used fonts, colors and patterns that would all say ‘The Block’ to the people who grew up there.”

Describing this effort, ADC intern Helen Kemper says, “I especially felt connected when walking through the streets with the business owners, gaining their perspective and connectedness to these public spaces. We hope these efforts will help them transform their spaces so that they may feel supported by the community and find success during such trying times.”

MountainTrue Co-Director Julie Mayfield carries a traffic barrier at the Shared Streets installation on Buxton and Banks Streets on the South Slope of Asheville. 


The latest Shared Street installation happened at Banks and Buxton Streets last week, where ADC worked with City staff to redirect vehicles to narrow, slower lanes, and added signs to identify the space as a Pedestrian Priority Zone. Over the coming weeks, ADC staff and volunteers will help implement more Shared Street design elements on Wall Street, Church Street and portions of College Street downtown.

The temporary parklets and Shared Streets will be active until at least October 31. Chris anticipates that the effort will expand outside of downtown, and that it can help more businesses see the value of using shared space design concepts for the long term. “Since we’re providing the temporary design and engineering expertise, businesses can experiment with these parklets and other design concepts now with more support than they’d have if they were going it alone,” Chris says.  “And if they work well, business owners are one step closer to making these innovations permanent. He cites Sovereign Remedies as one Asheville business using the parklet concept year-round for outdoor seating, with great success. 

ADC volunteers are also working on a guide book to make implementation of the parklets as easy as possible for business owners, creating clear blueprints and lists of materials needed for construction. To get started on the process, register for your parklets here.

“The heart of the design process,” Chris says, “is to identify a problem, come up with a solution, design it, prototype it and get feedback. And by creating these concepts in conversation with the broader community, we can make sure they meet the needs of our local businesses and are a sustainable design concept for Asheville’s future.”


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: Politics, Budget Policy and the Pandemic at the North Carolina General Assembly

MT Raleigh Report: Politics, Budget Policy and the Pandemic at the North Carolina General Assembly

MT Raleigh Report: Politics, Budget Policy and the Pandemic at the North Carolina General Assembly

With unemployment growing, the economy slowing and North Carolina’s tax revenues plummeting, legislators have made some key decisions that will shape how they are likely to deal with the state’s mounting budget challenges.

While the state’s revenues for the 2020-21 fiscal year won’t be in until the July 15 tax filing deadline, budget analysts expect revenues to be short $1.6 billion for FY19-20 and another $2.5 billion for FY20-21. Together, that is about an eight percent hit to the state’s $24 billion annual budget.

Complicating the budget picture is a long list of unknowns, including:

  • Just how big are the deficits North Carolina is facing? So far lawmakers are using estimates. Actual revenues won’t be known until July 15 – two weeks after the new state fiscal year is supposed to begin on July 1.
  • Can federal COVID-19 relief money be used to fill the state’s budget hole? North Carolina has $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money in reserve; state lawmakers are hoping Congress will give them permission to use those funds to address the state’s budget shortfall. But if and when that might happen is anyone’s guess. Complicating matters: under current federal law, all of the state’s federal COVID-19 funding must be spent by December 31, 2020.
  • Will Congress provide more help to states? The US House of Representatives recently approved a COVID-19 relief bill that would provide billions to help states balance their budgets, but support in the US Senate is lukewarm.

Look for Governor Cooper to wait until midsummer to spell out his budget plans.

For their part, GOP leaders at the legislature have opted not to produce a FY 2020-21 budget at all; they will leave the current budget (approved all the way back in 2017) in place. Instead, lawmakers in both chambers have agreed to approve 18 separate bills with a variety of appropriations for a discreet list of projects and programs. Their priorities include capital projects at various state universities and funds to address enrollment growth at public schools. The money for these bills comes from a number of sources, including unspent federal COVID-19 relief funds and monies from other sources that are expected to be unspent when the state’s fiscal year ends on June 30.

After completing these bills in the next few weeks, legislative leaders plan to go home. That would appear to leave balancing the budget to Governor Cooper – unless Congress gives the state a windfall of federal cash to balance the state budget. If that happens, it is unlikely that the state’s budget writers will allow Governor Cooper to decide how such a large amount of money is spent, and they would likely reconvene to appropriate those dollars. If help from Congress does not arrive, lawmakers also have the option of staying at home and leaving the politically difficult task of balancing the budget to Governor Cooper, just a few months before his reelection.

The lack of a budget development process at the legislature is a mixed bag for the environment. For starters, it leaves organizations like MountainTrue with no way to engage lawmakers about much-needed investments to protect our natural resources. On the other hand, it avoids – or at least postpones – the steep cuts that the legislature would likely propose for regulatory agencies that protect our air and water if they attempted to draw up a new budget.

As the legislative session continues, MountainTrue will continue to track the budget process and look for opportunities to fund some of the WNC projects we have promoted in the past – while also opposing any effort to cut state agencies that protect our water and air from polluters. We appreciate your continued support for this work and invite you to follow our policy work in Raleigh on all of our social media outlets. Thanks!


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.

Stand Up, Speak Out Against Asphalt Plant Proposed For East Flat Rock!

Stand Up, Speak Out Against Asphalt Plant Proposed For East Flat Rock!

ASPHALT PLANT PROPOSED FOR EAST FLAT ROCK!

STAND UP, SPEAK OUT!

PLANNING BOARD MEETING THURSDAY, JUNE 18 at 5:30 PM

By Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director for MountainTrue

We are very concerned about a proposal that quietly appeared on the Henderson County Planning agenda: A developer has applied for conditional rezoning requesting that the County conditionally rezone 6.5 acres located at the intersection of Spartanburg Highway (US-176) and US-25 to a conditional district to construct a new asphalt plant. The property is currently zoned Community Commercial (CC) and is surrounded by residential zoning.

A virtual Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting was held via Zoom on Monday, June 8. You can watch the entire four hour meeting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cvf2wGfhtBA

The big takeaway from the Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting was that there is absolutely no way that this project is appropriate for the location and that the rezoning request should be denied. Thank you to the 115 community members that tuned in, to the over 160 community members that submitted questions in advance, and to more than 50 people that asked questions live during the meeting, none of which we believe were sufficiently answered by the developer.

While we appreciate everything that the County Planning staff did to make this meeting accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were still unable to join. This is because not everyone has access to a computer, internet access, an internet connection strong enough to support streaming services, or access to the Zoom streaming service. Others were able to attend but not able to comment because they used an older version of Zoom, had technical difficulties or did not have a computer microphone to speak, or tuned in via YouTube and were not able to ask questions. For all of these reasons, we believe meetings of this nature are inappropriate during this time, and the decision making timeline should be postponed or extended to accommodate public participation.

We have a number of environmental and community concerns about the proposed plant, and we will be asking Henderson County officials to deny the rezoning request. Here are some of our concerns:

  • Air Pollution – Asphalt fumes are known toxins and contain pollutants such as formaldehyde, hexane, phenol, polycyclic organic matter, and toluene. Exposure to these air toxics may cause cancer, central nervous system problems, liver damage, respiratory problems, and skin irritation.
  • Water Pollution – Runoff of pollutants from the site would impact Laurel Creek, which flows to the Green River.
  • Public Lands – The site is dangerously close to the Green River Game Lands, which would be on the receiving end of air and water pollution.
  • Community Health – A study by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) showed 45% of residents living within a half mile of a new asphalt plant reported a deterioration of their health, which began after the plant opened.
  • Environmental Justice – The site is near a low-income community that would bear the brunt of air and water pollution, dust, noise, truck traffic, and exposure to harmful toxins. Low income communities are disproportionately impacted by industrial facilities across the nation, and that’s not right.

Here’s what we need you to do:

    •  

Now is the time to stand up, speak out, and put a stop to this pollution factory before it even gets started! Join us in the fight!


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.

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
  • Piedmont Homestead
  • 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: Politics, Budget Policy and the Pandemic at the North Carolina General Assembly

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.