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Tell Madison County to Oppose Dangerous Industrial Biomass Facilities

Tell Madison County to Oppose Dangerous Industrial Biomass Facilities

Tell Madison County to Oppose Dangerous Industrial Biomass Facilities

The Madison County Planning Board is expected to vote on whether to recommend changes to the county’s land-use code that would allow dangerous, industrial biomass facilities in Madison County. The proposed amendments to the county’s land-use ordinance open the door to industrial-sized biomass facilities that would emit more climate-changing carbon into the atmosphere, cause significant air pollution, and pose serious fire risks to nearby residents. 

Take Action: Email the Planning Board and County Commissioners and let them know you want a clean and safe Madison County.

BACKGROUND: 

MountainTrue has serious concerns about the current draft amendments regarding biomass facilities. As it stands, the definition is too broad and has the potential to create a giant loophole allowing anyone making any sort of value-added product out of any organic materials, including wood, for either commercial or private use, to be classified at a biomass facility. 

Here is the latest proposed definition that we have seen:  

A facility that converts biomass sources into value-added products for public or private use. Biomass includes but is not limited to, wood and wood processing waste, wood pellets, agricultural crops and waste materials, biogenic materials in municipal solid waste, animal manure, and human sewage.

Large Biomass Facility:

  1. Annual Biomass Throughput: A large biomass facility processes over 10,000 metric tons of biomass per year.
  2. Energy Production: A large biomass facility generates over 25,000 MWh or more energy annually.
  3. Number of Employees: A large biomass facility has over 100 employees
  4. Capital Investment Threshold: A large biomass facility requires an investment of over $10 million. 

This broad definition raises three key concerns:

  1. Inconsistencies in Regulation: The definition of “large biomass facility” appears to include activities already separately defined and regulated within the ordinance, such as sawmills and certain manufacturing facilities. This inconsistency in regulation creates confusion for residents, business owners, and the County in determining which set of rules applies to specific activities. 
  2. Potential for Unintended Consequences: An overly broad definition could inadvertently allow certain activities, such as a sawmill evolving into a wood pellet production facility, to escape more stringent permitting requirements. This could occur because nonconforming land uses (i.e., land uses that pre-date an ordinance amendment that makes them newly “nonconforming”) are typically allowed to continue as long as they do not change their primary use or expand significantly. Therefore, a clearer definition is needed to prevent such loopholes.
  3. Unfair Scope: The proposal’s distinction between “large” and “small” biomass facilities does not serve the public or the ordinance’s purposes. It would both allow industrial-scale facilities in residential areas while punishing truly “small” biomass land uses—especially under the currently overbroad definition of “biomass”—by requiring regular folks to go through an expensive and time-consuming set of rezoning and permitting processes. The ordinance should focus on making sure industrial biomass facilities are properly located without sweeping up landowners looking to make occasional, harmless use of collected waste materials. Failing to make this distinction may lead to unnecessary hostility towards environmental advocacy and regulation.

A More Refined Definition

To address these concerns and create a more precise and effective regulatory framework, we propose a more tailored definition of “large biomass facility.” Our suggested definition would:

  • Apply only to facilities that produce biomass products for specific off-site uses, such as electricity generation, heating, or transportation fuel.
  • Tailor the amendment so that if the facility combusts biomass on site, the definition applies only if any electricity generated is transmitted for off-site use.
  • Include wood pellet biomass facilities explicitly within the definition to ensure they are adequately regulated.
  • Maintain the broad definition of “biomass” while narrowing the scope of facilities that fall under this definition.

Additional Considerations

In addition to refining the definition of “large biomass facility” to help distinguish between different types of biomass-related activities, we support:

  • Requiring special use permits for biomass facilities,
  • Correcting what may have been a mistake in section 8.11.12 (“Noise”) that regulates facilities that generate noise pollution “up to 70 decibels.” We believe the county meant “more than 70 decibels. 

Call on the DEQ and Henderson County to restore and protect the health of Clear Creek

Call on the DEQ and Henderson County to restore and protect the health of Clear Creek

Call on the DEQ and Henderson County to restore and protect the health of Clear Creek

The NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is currently accepting public comments on Draft NPDES Permit No. NC0090247 — which would violate the Clean Water Act by allowing Henderson County to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in Edneyville that could discharge up to 200,000 gallons of wastewater per day into a stream that is already listed as impaired and significantly impacted by pollution. 

Take action to protect water quality!

1. Show up in person. Attend the public hearing on Monday, February 5, and ask DEQ to deny Draft NPDES Permit No. NC0090247.

Public Hearing Details
Date: Monday, February 5, 2024, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
(Speaker registration starts at 5:30 p.m. via a sign-up sheet.)
Location: Auditorium at the North Henderson High School,
35 Fruitland Rd, Hendersonville, NC 28792

2. Use our Action Form to send one letter to DEQ letting them know you oppose the draft permit and a separate letter to the Henderson County Commission urging them to clean up Clear Creek and connect Edneyville to Hendersonville’s existing sewer system.

Henderson County needs to clean up Clear Creek, not make it more polluted.

For decades, the aquatic habitat of Clear Creek has been impacted by pollution from human and livestock waste, fertilizers, and sediment. Discharge from a new Wastewater Treatment Plant would only worsen the pollution problem. Several studies have shown that effluent from wastewater treatment plants contains toxins that can adversely affect aquatic life. Therefore, additional discharge from a new wastewater treatment plant could further degrade Clear Creek.

The Clean Water Act prohibits North Carolina from issuing an NPDES permit that would authorize a new discharge into a stream that is already impaired without first preparing an analysis showing that the discharge will not further impair water quality. North Carolina also requires that the County pursue “the most environmentally sound alternative [to be] selected from the reasonably cost-effective options” [15A N.C. Admin. Code 2H.0105(c)(2)]. In the case of Edneyville, the alternative of connecting to Hendersonville’s existing sewer system and wastewater treatment plant is more environmentally sound and reasonably cost-effective — it will also prevent a new discharge into an already impaired stream.

DEQ must uphold the Clean Water Act by denying a permit that would allow the County to further pollute an already impaired waterway. Instead, Henderson County should work with the City of Hendersonville to connect Edneyville to the City’s existing sewer lines and wastewater treatment plant. Additionally, Henderson County should adopt a Comprehensive Plan that discourages sprawl and protects the rural character and water quality of Edneyville and other county communities. 

 

Thank you.

Take Action to Protect Old-Growth and Mature Forests in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests

Take Action to Protect Old-Growth and Mature Forests in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests

Take Action to Protect Old-Growth and Mature Forests in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests

The U.S. Forest Service has announced a plan to amend all 128 forest management plans nationwide — including the plan for the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forests — in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order directing his administration to conserve old-growth forests. 

This is a critical opportunity to fix some of the issues with the deeply flawed Pisgah-Nantahala management plan that placed 100,000 acres of old-growth forests, natural heritage areas, roadless areas, and sensitive habitats in zones that are open to commercial logging. You can take action in two ways:

  1. Sign our petition calling on the Forest Service to amend the Nantahala Pisgah National Forests management plan to protect our old-growth forests.
    (Deadline: Feb. 2, 9 AM)
  2. Submit your own unique public comment through the Forest Service portal.
    (Deadline: Feb. 2, 11:59 PM)

Old-growth forests store large amounts of carbon, clean the air we breathe, maintain and increase biodiversity, filter water, and reduce wildfire risks. The old-growth forests of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests are home to several endangered and threatened species, including four species of endangered bats and the imperiled Blue Ridge lineage of green salamanders. 

The amendments proposed by the Forest Service should create standards for the protection of all old-growth forests on National Forest Lands. It’s important that the new rule is strong enough to protect the rich biodiversity of our region and to keep these massive carbon stores firmly rooted in the soil to mitigate climate change and flexible enough to allow for the restoration of old-growth stand structure and wildfire resilience. 

Thank you for your commitment to resilient forests. Please take action today.

Petition: Ask Ingles, Walmart, Target, CVS and other businesses in NC to stop using disposable, single-use plastics.

Petition: Ask Ingles, Walmart, Target, CVS and other businesses in NC to stop using disposable, single-use plastics.

Petition: Ask Ingles, Walmart, Target, CVS and other businesses in NC to stop using disposable, single-use plastics.

Single-use plastics clog up Western North Carolina’s rivers and streams and break down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Once in waterways, these microplastics are consumed by aquatic life forms, which are then ingested by the larger organisms that eat them, including humans. The bioaccumulation of these plastics and the additives used to make them can be harmful or toxic to both wildlife and people. 

Plastic pollution is a global problem. We all need to be part of the solution, including our grocers, retailers, and the business community. Sign our petition and join the movement for a Plastic-Free WNC. We’ll bring your signatures to local business owners and lawmakers and work with them to address our plastic pollution problem at the source. 

WE WANT A PLASTIC-FREE WNC:

I believe it’s time for INGLES, WALMART, TARGET, CVS, AND OTHER BUSINESSES IN WNC to quit using disposable, single-use plastics. We don’t want plastic shopping bags and styrofoam forced onto us or our environment because:

  • plastics are made from a byproduct of hydrofracking, which includes fossil fuel extraction;
  • the oil and gas industry’s efforts to increase plastic production as a means to shore up their business model has been well documented;
  • oil refineries, plastic manufacturers, and incinerators tend to be located in low-income communities, which bear the brunt of the associated health impacts; 
  • recycling is insufficient to meet these threats as plastic production is expected to increase 40 percent over the next decade, with plastic production accounting for 20 percent of global fossil fuel consumption. Less than 5 percent of plastic is recycled, and that percentage has been dropping since the implementation of China’s National Sword policy in January of 2018;
  • numerous studies have documented the prevalence of plastic carry-out bags littering the environment, blocking storm drains, becoming entangled in treetops, and fouling public areas; 
  • curbing the supply of single-use plastic will expand the lifespan of local landfills; 
  • numerous studies have shown the negative environmental and health effects of plastics and the chemicals used to produce them;
  • styrene, the main ingredient in polystyrene, has been declared a probable carcinogen by the NIH, National Research Council, the World Health Organization, and others; 
  • plastic bags and other plastic products are a substantial source of marine debris, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of marine animals each year; 
  • studies have shown the presence of microplastics in terrestrial and marine life systems throughout the entire planet, resulting in wholesale contamination of the food supply due to the proliferation of plastic litter and plastic breakdown products; 
  • plastic bags cause operational problems at recycling processing facilities, landfills, and transfer stations, and contribute to litter throughout the WNC region;
  • numerous states and cities throughout the United States have enacted single-use plastic bag plastic bans, resulting in dramatic decreases in plastics waste; and
  • many countries throughout the world have banned plastic bags and/or single-use plastics, including China, Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, India, Eritrea, Benin, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Mali, Tunisia, Malawi, Mauritania, The Gambia, Kenya, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Cameroon, Morocco, Togo, Cabo Verde, Burundi, and Guinea-Bissau; and
  • single-use plastics break down into microplastics which have been found and quantified in all our region’s watershed.

Oct. 13. Join us for The River Runs On Screening in Hendersonville, NC

Oct. 13. Join us for The River Runs On Screening in Hendersonville, NC

Oct. 13. Join us for The River Runs On Screening in Hendersonville, NC

After three years in the making, we’re excited to finally bring to Hendersonville the feature documentary, The River Runs On! This film explores the release of a forest plan that decides the fate of two of the most important national forests in the country – the Pisgah and Nantahala. Featuring some of the top conservationists and most popular spots within the region, the documentary reflects on our relationship with these public lands and what the future may hold for this unique part of the world.

Film Screening of The River Run On
Trinity Presbyterian Church
900 Blythe Street, Hendersonville, NC 28791
October 13. Doors at 6:30 p.m. | Film at 7:00 p.m.
Get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-river-runs-on-film-screening-tickets-707948552177?aff=oddtdtcreator

Shortly following the film, we will have a Q&A with the director of the film, Garrett Martin, and Mountain True’s Public Lands Field Biologist, Josh Kelly. Members of the audience will be able to ask questions about the Pisgah-Nanatahala Forest Plan and its release.

To learn more about the film, please visit www.theriverrunson.com

Watch the trailer at https://vimeo.com/764170588

Petition: Ask Ingles, Walmart, Target, CVS and other businesses in NC to stop using disposable, single-use plastics.

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

Breaking News: A draft conference report of the state budget released to the media includes language that would prohibit counties (§ 153A-145.11) and cities (§ 160A-205.6) from passing ordinances, resolutions, or rules that would restrict, tax, or charge a fee on auxiliary containers — the definition of which includes bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging.

This language would preempt local control and undermine existing provisions of the NC Solid Waste Management Act that give counties and cities the authority to ban single-use plastic bags and other forms of packaging and the use of plastic foam (e.g., styrofoam) in foodware.

Plastic pollution is a threat to our environment and to the health of North Carolina residents. Email your legislators and let them know that our right to protect ourselves from dangerous pollutants is too important to be traded away to fossil fuel and retail industry lobbyists in backroom deals.

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Media Contacts: 

Karim Olaechea, Deputy Director of Strategy & Communications at MountainTrue
(828) 400-0768, karim@mountaintrue.org

Katie Craig, State Director at NCPIRG
kcraig@ncpirg.org 

Ken Brame, President of the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group
(828) 423-8045,kenbrame10@gmail.com

Michelle B. Nowlin, Co-Director at Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
(919) 613-8502, nowlin@law.duke.edu 

For Immediate Release

Raleigh, September 19 — A draft conference report of the state budget released to the media includes language that would prohibit counties (§ 153A-145.11) and cities (§ 160A-205.6) from passing ordinances, resolutions, or rules that would restrict, tax, or charge a fee on auxiliary containers — the definition of which includes bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging. 

This language would preempt local control and undermine existing provisions of the NC Solid Waste Management Act that give counties and cities the authority to ban single-use plastic bags and other forms of packaging and the use of plastic foam (e.g., styrofoam) in foodware. The inclusion of the preemption in the budget comes as both Asheville and Durham are considering ordinances to reduce plastic pollution, and the towns of Woodfin and Black Mountain have passed resolutions in support of a Buncombe County-wide ordinance. In 2021, Wilmington also passed a resolution encouraging the reduction of plastic waste.

Efforts to reduce plastic waste are popular among citizens and businesses. A survey from the City of Asheville received nearly 7,000 resident responses and showed support at 80%. Among 57 businesses surveyed in the Asheville area, there was widespread support for a waste reduction ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, plastic takeout containers, and styrofoam products.

The following are statements from representatives of organizations working to reduce plastic pollution: 

Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper (a program of MountainTrue):
“Plastic pollution is a threat to our environment and the health of North Carolina residents. Our right to protect ourselves from dangerous pollutants is too important to be traded away to fossil fuel and retail industry lobbyists in backroom deals. We urge our elected officials to remove any such language and pass a clean budget.” 

Sarah Ogletree, Director of the Creation Care Alliance of WNC (a program of MountainTrue):
“This ban is about loving our neighbors—protecting the air and water we all need to survive and thrive. The General Assembly should not prevent us from living our faith by caring for God’s creation.” 

Katie Craig, State Director of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group:
“Plastic waste threatens our health, environment, and communities. Our cities and counties often bear the impacts of our plastic waste problem, from managing recycling and landfill facilities to cleaning up litter in our parks and waterways. So, they should have a say in how their communities address the problem too. By preempting local authority to regulate single-use plastic bags, this provision threatens to undermine the ability of cities and counties in North Carolina to take meaningful steps towards sustainability, environmental protection, and the wishes of their own communities.”

Ken Brame, President of the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group:
At a time when we are seeing record heat waves and flooding due to Climate Change, why would the NC General Assembly prevent local governments from reducing carbon-intensive plastic bags? Microplastics from plastic bags are being ingested and are becoming a health risk.  The General Assembly should care more about the health of its citizens than the profits of the plastic industry.”

Susannah Knox, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center:
“This is a short-sighted attempt to take control from local governments trying to serve their communities by protecting public health and cleaning up their streets and creeks. Citizens and businesses across the state have expressed overwhelming support for reducing plastic pollution, and politicians in the General Assembly should not stand in their way.”

If you or your organization, club, or business would like to voice their support for a Plastic-Free WNC, please contact karim@mountaintrue.org

 

# # # 

Petition: Ask Ingles, Walmart, Target, CVS and other businesses in NC to stop using disposable, single-use plastics.

Take Action! Sept. 19: Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County

Take Action! Sept. 19: Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County

It’s time for Buncombe County to act.

Join MountainTrue, the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group, the N.C. Public Interest Research Group, and the Creation Care Alliance for a rally to call on Buncombe County Commissioners to take action to protect the public and the environment from plastic pollution. The rally will begin at 4 p.m. and will feature a very exclusive appearance by our very own French Broad Mermaid, rousing remarks, and a prayer vigil led by Sarah Ogletree, Director of the Creation Care Alliance. Wear blue to show that you support a Plastic-Free WNC. 

Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County
Tuesday, September 19
Rally at 4 p.m. | Commissioners Meeting at 5 p.m
200 College Street, Suite 300
Asheville, NC 28801

On Monday, September 11, Town Commissioners in Black Mountain unanimously (with one absence) approved a resolution calling on Buncombe County to pass an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic shopping bags at the checkout aisle and styrofoam takeout containers. With the passage of this resolution, Black Mountain has become the second municipality within Buncombe County to call on County Commissioners to fulfill their obligation under the North Carolina Solid Waste Management Act to reduce plastic pollution. The Town of Woodfin passed a similar resolution by a vote of 5-1 on August 15, 2023.

Now it’s time for Buncombe County to fulfill its obligation under the NC Solid Waste Management Act to pass a common-sense law to reduce plastic pollution. 

Can’t make it to the rally? Email Buncombe County Commissioners and ask them to take action to reduce plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is a global problem, and we must act locally to do our part.

That’s why MountainTrue is advocating for a county-wide ban on single-use plastic bags and styrofoam at grocery and retail store checkout counters paired with a 10-cent fee on paper bags. More than 500 local governments in 28 states across the country have already passed such laws to reduce plastic pollution. If we want Buncombe County to be next, we need to show them that we have broad support.

The Plastic-Free WNC ordinance would:

  • Ban the use of plastic shopping bags and styrofoam cups by fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers.

  • Charge a 10¢ fee for recyclable paper bags (made from 40% post-consumer waste) that is collected by the business.

  • Exempt customers using EBT, SNAP, and WIC from paying the 10¢ fee.

  • Encourage businesses to provide plastic straws by request only.

 

Facts About Our Ban on Single-Use Plastics

Microplastics are a dangerous emerging contaminant.
Plastics don’t biodegrade; they break down into smaller and smaller pieces of microplastic that stay in our environment for thousands of years.

These microscopic pieces of plastic waste are everywhere.
We all breathe/consume approximately one credit card’s worth of microplastics every week. Microplastics have been found in the human placenta and breast milk.

Plastic production generates as much CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) gas as 116 coal-fired power plants.
As of 2020, the US plastics industry was responsible for at least 232 million tons of CO2e gas emissions per year, which is the equivalent of 116 average-sized (500-megawatt) coal-fired power plants (Beyond Plastics: The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change, 2021).

Plastic production is ramping up and much of it is for the purpose of creating wasteful, single-use plastics. 
42% of plastic production is for single-use packaging (Science Advances: Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastic Ever Made, 2017). Half of all plastics created were produced in the last 15 years (NRDC: Single-Use Plastic 101, 2020).

Plastic films account for 40% of the microplastics found in the French Broad River.
MountainTrue has conducted widespread microplastic sampling throughout the French Broad Watershed. On average, we’ve found 15.5 pieces of microplastic per 1-liter sample of water, with some samples as high as 40 or 50 pieces per liter. The most common type of microplastics in the French Broad River is films (39.5%), the sources of which are plastic bags, food packaging, and candy wrappers.

Plastics are harmful to human health.
Plastics contain 7% chemical additives on average. Researchers suspect these chemicals contribute to reproductive health problems and declining sperm counts in Western countries. Phthalates, used to enhance the durability of plastic products, are found in personal care products, food packaging, children’s toys, shower curtains, and more. These chemical additives disrupt the endocrine system and harm the reproductive and nervous systems.

Styrofoam contains a likely carcinogen that leaches into food, drinks, and water supplies.
Styrene is used to make styrofoam cups, food containers, and disposable coolers, and leaches into the food and drinks they hold and from landfills into drinking water. It’s classified as a likely human carcinogen that causes liver, kidney, and circulatory problems.

A ban on single-use plastic bags in Buncombe County would have significant environmental benefits.
A ban on single-use plastic bags paired with a 10-cent fee on paper bags would reduce Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 43%, fossil fuel consumption by 86%, solid waste by 66%, greenhouse gas emissions by 83%, fresh water consumption by 32%, and energy use by 73.3% compared to plastic. Read more about the environmental benefits of our proposed ordinance here.

Our plastic bag ban would not be overly burdensome for people with lower incomes.
Our proposed ordinance would exempt customers using EBT, SNAP, and WIC from paying the 10-cent fee on paper bags. Even without that exception, the average cost to Buncombe County consumers would only be $3.33 per year, and customers can reduce or eliminate those costs by bringing reusable bags to the store.

Buncombe County has the legal authority to pass a plastic bag ban under the North Carolina Solid Waste Management Act.
The NC Solid Waste Management Act asserts that it’s North Carolina’s policy to prioritize waste reduction at the source and mandates that towns, cities, and counties implement programs and other actions to address deficiencies and “protect human health and the environment.” Because the presence of a pollutant that is harmful to human health and the environment has been documented in our region, the law mandates that local governments act.

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

MountainTrue Statement on Town of Black Mountain Resolution in Support of a Plastic Bag Ban

MountainTrue Statement on Town of Black Mountain Resolution in Support of a Plastic Bag Ban

Black Mountain, NC — On Monday, September 11, Town Commissioners in Black Mountain unanimously (with one absence) approved a resolution calling on Buncombe County to pass an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic shopping bags at the checkout aisle and styrofoam takeout containers.

With the passage of this resolution, Black Mountain has become the second municipality within Buncombe County to call on County Commissioners to fulfill their obligation under the North Carolina Solid Waste Management Act to reduce plastic pollution. The Town of Woodfin passed a similar resolution by a vote of 5-1 on August 15, 2023. The City of Asheville is expected to take up its own plastic reduction ordinance in October after a year of planning and surveying city residents and business owners.

The following is a statement from Anna Alsobrook, MountainTrue’s French Broad Watershed Science and Policy Manager:

We know that plastic pollution is a threat to human health and to our environment. Therefore, Buncombe County Commissioners have legal responsibility under North Carolina law to protect our residents by passing a ban on single-use plastic bags and styrofoam. More than 500 local governments across 28 U.S. states have taken action to reduce plastic pollution. This should be a slamdunk; we’ve even written a model ordinance for them. If you care about the health of our communities and our environment, please join us at the next Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting on September 19 at 5 p.m. to let them know that you want them to take action to reduce plastic pollution.

MountainTrue, the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group, the N.C. Public Interest Research Group and the Creation Care Alliance are rallying their members to attend the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting on September 19 at 5 p.m. Details at mountaintrue.org.

Victory – Eleven Streams in the Watauga River Basin Receive Special Protections

Victory – Eleven Streams in the Watauga River Basin Receive Special Protections

Victory – Eleven Streams in the Watauga River Basin Receive Special Protections

Congratulations! 

Thanks to your support and advocacy, eleven streams within the Watauga River Basin will now receive special protections as Outstanding Resource Waters or High-Quality Waters, starting September 1st. This remarkable achievement is a significant step in safeguarding the health of our local rivers, protecting the delicate aquatic ecosystems, and supporting the recreation economy of the High Country.

Your dedication has been instrumental in winning these stronger water-quality designations. Back in April, we called on you to stand up for these beautiful streams by emailing the Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Management Commission (EMC)  and attending a public hearing. Your response was overwhelming, and your passion for preserving our natural treasures was evident.

Two Ways to Support Our Clean Waters Program

Two Ways to Support Our Clean Waters Program

Make a Contribution

Your generosity helps keep our rivers, lakes, and streams fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.

Get a Hellbender Hoodie

Proceeds from our t-shirts and sweatshirts fund our Riverkeepers & Clean Waters programs.

The hard work has paid off! During their July 13th meeting, EMC Commissioner Pat Harris acknowledged that all public comments were overwhelmingly in favor of the reclassification, leading the commission to vote unanimously in favor of the new designations.

Newly Designated Outstanding Resource Waters:

  • Green Ridge Branch
  • Harrison Branch
  • Upper Laurel Fork
  • Dutch Creek
  • South Fork Ellison Branch
  • Laurel Creek
  • Shawneehaw Creek

Newly Designated High-Quality Waters:

  • Little Beaverdam Creek
  • West Fork Rube Creek
  • Stone Mountain Branch
  • Craborchard Creek

These Outstanding Resource Waters and High-Quality Waters will now benefit from stricter water quality standards, preventing the discharge of harmful pollutants that could endanger their pristine condition. These designations also create opportunities for additional buffer requirements, safeguarding these streams from runoff and pollution originating from agricultural operations, urban development, and industry.

Your support has been critical, and we couldn’t be prouder of our River Family! But we won’t stop here – the success of this campaign will serve as a model and inspiration as we pursue similar reclassification efforts in other basins.

To continue our crucial work and ensure that our rivers remain swimmable, fishable, and drinkable for future generations, we need your help. Your generous contributions make this work possible. 

Donate today, and let’s keep this momentum going!  Together, we can create a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future for our communities.

Thank you for being part of MountainTrue and our High Country River Family. We are deeply grateful for your commitment to our rivers and your support.

Gratefully,

Andy Hill
Watauga Riverkeeper & MountainTrue High Country Regional Director