E-Vistas Newsletter – September 2021

E-Vistas Newsletter – September 2021

Creation Care Alliance: Sustainable and Just Food Systems

Join the Creation Care Alliance from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday, September 16, for a time of centering, community and learning about sustainable and just food systems. We will hear from Jarred White and Michelle Osborne of Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA regarding how faith communities can care for people and places through food ministry. We’ll have break-out room conversations following their discussion to brainstorm the ways we can deepen our current creation care and ecological justice initiatives by investing more in healthy land and food. We can’t wait to spend time with you! Learn more and register.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Share Your feedback on ‘AVL Shares Space’ Outdoor Expansion Initiatives

The City of Asheville is seeking public feedback on temporary initiatives launched in the spring of 2020 to support safe business operations and customer access during COVID-19. With assistance from MountainTrue’s Asheville Design Center, these initiatives have enabled over 100 businesses and organizations in Asheville to expand into adjacent outdoor public spaces and parking lots.

Take the survey here. The survey will remain open through September 20. (Participating businesses are being surveyed separately.)

The AVL Shares Space initiatives include the following:

  • “Shared Streets” (pedestrian priority environment and use of on-street parking spaces along a corridor)
  • Temporary Parklets (use of on-street parking spaces)
  • Expansion on private lots (i.e. parking lots)
  • Expansion on public sidewalks
  • 10-minute curbside pick-up zones

Take the Close the GAP Survey

The City of Asheville is updating the City’s Greenway (G), Accessibility (A), and Pedestrian (P) Plans. The combined plan, which is referred to as “Close the GAP,” will look to update and expand the network of accessible sidewalks and greenways for our community.

The City has issued a Close the Gap Survey that asks a series of questions about you and your walking and wheeling needs on Asheville’s streets and greenways. In addition, they have produced a video that provides an overview of the Close the GAP Planning Process.

High Country Regional News

For Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties

Meet Our New AmeriCorps, Kylie Barnes

Please welcome our new AmeriCorps member, Kylie Barnes! She will serve a one-year term as our High Country Water Quality Administrator, managing our water quality programs and providing educational outreach. Kylie is a recent graduate from Appalachian State University, where she earned degrees in Economics and Sustainable Development. We are thrilled to have her on our team and look forward to the skills and perspective she brings to the High Country.

Winkler’s Creek Trash Trout Repaired, Back in Service

The Winkler’s Creek Trash Trout sustained some damage from Hurricane Fred. Our team was able to make the needed repairs and get the Trash Trout up and running again. In the most recent haul, we recovered 800 individual pieces of trash, mainly consisting of styrofoam, plastic bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts.

Help Clean Up Watauga Lake

Join the Watauga Riverkeeper and the Watauga Watershed Alliance for a trash and litter cleanup on September 18. On-site registration and equipment pickup is from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the following locations: Fishsprings Marina, Pioneer Landing Marina, Roan Creek Bridge on Highway 167. If you have any questions, please contact wataugawatershedalliance@gmail.com or Andy Hill at andy@mountaintrue.org.

Learn about Creation Care at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Join the Creation Care Alliance (CCA) on Saturday, October 2, for a picnic and community-building event at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Meet CCA’s new director Sarah Ogletree, spend time with others in your region dedicated to the work of creation care, and think about the callings to ecological justice pressing on the hearts of the High Country. Our lunch gathering will happen from 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn more.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Weigh in on the Henderson County 2045 Comprehensive Plan!

Henderson Country has kicked off its Comprehensive Planning effort with a Community Survey. This is an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our county meets the challenges of climate change, a growing population and increased pressures on our built and natural environments. We’ve prepared a guide for members of MountainTrue who want to see our community grow sustainably and responsibly. Click here for a list of suggested responses and more information about the survey and other opportunities for public input.

Second Annual Broad River Fishing Tournament is a Great Success!

On Saturday, August 28, MountainTrue’s Broad Riverkeeper and NC Wildlife Resources Commission kicked off the Second Annual Broad River Fishing Tournament at the Broad River Greenway in Cleveland County! The tournament is a fun competition and a great way for MountainTrue to engage with the diverse communities that enjoy swimming and fishing in the Broad River. Tanya Poole with NC Wildlife Resources Commission provided fishing poles, tackle and bait to share with kids and offered fishing instruction to all who were interested. David Caldwell, our Broad Riverkeeper, ran some short fishing trips with his canoe, and we served up some homemade peach ice cream! Participants caught a lot of fish on opening day and throughout the week, but the title of Broad’s Best Angler 2021 went to Fitz McMurry, with three fish for a combined length of 59 inches!

Join Us for a Moonlight Float on the Broad River!

Paddle with us by the light of the moon on September 18! We will put in at Lake Houser in NC and float to the Broad River Greenway in Boiling Springs, NC. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MountainTrue is limiting our guided trips to a maximum of 10 participants. Sign up.

Litter Cleanups on the Green and Broad Rivers on Saturday, September 25

September 25 will be our Sixth Annual Sarah Sweep. We’ll be cleaning up from Double Shoals to Zion Church Road on the First Broad River. All are welcome to join us on this lovely section of the river that Sarah Spencer held dear to her heart. While paddling the shallow and shaded waters that flow between rock cliffs and rhododendron, Sarah would always stop to pick up any litter along the way. Sarah and several friends died tragically in 2016, and this event is in honor of these friends and their love for the river. Sign up here: https://mountaintrue.org/event/sixth-annual-sarah-sweep-on-the-broad-river/

On the same day, you can join our Green Riverkeeper will be hosting a cleanup of the Lower Green in Polk County, from Big Rock Access to the Lake Adger Public Marina. We’ll be giving the river a thorough cleaning after a busy recreation season in the gorge. Sign up.

Western Regional News

For Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties in NC, and Towns and Union counties in GA

Fifth Annual Fall Native Tree and Shrub Sale

We are now accepting orders for our Fall Native Tree Sale Fundraiser. Choose from 34 native species, ranging from large shade trees to smaller ornamental shrubs. All plants are quality nursery stock and are available in one to three-gallon pots. Native plants are a great way to support pollinators and wildlife species. We are accepting orders until November 14. You can pick up your purchases from MountainTrue West office parking lot in Murphy, NC, on Saturday, November 20, 9:00-1:00. Finally, learn why it’s great to plant trees in the dormant season and start planting. Place your order today!

Planning For the Future of Bryson City

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MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities director, Chris Joyell, led an interesting walking tour through downtown Bryson City in August. He reviewed recommendations from the Bryson City Community Assessment Report completed by Handmade in America in March 2011. The town has made many improvements over the past 10 years, including attractive directional signage and a covered river-side pavilion near the historic courthouse museum. The Town of Bryson City is currently updating its Land Use Plan to guide future changes that will affect residents and visitors over the next 25 years. If you live, work or play in Bryson City, please complete the Opportunities and Challenges Survey before September 17!

Hiwassee Lake Big Sweep: September 25th

NC Big Sweep is a statewide litter cleanup program that brings citizens and community organizations together to clear trash from their waterways. The annual Hiwassee Lake Big Sweep event hosted by Mainspring Conservation Trust is set for Saturday, September 25. All residents are encouraged to participate, especially anyone who can bring their own boats. To promote social distancing, Mainspring has created a list of “Litter Zones” in need of attention. All litter must be dropped off at the Hanging Dog Boat Ramp before Sunday morning. Details can be found on Facebook.

Volunteer This Fall on the Murphy River Walk

Starting September 27, MountainTrue will host a series of community volunteer workdays on the River Walk in Murphy, NC. Each Monday afternoon this fall (weather permitting) and probably on a Saturday or two, volunteers will work to control nonnative invasive plants along sections of the trail using hand tools. No prior experience is necessary to participate, and we will provide tools and training. Please email Tony Ward if you’re interested in helping with this project. Join us to learn, give back to the community and gain experience you can use to eradicate invasive plants on your own property!

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Sep 18 – Asheville Urban Bike Tour

Sep 18 – Moonlight Float

Sep 18 – Big Sweep on Watauga Lake

Sep 22 – Building Our City: Sustainable Tourism

Sep 25 – Sixth Annual Sarah Sweep

Sep 25 – Green River Big Sweep

Oct 7 – High Country Annual Member Gathering
4:30 – 6 p.m. at Valle Crucis Community Park – Details to come.

Oct 9 – Fall Scenic Hike

Oct 16 – Broad River Fall Float

Oct 20 – Western Region Annual Member Gathering
Details to come.

Oct 26 – Southern Region Annual Member Gathering
Details to come.

Nov 5 – Tanawha Trail Hike

Nov 7 – Buncombe Solar Trolley Tour

Our Recommendation for the Henderson County Community Survey

Our Recommendation for the Henderson County Community Survey

Our Recommendation for the Henderson County Community Survey

Henderson Country has kicked off its Comprehensive Planning effort with a Community Survey. This is an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our county grows and develops to meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and increased pressures on our built and natural environments.

This is a guide for members of MountainTrue who want to see our community grow sustainably and responsibly. The survey has 13 questions. Questions 2-7 are the most relevant to the work and issues of concern to MountainTrue, our members and supporters. Below we provide you with a list of suggestions, and a brief explanation for each of these questions.

TAKE THE SURVEY NOW
Check out the schedule of open houses. Save the date to participate in person.

9/14/21 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm – Dana Community Park
9/21/21 from 2:30pm to 4:30pm – Tuxedo Park
10/6/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College
10/12/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Hendersonville Main Library
10/18/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Edneyville Community Center
10/26/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Community Center at Crab Creek
11/3/21 from 4pm to 6pm – TBA
11/2/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Fletcher Library
11/9/21 from 4pm to 6pm – Etowah Library
For up-to-date meeting details, visit: https://www.hendersoncountync.gov/planning/page/county-comprehensive-plan

Question 2. Henderson County’s population has grown 38% between 2000 and 2020. If this growth trend continues, what potential impacts of growth are you most concerned about? (Select up to three)

As this question relates to MountainTrue’s principles, we recommend choosing answers that promote healthy communities, those that have increased sidewalks, bike lanes, greenway connections, and public transportation – methods of transportation that are equitable and serve all communities. We encourage long-range plans and land-use controls for more housing choice, and climate resilience — especially those that protect ecologically sensitive areas. With this in mind, we have reordered the options in accordance with trends that provide the greatest positive impact, and we recommend choosing three from the top of the list:

  • Loss of farmland, and/or impacts to natural resources
  • Housing availability/affordability
  • Other (please specify) Climate resiliency
  • Neighborhood density
  • Utility and infrastructure capacity
  • Outdoor recreation opportunities development

Question 3. The future of Henderson County is dependent upon a variety of factors. Which of the following factors should this 25-year comprehensive plan prioritize? (Select up to five)

The recommendations we made for answering question #2 above also relate to question #3, and we would add: Resilient forests are an asset to healthy communities as is good water quality, with strong stormwater rules and enforcement to support them. Our energy future, free from fossil fuels, is also a priority. While the survey lists many factors that deserve our attention, we encourage you to focus on the factors that deliver the greatest impact on our community. With this in mind, we recommend you choose your five from the top of the list, which we have arranged:

  • Protect open spaces/forests
  • Conservation of unique natural areas
  • Increase energy efficiency and reduce waste
  • Maintaining/improving water quality
  • Increase sidewalks/bike lanes/pedestrian connectivity
  • Farmland preservation
  • Reduce vulnerabilities to wildfire, flooding, and landslides
  • Increase public transportation options
  • Greenway connections
  • Coordinate with towns & cities on development
  • River access for boating & fishing

Question 4. What is one priority you would like the County to address in the next 2-5 years? Blank space provided.

“Minimize the County’s sewer and waterline obligations, reduce urban sprawl, and preserve the County’s rural character by reinvesting in the areas we’ve already developed. Increase housing choice, invite mixed use development, and center it around town centers and main thoroughfares.”

Question 5. Which of the following development types do you feel are missing from the County? (Select up to three)

We recommend choosing the development types that support density close to towns and cities in order to take pressure off of rural undeveloped areas. It is also the fiscally responsible choice to invest in the areas we have already developed, rather than extending new infrastructure to undeveloped lands. Choose your three from the top of the list, which we have arranged:

  • Other (please specify) Suggestion: Mixed-use infill development, expanding housing choices to include duplexes, triplexes and small multi-family courtyard units
  • Parks and recreation
  • Agriculture and agri-tourism

Question 6. Which is the single most important role for Henderson County government in the land use and zoning process, if any? (Would not apply to incorporated towns, cities, or villages)

We recommend choosing: Enhance regulations of property land use MountainTrue supports stronger regulations that limit construction on steep slopes and in flood plains, and ensure that new developments don’t negatively impact communities and our natural environment.

Question 7. When making decisions related to land use, should the County Board of Commissioners weigh the impact to the property owners closest to the proposed project more so than the overall benefit to the County as a whole?

We recommend you choose “Somewhat disagree.” While it is important that nearby property owners have a say in the process and that projects generally adhere to existing zoning regulations, the priority should be on making our community sustainable and livable for everyone. As such, we favor a balanced approach that weighs the interests of property owners with the needs of the greater community.

Want to halt plastics pollution in WNC? Think globally, act locally.

Want to halt plastics pollution in WNC? Think globally, act locally.

Did you know that Americans use 100 billion plastic bags each year, and, on average, we use them for only 12 minutes? It’s true.

And once a plastic bag is thrown away, it takes 500 years to degrade. However, it never really goes away. Instead, each plastic bag breaks down into millions of smaller and smaller particles called microplastics.

These microscopic pieces of plastic are everywhere — from dust particles in the atmosphere to the deepest parts of the ocean. You breathe in and consume approximately one credit card’s worth of microplastics each week, and the health effects of this are largely unknown.

Make a Contribution Today

We’re working to reduce the amount of plastics making their way into the environment. Will you lend a hand in the fight against plastics? Donate today.

Many of us are familiar with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and plastics in our oceans, but plastics are a growing problem in the rivers of Western North Carolina. MountainTrue has been taking regular water samples from watersheds throughout our region for the past couple of years. Early data shows 15-20 pieces of microplastics per liter in the French Broad River and 7-13 pieces per liter in the Watauga River. These results are among the highest on record for plastic pollution in rivers.   

Plastic pollution is a global problem, but we all have to be part of the solution. That’s why MountainTrue is taking a multi-faceted approach:

In Asheville and Buncombe County, we’re pushing for an outright ban on plastic bags, styrofoam, plastic straws, coffee stirrers, and cup lids.

In Hendersonville, we’re partnering with the City and local businesses on the “Working to be Plastic Free” program to help businesses voluntarily transition away from one-time-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws, and takeout containers.

In Boone, as in other parts of our region, we’ve deployed a Trash Trout to collect litter already in the waterway. We collect the trash each week, sort it, and catalog it to inform future advocacy.

And in Raleigh, we’re advocating for state-wide legislation to ban plastic bags and plastics and styrofoam in food service.

MountainTrue volunteer Erica Shanks poses with garbage, mostly plastic, collected from the Green River. 

One week’s worth of plastic collected in our Winkler Creek Trash Trout near Boone, NC .

A microfiber from one of our water samples viewed through a microscope in our lab.

This is just the beginning, but it already represents a significant expansion of our water quality work. To succeed, we need your help and support.

Your support today will help pay for testing equipment, public awareness efforts, lobbying trips to Raleigh, and more. We need these investments to effectively advocate for policies that protect the health and environment of the people and places we all love. 

Donate today, and visit mountaintrue.org/plastic-free-wnc  to take action. With your help, we can stop plastics at the source.

Pass a Plastic Reduction Bill in North Carolina

Pass a Plastic Reduction Bill in North Carolina

Pass a Plastic Reduction Bill in North Carolina

Image above: plastic makes up a majority of the garbage that MountainTrue pulls out of its Trash Trout litter-collection device on Winkler Creek in Boone, NC.

Plastic pollution is a global problem, but we all need to be part of the solution.

Take action today, and call on the North Carolina General Assembly to enact a smart plastic reduction bill to reduce our reliance on cheap, single-use plastics and clean up our environment.

Single-use plastics are clogging up North Carolina’s rivers and streams. These plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, and plastic bags take hundreds of years to degrade, but they never really go away. Instead, they end up as microscopic fragments, films and fibers of plastic that end up in our environment, in our food system and even in our bodies. 

We breathe in and consume approximately one credit card’s worth of microplastics each week. Though the health effects of this are largely unknown, plastics and the additives used to make them can be harmful or toxic to both wildlife and people. Studies have shown harmful effects on our respiratory, reproductive, and nervous systems. 

Fortunately, there are bills before the North Carolina Senate (SB 451) and House of Representatives (HB 959) that would ban single-use plastic shopping bags, utensils, and styrofoam cups and packaging. Food packaging is a significant source of the plastics that we find in our rivers. If passed, these bills would help us reduce the amount of plastic in North Carolina’s environment. 

Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

Approval of a new state budget is near the top of the North Carolina General Assembly’s To-Do list every year.

And ensuring that the budget includes investments for Western North Carolina’s natural resources is a big part of MountainTrue’s legislative agenda.

We got an early read on how our budget priorities may fare this year recently when the North Carolina Senate approved its version of the state’s new spending plan a few weeks ago. The news – so far anyway – is pretty good.

The Senate budget includes some of our top priorities, including recurring funding to maintain the state’s landslide hazard mapping efforts in our region; funding to identify and address failing septic systems that are polluting rivers and streams; and a constellation of conservation investments to restore regional waters and make them more accessible to the public.

Take Action for the Environment

We need your help to win support for much-needed funding to clean up WNC rivers and protect our environment.

Some of the more recognizable investments include $12 million for the new Pisgah View State Park in Buncombe County and $7.5 million for removal of the Big Hungry Dam on the Green River in Henderson County — one of the most expensive and long-sought dam removal projects in the state.

Our team began meeting with legislators about our budget priorities months ago, so it’s great to see some of that work pay off with funding for a number of those projects included. But we would be remiss if we did not thank the legislators who helped with this success — particularly Sen. Chuck Edwards of Henderson County.

Edwards is one of the chairs of a key Senate appropriations committee with responsibility for natural resources investments. He’s been a strong ally of MountainTrue’s efforts to address water quality problems — including E. Coli — in our region and to find the funding for a variety of other investments.

More good news: an important open space conservation fund also gets a big boost under the Senate budget. Last year the state’s Land and Water Conservation Fund provided $21 million in grants. Under the Senate plan, the Fund would receive $73.2 million in this fiscal year and $53.2 million next year. Trust funds for farmland preservation and our state parks system also got big boosts.

While the Senate budget is a good first step, we hope that House budget writers will build on this success and fund two big-ticket items that the Senate did not. WNC urgently needs funding to help farmers pay for fencing and other “best management practices” that will keep cows and stormwater runoff out of rivers and our waters free of E. Coli. Statewide demand for these programs far outstrips the availability of these funds. Likewise, funding to help property owners and local governments upgrade septic and wastewater systems to reduce water pollution in our region are also in great demand.

These two programs need millions of dollars of new investment.

For more information about MountainTrue’s budget priorities, give this document a look (pdf).

With the budget process in Raleigh in full swing, you can help us advocate for these investments. Use the form below to thank Sen. Edwards for his help and encourage House members to build on the Senate’s investments.

Finally — on a different note — many of you have likely heard about the big energy bill now moving at the legislature. At MountainTrue, we have serious concerns about the bill in its current form and are working with many other groups to fashion a much better solution. Look for updates about this issue in an upcoming newsletter.

Thanks for being part of MountainTrue’s advocacy efforts – together, we are helping bring millions of dollars to WNC to improve water quality and expand public access to our rivers and streams.

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

After two weeks of hard-nosed competition, Jackson County won the 2021 Bioblitz, beating Watauga and Transylvania Counties. Overall, 46 people contributed 2,947 observations, and 317 people helped with the identification of 1,228 species. While Jackson County had 1,403 observations to Watauga County’s 1,068, the competition for the most species was much tighter – Jackson county prevailed 738 to 681. Transylvania County came in a distant third with 472 observations and 279 species. Check out our blog post to read more about our Bioblitz results and see photos of the winning observations.

Sarah Ogletree Joins MountainTrue as the Director of the Creation Care Alliance

The Creation Care Alliance is pleased to announce that Sarah Ogletree will be our next director. Sarah comes to us from our close partner, NC Interfaith Power and Light, where she has been for the last three years. Her dedication to seeking justice for both people and planet shines through in all aspects of her life, and she has consistently been recognized with awards for her leadership, dedication and excellence. Join us in welcoming Sarah! Read more.

We’re Hiring! MountainTrue Seeks a Great Environmental Communicator

MountainTrue seeks a bright, organized, and outgoing individual with strong communications skills, experience in online advocacy, and development writing. The Communications Associate will report to the Director of Communications and work closely with our Community Engagement Director, program directors and regional directors to (1) promote our programs through member outreach and correspondence, public relations, social media, and marketing; (2) support our advocacy goals through online organizing/advocacy; (3) provide writing and communications support for our fundraising activities. The deadline to apply is Sunday, August 15, 2021. Read more and apply.

August 29: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River

MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River.

Sunday, August 29, 2021
Doors: 5:00 p.m., Starts: 7:00 p.m.
All Ages are Welcome
Tickets: $35 in advance; $39 general admission

French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson says, “Michael Franti is the perfect artist to bring us back down to the banks of the French Broad to celebrate our beautiful river. Come to enjoy a night of inspiring music and support our ongoing work to make our river cleaner and healthier.” Read more and buy tickets.

High Country Regional News

For Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties

Sparking a Love for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems at High Country Forest Wild

Our Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, visited High Country Forest Wild, an outdoor experiential learning school. She gave an instream lesson on aquatic insects and water quality to about 45 students. It was an excellent way to get young minds thinking about freshwater ecosystems and water quality.

MountainTrue Reports Water Quality Violation for Development Along Watauga Lake

While conducting routine sampling of Watauga Lake for our Harmful Algal Bloom Study, we spotted a new development lacking erosion control. We promptly contacted the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, which issued a notice of violation. We hope to see improvements on the construction site and continue monitoring this development to help keep our waterways free of sediment pollution.

Bottomley Farms Clearcut Causes Severe Erosion, Ecosystem Collapse

Our Watauga Riverkeeper teamed up with Southwings to get a bird’s eye view of a massive clear-cut timber operation in Alleghany County being conducted by Bottomley Farms — a Sparta-based agribusiness company. The developers are removing all the trees, shrubs and vegetation, and grubbed it down to hundreds of acres of bare earth. The result has been severe erosion, sediment pollution of area waterways, and a total collapse of the ecosystem in Ramey Creek — once a thriving spawning ground for native brook trout. North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission staff could only save 13 individual trout out of the hundreds previously documented in that stream. Commission staff relocated the survivors to an adjacent watershed. Tragically, a species that thrived in that watershed since the glaciers retreated tens of thousands of years ago was erased by one egregiously bad timber project. Our report resulted in the NC Department of Environmental Quality issuing a notice of violation. We will continue to monitor this project and push for a lasting riparian buffer and a complete restoration of the stream.

Trash Trout Update: There’s Too Much Plastic in Our Waterways

Our Trash Trout on Winklers Creek continues to collect so much litter. We have removed and cataloged thousands of pieces of trash in the few weeks that the trash-collection device has been in place. The majority of the garbage found has been single-use plastics and styrofoam, underscoring the need to address the prevalence of plastics and microplastics in our environment.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Volunteer for Rhythm & Brews! Hear Good Music and Get Cool Stuff!

Join MountainTrue’s Recycling Team on Main St. during the Rhythm & Brews Concert Series in downtown Hendersonville this summer and fall to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Volunteers will be rewarded with an R&B volunteer t-shirt, a voucher for a free beverage, a koozie and a water bottle! Help educate attendees and monitor the waste stations.

Upcoming Concerts:
July 15: Abby Bryant & The Echoes with opener Andrew Thelston Band
August 19: Jamie McLean Band with opener Hustle Souls.
September 16: Mike and the Moonpies with opener Kenny George Band.
October 21: The Broadcast with opener TBD.

2 Shifts: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. & 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Volunteers needed: 4 per shift, 8 total
To sign up: https://signup.com/go/eRCebTq

Working to be Plastic Free Program Endorsed by Hendersonville City Council

L to R: Beth Stang, chair of Hendersonville’s ESB. Lyndsey Simpson, H’ville City Councilwoman, and Christine Wittmeier, chair of MountainTrue’s Recycling Team, hold a July 1st proclamation endorsing the Working to Be Plastic Free program.

On July 1, Hendersonville City Council approved a proclamation supporting Working to be Plastic Free — a plastic reduction program created by MountainTrue and the Hendersonville Environmental Sustainability Board. Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk signed the pledge and has encouraged staff to reduce the city’s use of plastic.

Many of the local merchants and restaurants participated in a plastics-use survey earlier in the year. Now, we’re encouraging them to sign the pledge and begin working to eliminate single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and take-out containers. Most of these plastics are not recyclable and end up in landfills or littering our rivers and streams.

MountainTrue is ready to help businesses find sustainable packaging alternatives, and participants will be recognized in press releases, newsletters, social media, and a webpage promoting the program. To get more information and sign the pledge, visit our webpage or contact MountainTrue’s Interim Southern Regional Director, Katie Breckheimer, at srogray@mountaintrue.org.

Congratulations to Our Broad River Race Winners: Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe

Broad River Race winners Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe accept the trophy from David Caldwell, the Broad Riverkeeper.

Our Third Annual Broad River Race was postponed when a thunderstorm moved across the area last Saturday, July 12. A day later, the race flag dropped, and the paddlers sped down the river. Four and a half miles and an hour later, Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe were the first to cross the finish line in a tandem canoe to take home our race trophy, Betsy the Turtle. Annie Keith and her son David Caldwell, our Broad Riverkeeper, were hot on their trail. It was great to see so many people enjoying the cool waters of the Broad River, and we look forward to seeing who wins next year.

App State Eco-Tox Team Collects Fish Tissue Samples From the Broad River

The Appalachian State Eco-toxicology Team returned to the Broad River to collect more water, sediment and fish tissue samples for an ongoing study of the bio-accumulation of heavy metals in fish. The team sampled upstream and downstream of two industrial sites with permits to discharge pollutants into the river. MountainTrue will use the results to determine if we need fish consumption advisories for the affected sections of the waterway. Special thanks to our High Country Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, and Appalachian State’s Dr. Shea Tuberty for leading this fantastic project.

ICYMI: Broad River Spring Sweep Collects Over 100 lbs of Litter

We had a small crew for this year’s Annual Broad River Spring Sweep on May 29, but we made a big impact by collecting over 100 lbs of litter (including a football) from the Broad River. It was also inspiring to see so many folks cooling off in the water and enjoying the river at the Greenway canoe access.

Western Regional News

For Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties in NC, and Towns and Union counties in GA

Crossover Timber Project Update: Your Advocacy Is Making a Difference

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly documents the age of a 200-year-old tree in the Nantahala National Forest.

We asked, and you responded! MountainTrue’s members submitted 334 public comments (36% of which were customized) and 24 letters to the editors of relevant local newspapers during the comment period for the US Forest Service’s Crossover Project. As currently proposed, the project would log more than 300 acres of old-growth forest, rare species habitat, and remote backcountry in the Snowbird Mountains of Nantahala National Forest.

The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership — a broad coalition of forest users representing recreation, conservation and timber interests of which MountainTrue is a member— has joined the fight and requested that the Forest Service remove these acres from the project. For its part, the Forest Service has indicated a willingness to collaborate with the partnership to develop a better alternative during the Environmental Assessment phase of the project. Thank you for speaking up for our forests!

We’re Hiring a Nonnative Invasive Plant Control Intern

MountainTrue seeks a dedicated individual to fill a part-time, 12-week paid internship for its western region in Fall 2021. The position includes a combination of on-the-ground stewardship of public and conserved lands, volunteer recruitment and coordination, and public outreach. It will require travel to various locations within a 60-mile radius of Murphy (including north Georgia) and substantial work outdoors. The application deadline is August 4, and the start date is August 30. Visit our website to learn more.

Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants Webinar Coming in August

Due to popular demand, MountainTrue Western Region Program Coordinator Tony Ward and Public Lands Director Bob Gale will host a webinar on how to eradicate non-native invasive plants (NNIP) on Tuesday, August 24 at noon. Tony and Bob will discuss the best tools to control common NNIP species and the best seasons for treatment. The webinar will include an in-depth discussion about herbicides, the active ingredients of commonly used products, and how to apply them correctly and with minimal impact on the environment. Register for the free webinar today!

Become A Georgia Green Landscape Steward

The Georgia Green Landscape Stewards certification program provides educational resources that teach landowners about increasing plant and animal biodiversity, conserving soil and water, providing wildlife and pollinator habitat, and improving public and environmental health. Participants can measure their activities with the program’s metric scorecard and earn certification status for their landscape. Along with the satisfaction of contributing to natural resource protection, Georgia Green Landscape certification includes an option for Georgians to purchase an attractive yard sign to designate their property as a sustainably managed landscape.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

July 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Headwaters Fun Float on the First Broad River
Join MountainTrue as we head up to the South Mountains for a fun paddle on the cool shady waters of the First Broad River! Read more.

August 24, 12-1 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants
Join us for an educational program about managing common nonnative invasive plants, including techniques for control, best seasons for treatment, and more. Read more.

August 29, 7 p.m.: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River
MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River. Read more.

What we’re up to: Fixing bad timber sales, bioblitzing, and competing to be the MountainTruest

What we’re up to: Fixing bad timber sales, bioblitzing, and competing to be the MountainTruest

June E-Vistas Newsletter

Who is the MountainTruest? Summer 2021 Engagement Competition

We’re kicking off a friendly competition this summer to recognize environmental champions across our region. You can participate by doing things like volunteering, responding to calls to action, and attending events — all ways you can help MountainTrue fulfill our mission! Click here to learn more.

Celebrate Black Emancipation this Juneteenth

This Saturday is Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery. To help celebrate the end of American slavery, MountainTrue staff offer up some of our favorite movies, books and podcasts that tackle the issues of race, empowerment and equity. Read our picks.

Protect Our Forests. Fix the Crossover Project

The US Forest Service is proposing a new timber sale called the Crossover Project, which would log 1,500 acres in the Snowbird Mountains in Nantahala National Forest. The proposal includes logging of backcountry and old-growth forests and would impact drinking water supply watersheds and rare species.

Act now to tell the Forest Service to protect 100 acres of ancient forests from logging, keep the Ash Cove Backcountry Area wild, and scale back road building in the steep slopes of the Snowbird Mountains. Read more and take action.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Michael Franti Returns to Play the French Broad Riverkeeper Concert

Michael Franti, the globally recognized musician, humanitarian, activist and award-winning filmmaker, returns to the Salvage Station on August 29 for a high-energy night of inspiring music in support of the work of MountainTrue’s French Broad Riverkeeper. Tickets are on pre-sale Thursday, June 17 at 10 a.m. with the purchase code FRANTILOVE. General ticket sales go live on Friday at 10 a.m..

Help Make Solar Available to More of Your Neighbors through Solarize!

As a core member of the Solarize Asheville-Buncombe coalition, MountainTrue is fundraising to make solar energy accessible to more people in our community. That’s why, in addition to the bulk purchasing discount that all Solarize participants receive, we’re crowdfunding to make solar grant funds go even further and help moderate and lower-income neighbors afford solar through our Neighbor-To-Neighbor program. In the process, we’re building community and moving Buncombe County closer to reaching our 100% renewable energy goal. Learn more about Solarize’s Neighbor-To-Neighbor solar funding program and donate here!

Become an Energy-Efficiency Volunteer and Help Weatherize 1000 Homes for Asheville Housing Authority!

Looking for a fun, hands-on volunteer opportunity to lower the energy cost burden of limited-income families AND fight climate change at the same time? Join Energy Savers Network as a volunteer for their Asheville Housing Authority Project. The goal is to retrofit 1,000 homes over the next year through simple tasks like changing light bulbs, caulking air leaks, and installing low-flow water fixtures. Read more at energysaversnetwork.org/1000-homes or sign up for a three-hour shift. Recurring volunteers and volunteer groups are welcome!

Stop The Bluffs. Come Out to the Hearing on June 24!

Volunteers have worked hard for six months to hold off The Bluffs. Now we need your help! Help fight a planned mega-development that would be built on 80 acres of intact forest directly next to Richmond Hill Park, increase traffic, and pollute the French Broad River.

Here’s How You Can Take Action:

  1. UPDATE: The Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments hearing of the Bluffs Issue that was scheduled for Thursday, June 24 meeting has been POSTPONED for 60 days. Once a new hearing is scheduled, we will send an email to let you know. 
    Attend the Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments meeting on Thursday, June 24 and wear green! It’s crucial that we have a large turnout of people that oppose the Bluffs at this meeting.

    What: Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments In-Person Meeting
    When: Thursday, June 24 at 6:30 pm
    Where: Woodfin Community Center
    20 Community Center
    Woodfin, NC 28804
  2. Donate to the Richmond Hill & River Rescue GoFundMe page. All financial contributions will help with the costs of hiring a stormwater engineer to analyze the full extent of the development’s potential impact to the French Broad River. To donate directly through MountainTrue, list your donation as restricted for Richmond Hill & River Rescue.

Learn more about The Bluffs proposal.

High Country Regional News

For Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Burke, Caldwell, Watauga and Wilkes counties

Litter Report From Boone’s First Trash Trout

This month, we installed Boone’s first Trash Trout on Winklers Creek! The trash trout is a device that collects litter while floating on the river, and in just six days after installing it, the device stopped 278 pieces of junk from flowing downstream into the New River. Our staff removed the litter from the trout and tallied the amount, types and brands of the trash collected. In this first sweep, our team found most items were styrofoam packaging from fast food restaurants, cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles. Unfortunately, styrofoam and plastic can break down and persist in the environment for hundreds of years — well beyond our human lifespan. We appreciate the collaboration with The Town of Boone and Asheville Greenworks to make this project possible. We are excited for the role the trash trout will continue to play in cleaning up our rivers.

Beech Mountain Concert Series

The Wood Brothers playing at Beech Mountain Resort. Photo by Micah Davidson

MountainTrue is proud to partner with Beech Mountain Ski Resort and to be a part of the resort’s Summer Concert Series. Get your tickets to enjoy some great music and support the critical work of MountainTrue. You can also swing by our tent, where we will have cool MountainTrue merchandise and cold water to beat the heat. We would love to meet and talk with our supporters in the High Country. Read more and get tickets. 

Show dates and times:
Umphrey’s McGee August 6th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Umphrey’s McGee August 7th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Tedeschi/Trucks August 14th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Greensky Bluegrass August 21st 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW

July 15 – Paddle with the Watauga Riverkeeper on Price Lake

Want to meet fellow environmental enthusiasts? Come paddle on Price Lake with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue’s Water Team staff. This event will be BYOB (bring your own boat!), but kayak and canoe rentals are available onsite at Price Lake. This is one of our most pristine Swim Guide sites, with gorgeous mountain views located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Learn more. 

July 10 – Snorkel the Watauga and See the Teeming Life Just Below the Surface

Just below the surface or our rivers, an entire freshwater community is teeming with life. Get up close to rainbow and brown trout, darters and other aquatic life on this snorkel. We will provide gear, and we’ll walk you through river snorkeling safety on this guided adventure. River swimming is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Join us. 

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Asphalt Plant Developer Recognizes Defeat, Withdraws Rezoning Application Again

Once again, the community of East Flat Rock came together to defeat an asphalt plant proposal that would harm community health, clean water and local public lands. Just hours before the June 1 Board of Commissioners meeting where the rezoning application was to be decided, the developer withdrew his application because he knew he didn’t have the votes. This marks the second time we’ve defeated this dangerous proposal. A huge thanks to the neighbors who came together to stand up, speak out and tell Henderson County leaders that an industrial plan has no place in East Flat Rock. Read the full blogpost about the victory.

2021 BioBlitz Tri-County Smackdown: Can Transylvania Come Back from Behind?

Our 2021 BioBlitz is in full swing. Every year, MountainTrue hosts a bioblitz to get experts, naturalists, and nature lovers outdoors to document every living organism we can find. This year, we are hosting a regional competition – a tri-county smackdown! – to determine the 2021 champion of biodiversity. Right now, Transylvania County is trailing Jackson and Watauga counties, but I believe in underdogs. The competition doesn’t end until Sunday, June 20, so show your county pride and let’s win this WNC regional bio-battle! Find out more here and register to participate and win.

Join us for the Broad River Headwaters Fun Float on Sunday, July 18

Our Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, is leading a fun paddle on the cool, shady waters of the First Broad River on Sunday, July 18! This beautiful section of river is located in the foothills of the South Mountains just a few miles west of Casar, NC. We will cover approximately five miles of river in four hours. Space is limited, so sign up.

Western Regional News

For Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties in NC, and Towns and Union counties in GA

Let’s Win the BioBlitz for the Western Region

Our Tri-County BioBlitz competition is in full swing, and you can still participate through Sunday, June 20th! Every year, MountainTrue hosts a bioblitz to get folks outdoors with a mission to document every living organism we can find. This year, we’ve made it a regional competition between Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties to determine the 2021 champion of biodiversity.

Show off your county pride and natural curiosity in this regional bio-battle! Register to participate and win prizes. You’ll receive instructions after you register, but be sure to “Join” MountainTrue’s Jackson County Project on iNaturalist – the biodiversity website (and app!) we’re using for the bioblitz – and your observations will automatically be included in the fun.

Jackson County is in the lead, and YOU can help ensure that we win!

Help Us Improve the Forest Service’s Crossover Project

The US Forest Service is currently soliciting input on a 1,500-acre timber sale proposal in the Snowbird Mountains of Cherokee and Graham counties. We need you to tell the Forest Service to improve the proposal by protecting 100 acres of ancient forests from logging, preventing impacts to designated Natural Heritage Areas, and keeping the Ash Cove Backcountry Area wild. The Forest Service can have a successful timber project while also protecting Natural Heritage Natural Areas and existing old-growth forests. Act now to help us improve the Crossover Project!

Walking Tour of Bryson City Set for August 20th

Please join me and MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities Director, Chris Joyell, on a walking tour of downtown Bryson City. Along the way, we’ll reflect on past plans for revitalizing Main and Everett Streets, see where progress has been made, and explore how future efforts can contribute to the vitality of this historic town. We’ll also visit some ongoing projects that are making Bryson City more livable and enjoyable for residents and visitors. Register today!

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

June 5-19: 2021 BioBlitz: Tri-County Smackdown
Get out into the woods to document the natural environment in Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties and help crown the regional champion of biodiversity. Read more.

June 15, 9-11 a.m.: Restore Native Habitats in Hendersonville
Help combat non-native invasive plants and restore native habitats along the Oklawaha Greenway. Read more.

June 23, 12-1 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Fighting Climate Change Through Community-Powered Solar
Join MountainTrue’s Organizer & Communications Manager, Eliza Stokes, to learn about how solar energy purchasing programs in Buncombe County are helping us meet our renewable energy goals. Read more.

July 10, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Snorkel the Watauga River
Join MountainTrue’s High Country Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, and explore the unique ecosystems of the Watauga River. Read more.

July 11, 4-5:30 pm: Summer Fun Float on Lake Junaluska
Join Western Regional Director Callie Moore for a leisurely, family-friendly float on Lake Junaluska. Organized in partnership with Haywood Waterways Association. Read more.

July 14, 12-1:00 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Climate Change and the Built Environment
Join Chris Joyell, Director of the Asheville Design Center and MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities Program, as we explore how climate change will impact our decisions around affordable housing, transportation and racial equity. Read more.

July 18, 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: First Broad River Headwaters Fun Float
Join MountainTrue as we head up to the South Mountains for a fun paddle on the cool, shady waters of the First Broad River! Read more.

August 20, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Bryson City Downtown Walking Tour
Join Western Regional Director Callie Moore and Healthy Communities Director Chris Joyell for a walking tour and discussion on past, present and future plans for revitalizing downtown and making Bryson City more livable. Read more.

August 21, 10:00 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Fontana Lake Historic Paddle
Explore the Hazel Creek arm of Fontana Lake and the remnants of Proctor, NC – a town that was evacuated and flooded when the lake was created in 1944. Read more.

August 28 – September 6: Second Annual Broad River Fishing Tournament
No cash, no prizes. What’s on the line is the title of “Broad River’s Best Angler.” Read our tournament rules and sign up.

September 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Asheville Urban Bike Tour
Learn about Asheville’s urban core, how redlining has shaped our city and what the future could hold for Asheville with Chris Joyell. Read more.

September 18, 7-11:30 p.m.: Broad River Moonlight Float
Come paddle the Broad River by the light of the moon. Read more.

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Image credit: The late Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Disney

This Saturday is Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery. The story of Juneteenth goes back to when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom on June 19, 1895 — two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two and a half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.

Since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, MountainTrue will be observing the day on Friday, and our offices will be closed for a long weekend. To help celebrate the end of American slavery, MountainTrue staff offer up some of our favorite movies, books and podcasts that tackle the issues of race, empowerment and equity.

Susan Bean, our Director of Engagement, recommends the 2016 documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” by Raoul Peck. The film is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House and explores the history of racism in the United States.

For a fist-pumping blockbuster that still offers a lot to think about, Susan also recommends “Black Panther.” The Marvel superhero flick features an almost entirely Black cast, grapples with challenging issues facing people of African descent, both in America and in Africa, and is highly entertaining. Western Regional Director Callie Moore chimed into our email thread to second this recommendation.

Susan also suggests “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a 2014 article in The Atlantic magazine that lays out a thoughtful and compelling case for why America needs to reckon with the question of what we owe to the descendants of enslaved people in this country.

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator Grace Fuchs recommends the book Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz. This accessible nonfiction work dives into the often-overlooked history of mixed Blacks and Natives and brings to light the challenges of blood quantum laws, marriage laws and slavery. Parts of the book focus on South Eastern Tribes, so it’s locally relevant too.

Forest Keeper Coordinator Tamia Dame recommends the Netflix film 13th, a thought-provoking documentary that analyzes the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S prison boom; Judas and the Black Messiah, the Oscar-winning biopic of Black Panther Fred Hampton; and the podcasts Code Switch and Louder Than A Riot on NPR and Resistance by Gimlet media. Tamia extolls, “The three podcasts are phenomenal, but Louder Than a Riot might be my favorite. For both Resistance and Louder, I’d recommend listening to them in their entireties.”

Communications Director Karim Olaechea recommends the four-part HBO series “Exterminate All the Brutes,” in which filmmaker and activist Raoul Peck mixes documentary, personal stories, and historical reenactment to tell the history of white supremacy, slavery, and colonialism. Karim also recommends “King In The Wilderness,” a documentary by Peter W. Kunhardt that explores how Martin Luther King Jr. followed his heart and put his life on the line to expand the fight for civil rights into a Poor People’s Campaign against racism, war, and poverty.

Finally, Healthy Communities Director Chris Joyell chimes in with a simple but very appropriate recommendation: “I realized that I have never read the actual text of the Emancipation Proclamation. I find it really interesting that Lincoln framed it as a wartime measure necessary to suppress the rebellion. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought the proclamation was the catalyst for the Civil War, and the attack on Ft. Sumter was a response to that proclamation. Instead, Lincoln delivers this almost two years into the war.”

We hope this list offers plenty of inspiration for your Juneteenth weekend. Have yourself a happy Emancipation Day!

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Volunteers have worked hard for six months to hold off The Bluffs. Now we need your help!

Help fight a planned mega-development that would be built on 80 acres of intact forest directly next to Richmond Hill Park, increase traffic, and pollute the French Broad River.

Here’s How You Can Take Action:

UPDATE: The Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments hearing of the Bluffs Issue that was scheduled for Thursday, June 24 meeting has been POSTPONED for 60 days. Once a new hearing is scheduled, we will send an email to let you know. 
1. Attend the Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments meeting on Thursday, June 24 and wear green! It’s important that we have a large turnout of people that oppose the Bluffs at this meeting.

What: Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments In-Person Meeting
When: Thursday, June 24 at 6:30 pm
Where: Woodfin Community Center
20 Community Center
Woodfin, NC 28804

2. Donate to the Richmond Hill & River Rescue GoFundMe page. All financial contributions will help with the costs of hiring a stormwater engineer to analyze the full extent of the development’s potential impact to the French Broad River. To donate directly through MountainTrue, list your donation as restricted for Richmond Hill & River Rescue.

What else should you know?

The proposal: Strategic Real Investment Partners LLC, a Tampa, Florida-based developer has submitted plans to construct 1,545 luxury residential condo units in Woodfin adjacent to Richmond Hill Park and on the banks of the French Broad River.

The proposed development would be built on extremely steep slopes, and the developer has not agreed to the higher level of stormwater management at this site that we know is necessary to protect the health of the river.

MountainTrue opposes this project in its current form because of the potential impacts to places we all share like the French Broad River, Richmond Hill Park and roads unsuited for the additional increased traffic.

  • A massive luxury housing project like this will only make our region even less affordable. Studies show that building new luxury housing pushes up rents in surrounding neighborhoods and increases burdens on lower-income households.
  • Traffic will increase dramatically, affecting safety and planned multimodal improvements. The developer’s own traffic engineers estimate this development will generate well over 10,000 trips a day. These cars would use narrow, winding residential streets and Riverside Drive unless a proposed new bridge over the French Broad River is built.
  • The project could endanger rare salamander species. Neighboring Richmond Hill Park is home to two species designated by North Carolina as of “Special Concern” — the Mole Salamander and the Southern Zigzag Salamander. This property contains similar habitat so these salamanders could be present there as well.  We are unaware of any studies or wildlife inventories done in the project area.
  • The development will pollute the French Broad River. Removing trees and ground cover, grading steep slopes, and paving roads and parking lots will lead to polluted stormwater runoff into the French Broad River.  
  • Increased storm water runoff would endanger river recreation and public health. The project would be just upstream from a proposed $18 million whitewater wave and recreation park — a significant public investment.

Send in your comments to ask the Woodfin Town Commission to ensure the following:

  1. For this project to move forward in a responsible manner, approval and permits for the construction of a new bridge over the French Broad River must be in hand before the developer breaks ground to reduce neighborhood traffic safety concerns and potential environmental impacts.
  2. The Developer agrees to additional stormwater measures that will protect water quality in the French Broad River.
  3. The Developer agrees to a forested buffer between the new development and the Richmond Hill Neighborhood.
  4. Woodfin’s development ordinances should be updated to ensure that future projects reflect the type of growth that residents want, not just what is easiest and most profitable for developers.

Commission members are: Adrienne Isenhower, planning director; Michael Saunders, planning staff; Mayor Jerry Vehaun; Woodfin Commissioners Debbie Glazentanner, Jackie J. Bryson, Donald Honeycutt, Donald Hensley, Ronnie Lunsford, and Jim Angel. Letters for public comment should be sent to clerk@woodfin-nc.gov. Public comment can also be made by calling 828-253-4887.

Protect Old-Growth, Wildlife & Our Natural Heritage in Nantahala National Forest

Protect Old-Growth, Wildlife & Our Natural Heritage in Nantahala National Forest

Protect Old-Growth, Wildlife & Our Natural Heritage in Nantahala National Forest

The US Forest Service is proposing a 1,500-acre timber sale in the Snowbird Mountains in Nantahala National Forest that would log documented old-growth stands, steep headwaters of pristine streams, and areas recognized by the state of North Carolina for their outstanding biodiversity and healthy forests.

Act now and tell the forest service to fix their proposal and protect our natural heritage.

This is the latest in a series of bad faith projects on the Nantahala National Forest that propose road building and timber harvest in some of the wildest and healthiest forests in our region. The Crossover Project would prejudice the new Forest Plan against the protection of old-growth forests, rare species, and backcountry areas and put water supply watersheds at risk. This is not what we consider a “collaborative” project that furthers ecological restoration for Nantahala National Forest.

Josh Kelly, MountainTrue’s field biologist explains: “The Forest Service worked with a broad group of stakeholders, throughout the forest management plan process. With one hand, they assure us that they take collaboration and our input seriously, then with the other hand they draw up these plans that plainly contradict the recommendations of hunters, hikers, anglers, equestrians, timber companies and other forest users. This is an old-school timber sale that targets the most sensitive and controversial areas for logging. If this project represents Nantahala National Forest’s priorities for the next 20 years, everyone should be very concerned, not just because of the damage it would do to the land, but because of the lack of relevancy, it would ensure for the agency. ”

The Crossover Timber Project would log 158 acres of the Ash Cove Backcountry Area which was proposed for Backcountry Management in Alternative C in the new forest plan and endorsed by the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership. Commercial logging and building logging roads are incompatible with the Backcountry Management Area. The proposal for Crossover, following on the heels of a similar decision in the Buck Project, shows that Nantahala National Forest is biased against Backcountry Management.

The Crossover Timber Project would log 51 acres of Natural Heritage Areas. Within the project area, the slopes of Teyahalee Bald have been identified by the State of North Carolina as Natural Heritage Natural Areas for their outstanding biodiversity. These areas are home to some of the healthiest forests in North Carolina that include rare species like Mountain Catch Fly that would be harmed by commercial logging.

The Crossover Timber Project would log at least 98 acres of existing old-growth forests. The Forest Service’s own records show that all of these forests are over 130 years old, and fieldwork conducted by MountainTrue has documented trees over 200 years of age in these areas. MountainTrue alerted the Forest Service to the location and presence of these rare old-growth sites and they are still being targeted by this timber sale.

The Crossover Timber Project proposal would log more than 400 acres at the source of Robbinsville’s drinking water supply. Seventeen stands slated for analysis of commercial and non-commercial timber harvest treatments lie in the Long and Rock Creek watersheds. These streams flowing off the ridge of the Snowbird Mountains are all classified as High-Quality Waters and feed public drinking water supplies for the Town of Robbinsville.

The Crossover Timber Project would permanently decommission the western half of the Snowbird Mountain Trail. Recreation groups within the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership had asked that the trail be improved, not decommissioned within their recommendations for the forthcoming forest management plan.

If the Forest Service truly believes in collaboration, the solution is easy: Follow the recommendation of the partners you’ve been working with for the past 8+ years. The Forest Service can have a successful timber project while protecting Natural Heritage Natural Areas and existing old growth, and keeping Snowbird trail open.

Action Expired

1. Email the Forest Service

The Forest Service is now soliciting input on the design of its Crossover Timber Project!

2. Send a Letter to the Editor

Send a letter to the editor of the Smoky Mountain News to raise public awareness.

3. Support Our Timber Monitoring Program

MountainTrue monitors and analyzes every project in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests to support vulnerable species, safeguard old-growth forests, and make sure you have wonderful outdoor spaces for biking, hiking, hunting, fishing and foraging.