News About MountainTrue’s Work In the Coming Weeks — And Our COVID-19 Activity Guide

News About MountainTrue’s Work In the Coming Weeks — And Our COVID-19 Activity Guide

News About MountainTrue’s Work In the Coming Weeks — And Our COVID-19 Activity Guide

As our mountain communities brace for the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, MountainTrue is doing our part to help reduce the spread of the virus, and mitigate the health risks to our communities and our staff.

As of Monday, March 16, our four offices in Asheville, Boone, Hendersonville and Murphy are closed to the public. Our staff will still be working hard to protect the places we share, but many of us will be doing so from home or out in the field where we’ll be following recommended protocols.

Following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and public health officials, we are also canceling all of our public events, hikes and training sessions for this spring, and our volunteer-based water monitoring programs, river cleanups and public lands workdays will be on hiatus until further notice.

This Isn’t A Goodbye, It’s New Way of Saying ‘Hello Neighbor’

Together, there’s still so much that we can do to advocate for our environment and our communities, and to break through the isolation of “social distancing.” Though we’ll miss interacting with our members, volunteers and supporters face-to-face, we’re excited to be able to provide you with easy options to take action and new ways of engaging with us and each other.

Seven Things You Can Do Right Now

Sign the petition for I Love Rivers – Our Broad, French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeepers and our Western Water Team have developed a comprehensive plan for cleaning up our rivers by tackling faulty sewer and septic system infrastructure, helping agricultural landowners prevent bacterial pollution, and reducing litter from single-use plastics. Show your support! iloverivers.org

Plant a native garden – Help protect our forests, public lands and local wildlife by planting a sustainable garden. Our invasive plants team has put together a great resource for gardeners and landscapers that offers beautiful native plant alternatives to our region’s most damaging non-native invasive plant species. mountaintrue.org/plantguide

Go on a hike and keep yourself healthy and calm – Getting out in nature is good for the body and soul. While we’re sad to have had to cancel our annual spring hikes and outings, MountainTrue’s Public Lands and Engagement teams are excited to be working on a list of self-guided hikes. More to come soon!

Complete the 2020 Census online – The Census comes around every 10 years and this year’s couldn’t have come at a more challenging time. Make sure you are counted because the census helps determine the number of seats that are allocated in the U.S. House of Representatives, how federal monies are distributed to state and local governments, and how local, state and congressional district boundaries are drawn. 2020census.gov

Support our local businesses – As the CDC issues stricter guidelines, local restaurants and businesses are suffering. Consider buying gift cards from your favorite businesses that you can use once isolation is over. And instead of crowding into local bars and restaurants, consider ordering for delivery or pickup. For Asheville, check out #AshevilleStrong for a directory of businesses where you can buy gift cards. In other towns, contact the businesses directly.

Attend worship services online – Maintaining your connections to your community is important and for many of us that means attending church or worship services. Our Creation Care Alliance program has a running list of local churches providing services online.

Talk to us on social media – It’s going to get pretty lonely, so let’s connect on Facebook and Instagram. MountainTrue and our Riverkeepers all have Facebook and Instagram accounts, and we want to engage with our members to establish a deeper dialogue about the work we do, the priorities of our organization and the needs of our region.

MountainTrue
on Facebook
MountainTrue
on Instagram
Broad Riverkeeper
on Facebook
Broad Riverkeeper
on Instagram
French Broad
Riverkeeper
on Facebook
French Broad
Riverkeeper
on Instagram
Green Riverkeeper
on Facebook
Green Riverkeeper
on Instagram
Watauga Riverkeeper
on Facebook
Watauga Riverkeeper
on Instagram
MountainTrue West
(Western Region)
on Facebook
Creation Care Alliance
on Facebook
  Creation Care Alliance
on Instagram
 

 

In the coming weeks and days, we’ll be rolling out more things for you to do during the pandemic, more community resources and some ideas for mutual aid. But we also want to hear from you! Please feel free to respond to this email with your ideas, struggles and stories of perseverance. Let us know how you are keeping your spirits up, finding community in the age of COVID-19, and helping your neighbors during this trying time.

In the coming months, COVID-19 is going to test our health care system, our economy and our society. That’s why it is so important that communities around the country and here in our region find ways to help each other even when we can’t hug each other. During more normal times, it’s easy to treat our neighbors as strangers. Easier to avert our eyes than to initiate an awkward hello. Now, we all feel that imperative to connect and help each other even if we don’t really know each other, yet. Let’s tap into that need for connection to strengthen our communities and build new ones.

Let’s be good neighbors.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

As many of you have heard through news reports or from our last e-news, the draft management plan and environmental impact statement for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests were released on Friday, February 14. Our forest team is reviewing the more than 2,000 pages contained in those documents and will soon be offering our members and supporters thorough analysis to assist you in providing meaningful public comments to the forest service.

We are also scheduling a series of Forest Management Plan presentations and comment-writing parties throughout our region where our staff will present our analysis, answer your questions and help you write your comments, if desired. Below is our first round of events.

More public comment events hosted by MountainTrue are being planned and we will update you when dates and locations are confirmed for events in Mills River, Sylva, Morganton, Asheville and Bryson City.

As we schedule additional events, we’ll also be adding them to our Forest Plan Calendar.

The Nantahala and Pisgah belong to all of us, and this is the process whereby we, the public, ensure that the Forest Service manages and maintains them according to our values. The management plan determines which areas are protected, which areas will be scheduled for timber projects or managed for restoration, and how projects, like trail building and maintenance, are prioritized.

This forest management plan has been in development since 2013, and this is the public’s last significant opportunity to have our say. The public comment period lasts 90 days (until May 14), and you can submit as many public comments as you like. So, even if you’ve already submitted a comment, you can attend our parties to learn more and add your additional concerns to the public record.


MountainTrue’s Josh Kelly participated in Carolina Public Press’s NewsMakers Forum on the Future of Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest. Watch it here.

Our first impressions of the Forest Plan is that the Forest Service has made a good faith effort to include the values of all constituencies, but that there’s still a lot of room for improvement. All the action alternatives have some elements that we like, and some we don’t.

Some specific areas of concern that we’ve already identified:

  • The draft plan does not include any certain protections for existing old-growth forests. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement documents that all forest ecosystems are deficient in old-growth, very young forest, and open canopy forest compared to the best models of the natural variation in these systems. Unsustainable logging 100-140 years ago, fire suppression, and other factors have gotten us where we are today. Cutting existing old-growth will only make the matter worse, and the Forest Plan should require that old-growth be protected from regeneration harvest — the process by which older forests are cut to make younger forests.
  • The draft plan does not specify if or how old-growth forests will be tracked, making monitoring of the goal of increasing the amount of old-growth on the ground unachievable.
  • The draft plan does not include specific directions to protect many Natural Heritage Natural Areas that contain the best examples of rare species and natural communities in North Carolina. In all forest plan alternatives, between 34,000 and 68,000 acres of NHNAs are included in management areas with scheduled timber harvest. The Forest Plan should preclude regeneration harvest if a site-specific review finds them to be in a condition consistent with their identification as natural areas by the state.
  • The draft plan proposes a 15 ft. buffer on intermittent streams – streams that dry up during a drought. We believe that the intent is to protect those streams, but the plan should require a 50 ft. buffer of protection from heavy equipment such as bulldozers and skidders a default.
  • The current forest plan stipulates that any timber harvest on slopes over 40% must be accomplished with an aerial cable, where at least one end of the log is lifted off the ground, or other aerial logging method to protect soils and reduce the risk or erosion or landslides. The draft plan does away with that requirement and leaves the decision, increasing opportunities for human error. The new plan should also require that all harvest methods on steep slopes should protect the soil as effectively as aerial cable harvest.
  • Alternative C is the only alternative that would manage Big Ivy consistent with the Buncombe County resolution calling on the Forest Service to protect the area.

Moving forward, we continue to contribute as a member of the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership to come up with a collaborative, win-win proposal that takes the best aspects of each alternative provided by the Forest Service, and fixes any of the plan’s deficiencies in protecting water quality, old-growth forests, and natural areas.

To keep up with the latest Forest-related news and action alerts and to receive updates as we add forest plan events to our calendar, sign up here.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

​MountainTrue takes pride in being at the forefront of conservation techniques in many areas. Last summer, Public Lands Director Bob Gale decided to work on finding new ways to tackle two of our worst invasives: Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) and Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica).

For the invasive stiltgrass, we are typically stuck hand-pulling it in mid-summer.  This can be a rewarding activity to do with a large volunteer group, but takes a lot of people-hours to accomplish.  However, Bob Gale noticed that in some infested areas, there were pockets of ferns that weren’t being pushed around by the stiltgrass.  Bob decided to work with interns and our Forest Keeper Coordinator, Rhys Burns, to test their ability to fight back. They picked out areas at a local wetland ranging from highly invaded to unimpacted, laid out 4×4-foot plots, and transplanted 48 ferns into these areas.  The ferns continued to establish through the fall, and we will return this spring to see how they fared. Wouldn’t it be nice to fight plants with plants!

Japanese Knotweed is widely considered one of the worst invasives we have.  If broken up, it can resprout from tiny pieces or float down the rivers where it likes to live until it finds a new home.  It is also resistant to many common herbicides, including the low-impact chemicals we like to use in sensitive areas. However, a new herbicide was developed that may kill this unstoppable plant.  In collaboration with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy, we were able to purchase some of this expensive chemical, and put it to the test. Although it will take several years to determine if it truly works, the initial results are hopeful!  In a study conducted over 3 treatments last summer, we were able to kill the knotweed using some methods of application, and rule out others.

With both of these experiments, we will continue to monitor and treat these plots, and work with partners to share the data we collect. Here’s to hoping!


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

February Vistas E-Newsletter: Draft Forest Plan Released, Take Action on Spill Notifications + More

February Vistas E-Newsletter: Draft Forest Plan Released, Take Action on Spill Notifications + More

February Vistas E-Newsletter: Draft Forest Plan Released, Take Action on Spill Notifications + More

Get this in your inbox. Sign up for email newsletter.

Draft Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Management Plan Released

The draft forest management plan has been released and the 90-day public comment period began on February 14. Our Public Lands Team is reviewing the draft plan and all the alternatives and we will be sharing our analysis with our members and supporters soon so that everyone can make effective public comments to ensure the best plan possible.

“Our first impression is that the Forest Service made a good faith effort to include the values of all constituencies in the plan. All the action alternatives have some elements we like and some that we don’t,” explains Josh Kelly. “Our hope is that the final plan will include the best ideas from all alternatives, while fixing any deficiencies in protecting water quality, old-growth forests, and natural areas. We will need lots of public participation and collaboration to make that happen.”

Make sure you get the latest updates by subscribing to our newsletter, action alerts and forest issue emails. Make sure you also check the box next to “Forests & Public Lands”

 

MountainTrue’s Josh Kelly To Appear On Newsmakers Forum About Future Of Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly will join Michelle Aldridge of the Forest Service, Lang Hornthal of EcoForesters, Dr. Jonathan Horton of UNC Asheville, and Andrea Leslie of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for a Newsmakers Forum panel discussion at the Reuter Center at UNC Asheville on Wednesday February 19th from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. The event is hosted by Carolina Public Press and WLOS News 13, and will focus on the recently released draft Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest management plan. Register Here.

 

Public Lands Team Experiments On Invasive Species

Last summer, MountainTrue’s Ecologist & Public Lands Director, Bob Gale, decided to experiment with new ways to tackle two of our worst invasives: Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) and Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica). He discovered that large patches of three fern species seemed to be holding stiltgrass at bay. So he transplanted rhizomes into test plots adjacent to and in the middle of stiltgrass-invaded areas to see if they exclude the stiltgrass. Bob is also testing a brand new chemical for Japanese Knotweed treatment. Preliminary results for the knotweed experiment are encouraging, and our stiltgrass experiment will be continuing this summer!

 

Call On NCDEQ: Update Your Spill Notification System to Keep People And Waterways Safe

French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson was on WLOS on Feb. 8 to discuss the 31+ sewage overflows in WNC that have occurred due to heavy rains in recent weeks. “I wouldn’t have known of any of these unless I had inquired at the state level,” he said, “which your average citizen is not gonna do.”

NC’s notification system for pollution spills hasn’t caught up to modern times – the only public notice required for polluting our waterways is an outdated law that calls for polluters to send a press release and post an ad in a newspaper. The public has the right to know about major pollution spills that impact our waterways as soon as possible, and through the technology the public uses today.

Sign the petition here to call on NCDEQ to update NC’s spill notification system to keep people and waterways safe.

 

Look Up Your North Carolina Early Voting Location. Election Day Is March 3

Primary Election Day in North Carolina is on March 3, but one-stop early voting has started in most North Carolina Counties. Any registered voter can cast an absentee ballot in person on select days prior to Election Day. Unlike on Election Day, when registered voters can only vote at their specific precinct, one-stop voting allows registered voters to vote at any one-stop absentee voting site in the county. Learn more and find your one-stop voting sites in your county.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Asheville Hearing On Duke Rate Hike Proposal Feb. 20

This Thursday, Feb. 20, the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold its Asheville hearing on the latest proposal by Duke Energy to increase electricity rates. Duke Energy Progress is requesting an average 14.3% increase in residential electric bills to pay for new fossil fuel investments, coal ash mismanagement, and capital investments at coal plants. The increase would mean approximately $17.29 more per month for residential Duke customers.

Join MountainTrue members in Asheville on February 20 to tell the NC Utilities Commission: Enough is enough. No rate hikes for more dirty energy.
The hearing in Asheville will be held in Courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse in at 60 Court Plaza at 7pm. Those who wish to speak should arrive by 6:30pm to sign up.

 

Have Your Say On The I-26 Connector Environmental Impact Statement

In January, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) issued their Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the I-26 Connector Project. This concludes the agency’s environmental review of the project, bringing Asheville’s highway project one step closer to reality. NCDOT’s deadline to receive written public comments is April 3, 2020. MountainTrue will share talking points soon. For more information, visit NCDOT’s I-26 Project Page.

 

City Of Asheville Committee Vacancies

Do you want to have a voice in the City’s growth and future? Do you want to be a part of the body that is responsible for making decisions regarding policy, service and education? There are current openings for advisory board members on the City of Asheville Citizens-Police Advisory, Greenways, Multimodal Transportation and Transit committees. Deadline to apply is March 2. Read more and apply.

 

‘Guardians Of Our Troubled Waters’ Film Showing At New Belgium Brewing

Come out to New Belgium Brewing on Tuesday, February 25 to see the Center for Cultural Preservation’s latest film “Guardians of Our Troubled Waters” highlighting river heroes of the South standing up to protect their waterways! Music with folksinger Carol Duermit begins at 7:00 PM, and the film begins at 7:30. Featured heroes include Wilma Dykeman, the savior of the French Broad River, the Dead Pigeon River Council who fought against Champion Paper’s destruction of the Pigeon River, and many local WNC organizations including MountainTrue. Read more and get tickets.

High Country Regional News

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

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

Beech Mountain’s Town Council has announced that they will hold a workshop session on the Watauga Water Intake Project on February 25. The proposal would take 2 million gallons of water a day from the Watauga River during times of drought – even though Beech Mountain’s pipes are leaking 47% of water annually. If approved, the proposal would reclassify the Watauga River, opening it up to any number of water withdrawals and future development.

When the Town of Beech Mountain last tried this in 2013, Watauga County residents and Commissioners were united in rejecting the water grab to protect trout and the businesses that depend on them, our natural heritage and the future of the Watauga River. Help us build our collective voice in opposing the water intake. Read more and take action.

 

MountainTrue Is Hiring A High Country Water Quality Administrator

We are excited to share that we are now hiring for a High Country Water Quality Administrator Americorps Member who will work in our Boone office starting as early as March 1st. This position will be a member serving through the Americorps Project Conserve program. The term of service will consist of 900 hours between March 16 and August 31, with the possibility of extending the service term through July 31 of 2021. The member is in charge of communications with the Water Quality Team, administers resources for all water quality-focused programs, and connects with the broader community to solve water quality challenges. Read more and apply.

 

Hidden Rivers Of Southern Appalachia Film Coming To Banner Elk

MountainTrue and the Watauga Riverkeeper are proud to bring the film Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia to Lees McRae College in Banner Elk on March 27th, from 7:00-8:30 PM. Hidden Rivers is a 1-hour film that explores the rivers and streams of the Southern Appalachian region, North America’s most biologically rich waters. The film follows the work of conservation biologists and explorers throughout the region – revealing both the beauty and vulnerability of this aquatic life – and how many people are finding ways to protect these ecosystems. Read more and get tickets.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Green Drinks Finds A New Home At Appalachian Coffee Company

Hendersonville Green Drinks, hosted by MountainTrue and Conserving Carolina, has a new home at Appalachian Coffee Company (1628 5th Ave W, Laurel Park, NC 28739)! After years of hosting the monthly speaker series at Black Bear Coffee in Hendersonville, a change of venue was needed in order to accommodate its growing number of event attendees. We are excited about the possibilities that the new space will offer, but we will always appreciate the hospitality Black Bear has provided over the years. Our first event at Appalachian Coffee Company was held on January 9 with featured speaker Bill Jacobs, author of the recently published book “Whence these special places?”, an exploration of the geologic processes that produced WNC’s array of mountains and waterfalls. Jacobs presented to an overflowing crowd and discussed how some of our most iconic natural places were formed, including Panthertown Valley, Looking Glass Rock and Falls, Shining Rock, Devil’s Courthouse, and Triple, Rainbow and Whitewater Falls. The packed house in the larger venue was a surprise to us, but speaks to the region wide interest in environmental issues. We appreciate everyone bearing with us during the transition, and we’re working hard with the good folks at Appalachian Coffee Co. to make sure this event continues as smoothly as possible. Join us on the second Thursday of each month when we gather at 5:30 PM to mix and mingle, and then begin our presentation on a different topic of interest every time at 6:00 PM. Hope to see you there!

Western Regional News

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

Listening Session Held For Western Region Partners

On January 31, MountainTrue’s western regional office staff hosted a gathering of partner organizations from across the 9-county coverage area. A total of 15 organizations participated, including recreation, watershed, land conservation, and economic/community development groups. We all learned a lot about what our partners are working on and more importantly how we can support their efforts and fill gaps in the work. Working with others, we can get a lot more accomplished toward our mission of clean waters, resilient forests and healthy communities throughout WNC and the Hiwassee watershed in north Georgia.

Watershed Gala Reservations Due Feb 20


Photo caption: Brenda Hull (right), pictured with Ruth Looper at the 2019 Watershed Gala, has been chosen to receive the 2020 Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award.

The deadline for making reservations for the Watershed Gala is coming up on February 20th! We hope you will join us in honoring long-time Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition volunteer and former board member Brenda Hull! Affectionately known as “BK” to many, the contributions Brenda has made toward clean water and environmental sustainability in the Hiwassee River watershed run the gamut of creativity and reflect both her personal and professional life. From bringing conservation biology classes out to work on stream restoration projects to preparing scrumptious hors d’oeuvres for a fundraiser to hosting a birding outing and more, Brenda has for decades been one of the environment’s most ardent supporters. There are still several tickets left for the celebration. Get tickets.

Spring Break Is Just Around The Corner – For College Students, That Is


Photo caption: Nancy Troxler serves lunch for a group of alternative break participants in 2016.

We had such a big response for lunch volunteers for our winter alternative break week in December that some people had to wait until spring! As a result, we’ve already got lunches covered for one of our spring break weeks (Grand Valley State Univ.). However, we’ve still got dates left during the weeks of March 16 & 23 for two new schools: Keene State College in New Hampshire and St. Thomas University in Minnesota. If you are able to fix or purchase lunch for 8-12 college students, we’d love for you to participate. These students spend the week working along streams and rivers to remove nonnative invasive plants and plant native trees and shrubs. The results are healthier riparian buffers along our waterways! If getting your hands dirty is more your style, volunteers are also welcome to come out to sites and work alongside the students. Let us know and we’ll send you the schedule. To volunteer, email Tony (tony@mountaintrue.org).

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Feb. 20: Asheville Hearing On Duke Rate Hike Proposal
The NC Utilities Commission is holding a hearing on the latest proposal to increase electricity rates. Duke Energy Progress is requesting an average 14.3% increase in residential electric bills to pay for new fossil fuel investments, coal ash mismanagement, and capital investments.

Feb 21: Paddle-N-Plant Workday On The French Broad
Come hop in a boat and help us reduce erosion along the French Broad River by planting tree-cuttings that grow into groundcover.

Feb. 25: Guardians Of Our Troubled Waters At New Belgium Brewing
This documentary film tells the story of three communities in WNC, east Tennessee and south Florida and the heroes who rose to unite these communities to stand up for their rivers.

Feb. 25: Coal Ash Closure Hearing And Afterparty In Forest City
The NC Department of Environmental Quality has ordered Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash at the Cliffside Plant and six other sites across the state. Join us for the last public hearing on the Cliffside plant followed by a celebration.

Feb. 27: 52 Weeks 52 Trees Art Exhibit In Flat Rock
Join us for the opening reception of an exhibition of paintings by artist Dale McEntire that are inspired by a love of the trees that surround us. Ten percent of proceeds from sales of paintings from the exhibition will be donated to MountainTrue.

Feb. 27: 12th Annual Watershed Gala In Young Harris
Join us at the 12th Annual Watershed Gala and Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award presentation for a delightful evening of food, laughter and fun, and to honor this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner, Brenda Hull!

Mar. 5: Building Our City Speakers Series With Patrick Bowen In Asheville
Patrick Bowen will discuss the challenges our community faces as we seek solutions to our region’s affordable housing crisis.

Mar. 7: Spring SMIE Macroinvertebrate Training In Flat Rock
Become a citizen scientist and take part in our SMIE (Stream Monitoring Information Exchange) water quality monitoring program. Teams head out twice a year to creeks throughout Henderson and Polk counties to collect and identify aquatic insects — strong indicators of water quality.

Mar. 13 & 20: Paddle-N-Plant Workdays In Valle Crucis
Come hop in a boat and help us reduce erosion along our local rivers by planting tree-cuttings that grow into groundcover.
Mar. 13 workday
Mar. 20 workday

Mar. 14: Annual Bird Watch At Lake Chatuge
Join MountainTrue and retired Young Harris College professor and former board member, Brenda Hull, to learn about and observe the birds of Lake Chatuge.

Mar. 17: Muddy Water Watch Training In Columbus
Learn how to identify sources of sediment runoff, best management practices and how to use our Muddy Water Watch mobile app to document and report sediment pollution.

Mar. 21: Signs Of Spring Hike Into The Green River Gorge
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a moderate 6.8 mile out-and-back hike into the Green River Gorge. Guided by expert ecologist Bob Gale, we will search out the season’s first ephemeral wildflowers such as trillium, bloodroot and toothwort. This event is sold out; email Catie Morris at outings@mountaintrue.org to join the waitlist.

Mar. 21: Hiwassee Volunteer Monitoring Team Training In Young Harris, GA
Get certified by the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program and become a member of our Hiwassee Volunteer Monitoring Team — a great hands-on way to support clean water.

Mar. 27: Hidden Rivers Of Southern Appalachia Film Screening In Banner Elk
This 1-hour film explores the rivers and streams of the Southern Appalachian region, North America’s most biologically rich waters and follows the work of conservation biologists and explorers.

Mar. 28: First Annual North Fork Fest In Rosman
Join Headwaters Outfitters and the Whitewater Community for the First Annual North Fork Fest! A celebration of history and heritage of the North Fork of the French Broad River.

CHECK OUT THE FULL EVENTS CALENDAR


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

January Vistas E-News

January Vistas E-News

January Vistas E-News

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

On January 2, MountainTrue, community partners and our legal counsel the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced a historic settlement with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The agreement mandates that 80 million tons of coal ash will be excavated from six Duke Energy coal ash sites: Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. Prior settlements and court orders require cleanups and excavation of coal ash at the eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina for the excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash. This agreement now puts in place a comprehensive cleanup plan for all coal ash lagoons at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina under which 126 million tons of ash have been or will be excavated across the state, resulting in the largest coal ash cleanup in America to date. Read more.

Tell the NC Utilities Commission: Enough is Enough. No More Rate Hikes For Dirty Energy

Residents speak out against Duke Energy’s latest rate hike proposal at the NC Utility Commission’s hearing in Franklin on Jan. 15

Last Wednesday, January 15, MountainTrue members and staff attended the NC Utilities Commission hearing in Franklin to speak out against Duke Energy’s latest energy rate hike proposal. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the video of our Western Regional Director Callie Moore speaking at the hearing here.

If you couldn’t make the hearing, you can still take action to oppose the rate hike and learn more about Duke’s proposal here.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

French Broad Riverkeeper Pens Op-Ed On Lake Julian Coal Ash Cleanup

Supporters of MountainTrue and the Sierra Club take part in a float on Lake Julian to protest coal ash pollution in October 14, 2014. Photo: Courtesy photo by: Jeff Rich.

The Asheville Citizen-Times has published an opinion column by French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson, providing important technical information and historical context for the permit that Duke Energy is seeking as part of their cleanup of Lake Julian’s coal ash. As Hartwell makes clear: this is the resolution for which environmentalists and energy advocates have long fought — full excavation of all the remaining coal ash at Lake Julian and moving it to lined pits where it will stop polluting our groundwater and the French Broad River. Read more.

Learn Better Climate Change Communication Strategies At The Collider

Join MountainTrue, the Creation Care Alliance, the Sunrise Movement, UNCA Divest, the Wenoca group of the NC Sierra Club, Catawba Brewing and other co-hosts on January 23 from 5:30-7:30 PM for an engaging evening on effective strategies for communicating about climate change. We’ll have a brief reception in the Collider lobby with complementary beer and beverages at 5:30, followed by a program and discussion at 6.
Read more.
Event link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2848178995249271/

We’re Looking For An Intern To Join Our Water & Outreach Teams

MountainTrue will host a Community Outreach and Water Quality Intern through the Non-Profit Internship Program, funded in part by Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. This intern will work with both our French Broad Riverkeeper team on water quality projects and also our Community Engagement Manager on outreach, education and advocacy campaign efforts. The application is due February 10, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. (noon). Learn more.

Guardians of Our Troubled Waters at New Belgium Brewing

The Center for Cultural Preservation’s Guardians of Our Troubled Waters documentary film tells the story of three communities in Western North Carolina, east Tennessee and south Florida. The film uncovers their historical connection to their rivers and streams, how that changed during the industrial age, and the early heroes who rose to unite the community to stand up for their waterways. Join us at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville on Tuesday, February 25 for folk music by Carol Duermit at 7:00 PM followed by a film screening at 7:30. More details: https://saveculture.org/product/guardians-of-our-troubled-waters-new-belgium/

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Recycling Team Volunteers Brave The Weather To Recycle Hundreds Of Holiday Trees at Jackson Park in Hendersonville

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor cold will keep our dedicated Recycling Team volunteers from saving the planet and reducing waste. Led by super volunteer Doreen Blue, the team recycled 560 holiday trees at our Annual Holiday Tree and Wreath Recycling Event on Saturday, January 11.

We also collected two huge boxes of cards, 10 large bags of lights, and broke down about 30 wreaths for recycling. Hendersonville and Henderson County staff were a big help running the heavy equipment and mulcher provided by King’s Hardware, and friends from the local 4-H Club were out in force to lend a hand as well. Thank you to all of our volunteers for your amazing dedication to this event each winter.

Western Regional News

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

2019 Alternative Break Students Donate 1,200 Volunteer Hours to Restoring Native Habitats

MountainTrue West’s alternative breaks program went out with a bang! We hosted student groups from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and Georgia Southern University who helped us remove nonnative invasive plants like Chinese privet, Oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose and even kudzu. Altogether in 2019, we hosted 44 college student volunteers from five universities in three states, who donated more than 1,200 volunteer hours — worth $30,795 according to the value of volunteer time hourly rate established by Independent Sector for 2019. Work took place at several past stream restoration project sites, technical assistance locations, as well as the Riverwalk in Murphy, Cherokee County Heritage Park in Andrews and Mayor’s Park and Lloyd’s Landing in Hiawassee, Georgia.


College volunteers from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and Georgia Southern University participated in an alternative winter break Dec 15-20, 2019.

The schools that participated in order of participation are: Univ. of Missouri (aka Mizzou), Eastern Michigan Univ., Grand Valley State Univ. (MI), Saginaw Valley State Univ. (MI), and, new to our program this year: Georgia Southern Univ. Fourteen community volunteers also participated in the effort by providing lunches for the students on every work day.

Several Ways To Participate In The 12th Annual Watershed Gala

The 12th Annual Watershed Gala and Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award presentation is coming up on Thursday, February 27, 2020. The event promises to be a delightful evening of food, laughter, and fun as we gather to celebrate good water quality and to honor this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner, Brenda K. Hull! The Gala is also a fundraiser for the MountainTrue Western Regional Office and there are a variety of ways you can participate:

  • Become a sponsor – Our nearly 200 guests come not only from the local surrounding counties, but from places like Raleigh, Charlotte and Asheville, NC; Chattanooga and Knoxville, TN; and the greater Atlanta area. It’s a great opportunity to support clean water AND promote your business to a wider audience! To learn more, contact Development Director Adam Bowers at adam@mountaintrue.org
  • Donate an auction or raffle item – The Gala begins with a silent auction featuring beautiful and unique art and craft items made right here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as a variety of opportunities to dine and play! Following the meal and award presentation, several more exquisite items will be auctioned live by local auctioneer and entertainer, Tim Ryan. If you would like to donate arts and crafts, contact Western Regional Director Callie Moore at callie@mountaintrue.org
  • Attend the event – Reservations are $50 each or $360 for a reserved table for eight, and must be made by February 20. Guest names and entree selections must also be provided prior to the February 20th deadline. Get your tickets here.
  • Volunteer – Six to eight volunteers are needed to help with guest check-in, wrap-up the silent auction, sell raffle tickets and more. Unused sponsor seats are often available free to event volunteers. To volunteer, contact Western Regional Director Callie Moore at callie@mountaintrue.org 

Photo caption: Young Harris College students, Devin Filicicchia, Jessica Dudt, and Bethany Kenney pause for a photo during the 11th Annual Watershed Gala.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Jan. 23: Climate Change Communications Strategies At The Collider.
Join MountainTrue and other co-hosts to learn effective strategies for communicating about climate change.

Feb. 1: Winter Tree ID Workshop At The Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah Forest
Join Carrie’s Tree School and MountainTrue’s Public Lands Biologist Josh Kelly for a day in the classroom and in the woods learning how to identify trees.

Feb. 7: Paddle-N-Plant Workday In Hendersonville
Combat sediment pollution of our local waterways with MountainTrue and the French Broad Riverkeeper. We’ll plant stakes that grow into trees which stabilize riverbanks and reduce erosion.

Feb. 7: Creation Care Retreat In Montreat
Designed with Creation care volunteers and clergy in mind, spend the day learning from and with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, local colleagues and pastoral innovators.

Paddle-N-Plant Workdays In Valle Crucis
Come hop in a boat and help us reduce erosion along our local rivers by planting tree-cutting that grow into groundcover.
Feb. 9 workday
Feb. 16 workday 
Mar. 13 workday
Mar. 20 workday

Feb 25: Guardians of Our Troubled Waters at New Belgium Brewing
This documentary film tells the story of three communities in WNC, east Tennessee and south Florida and the heroes who rose to unite these  communities to stand up for clean water.

Feb. 27: 52 Weeks 52 Trees Art Exhibit In Flat Rock
Join us for the opening reception of an exhibition of paintings by artist Dale McEntire that are inspired by a love of the trees that surround us. Ten percent of proceeds from sales of paintings from the exhibition will be donated to MountainTrue.

Feb. 27: 12th Annual Watershed Gala In Young Harris
Join us at the 12th Annual Watershed Gala and Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award presentation for a delightful evening of food, laughter and fun, and to honor this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner, Brenda Hull!

Mar. 7: Spring SMIE Macroinvertebrate Training In Flat Rock
Become a citizen scientist and take part in our SMIE (Stream Monitoring Information Exchange) water quality monitoring program. Teams head out twice a year to creeks throughout Henderson and Polk counties to collect and identify aquatic insects — strong indicators of water quality.

Mar. 14: Annual Bird Watch At Lake Chatuge
Join MountainTrue and retired Young Harris College professor and former board member, Brenda Hull, to learn about and observe the birds of Lake Chatuge.

Mar. 21: Signs Of Spring Hike Into The Green River Gorge
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a moderate 6.8 mile out-and-back hike into the Green River Gorge. Guided by expert ecologist Bob Gale, we will search out the season’s first ephemeral wildflowers such as trillium, bloodroot and toothwort.

CHECK OUT THE FULL EVENTS CALENDAR


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

On January 2, MountainTrue, other community partners and our legal counsel the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced a historic settlement with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The agreement mandates that 80 million tons of coal ash will be excavated from six Duke Energy coal ash sites: Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. Prior settlements and court orders require cleanups and excavation of coal ash at the eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina for the excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash. This agreement now puts in place a comprehensive cleanup plan for all coal ash lagoons at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina under which 126 million tons of ash has been or will be excavated across the state and will result in the largest coal ash cleanup in America to date.

Statement from Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue:

With this settlement, Duke Energy has committed to fully excavating coal ash at the Rogers/Cliffside Energy Complex and moving it to a lined landfill where it will no longer pollute groundwater and the Broad River. This is the solution we’ve advocated for the last seven years, and it is a huge victory for our environment and for the front line communities most impacted by decades of coal ash pollution.

Statement from David Caldwell, Broad Riverkeeper:

Thanks should be given to the hundreds of local concerned citizens in Rutherford and Cleveland Counties, who showed up, stood up and spoke out at several public meetings. Together we were able to convince NCDEQ, our Department of Environmental Quality, and Duke Energy that moving all of the coal ash, a byproduct of 70 years of burning coal, to dry storage is the safest alternative to closing coal ash basins.

Read the full press release from SELC below.

For Release: January 2, 2020

Contact: SELC, Kathleen Sullivan, 919-945-7106 or ksullivan@selcnc.org

North Carolina Settlement Results in Largest Coal Ash Cleanup in America
Community Groups, N.C. DEQ and Duke Energy Reach Settlement to Clean Up Coal Ash at Six North Carolina Sites

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Southern Environmental Law Center today announced it reached a settlement with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to clean up coal ash at six North Carolina sites on behalf of Appalachian Voices, Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, MountainTrue, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Roanoke River Basin Association, Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse River Foundation/Sound Rivers, and N.C. State Conference of the NAACP. With this agreement, North Carolina will benefit from the largest coal ash cleanup in America to date.

Approximately 80 million tons of coal ash will be excavated from six Duke Energy coal ash sites: Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. At each of these sites, coal ash is stored in unlined, leaking pits near waterbodies. Prior settlements and court orders require cleanups and excavation of coal ash at the eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina for the excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash: Asheville, Riverbend, Dan River, Sutton, Weatherspoon, Cape Fear, Lee, and Buck. This agreement now puts in place a comprehensive cleanup plan for all coal ash lagoons at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina under which 126 million tons of ash has been or will be excavated across the state.

In April 2019, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered Duke Energy to clean up the remaining six coal ash storage sites in the state that were not yet slated to be cleaned up. Duke Energy appealed those orders, and the Southern Environmental Law Center intervened on behalf of community groups to support cleanup, alongside DEQ.
This agreement resolves Duke Energy’s pending appeals of DEQ’s April order, a state court enforcement proceeding brought by DEQ in which community groups represented by SELC are intervenors, and three federal court actions brought by SELC on behalf of the Roanoke River Basin Association, Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, N.C. State Conference of the NAACP, and Appalachian Voices.

Today’s settlement culminates efforts that began in 2012 when the Southern Environmental Law Center first went to court to seek cleanup of coal ash pollution on behalf of community groups in South Carolina and thereafter brought administrative and legal actions that sought coal ash cleanups in North Carolina. Now every utility in South Carolina is excavating its coal ash from every unlined lagoon in the state and cleanups are required and will be underway at every coal ash site in North Carolina. Coal ash has been, is being, and will be removed from coal ash pits owned by three utilities on rivers that flow through both states.

With the coal ash removal at Marshall and Allen in addition to prior commitments at other sites, approximately 44.5 million tons of coal ash has been and will be excavated from coal ash pits along the Catawba River in North and South Carolina. With the removals at Belews Creek, Mayo, and Roxboro, almost 40 million tons of ash in the Roanoke and Dan River Basins have been and are being moved to lined storage. Almost 17 million tons of coal ash will be removed at Roxboro and over 17 million tons of coal ash will be removed at Marshall while ash already in permitted landfills or structural fills will be subject to additional protective measures including stabilization actions and groundwater and surface water monitoring and remediation.
Over 8 million tons will be excavated at Cliffside on the Broad River.

“This agreement is the culmination of nine years of work by communities across North Carolina and puts in place the most extensive coal ash cleanup in the nation,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center which represents the community groups in court seeking coal ash cleanups in North Carolina. “With the agreements and court orders governing eight other coal ash sites, we now have in place a historic cleanup of coal ash lagoons to protect North Carolina’s clean water and families from coal ash pollution. North Carolina’s communities will be safer and North Carolina’s water will be cleaner than they have been in decades.”

Comments from the community groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center in various courts to seek cleanup of coal ash pollution at the six North Carolina sites follow.

Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices: “This agreement is a testament to the communities throughout North Carolina that have worked for years to protect their neighborhoods and clean water from coal ash pollution.”

Rev. Gregory Hairston of the Stokes County Branch of the NAACP: “We are thankful for the settlement and count it a major victory for our air, water and environmental justice in the state of North Carolina.”

Brandon Jones, Catawba Riverkeeper at the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation: “This settlement is a fantastic victory for the Catawba and all North Carolinians and a major step towards protecting water quality for current and future generations. This is one of, if not the largest coal ash cleanup in American history. We are proud to have been a part of this effort from the beginning.”

Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue: “With this settlement, Duke Energy has committed to fully excavating coal ash at the Rogers/Cliffside Energy Complex and moving it to a lined landfill where it will no longer pollute groundwater and the Broad River. This is the solution we’ve advocated for the last seven years, and it is a huge victory for our environment and for the front line communities most impacted by decades of coal ash pollution.”

Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance; “Duke Energy is doing the right thing and protecting all North Carolina communities and waterways from its toxic legacy. North Carolina Waterkeepers and their partners worked tirelessly to stop the contamination of the
state’s waterways by toxic coal ash; this monumental agreement is a testament to their years of work.”

Dave Rogers, deputy regional director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: “This agreement is a victory for communities and represents the culmination of years of work across North Carolina to guarantee protections from toxic coal ash pollution for hundreds of families and children.”

Statement by Gene Addesso, Mike Pucci and Greg Goddard, leaders of the Roanoke River Basin Association: “Under this agreement, the Roanoke River and Dan River Basins will see one of the largest coal ash cleanups in the country, with millions of tons of coal ash being moved to lined storage at the Dan River, Belews Creek, Roxboro, and Mayo sites on the river system that flows through communities in North Carolina and Virginia.”

Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman of the N.C. State Conference of the NAACP: “Coal ash pollution is an environmental justice issue, and this agreement will bring more justice to the communities around coal ash sites in North Carolina.”

###

For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Dec. Vistas E-News

Dec. Vistas E-News

On Jan. 15, Tell The NC Utilities Commission: No Rate Hikes For Dirty Energy!

Duke Energy is trying to raise our electric bills to pay for dirty energy. Again. Their new rate hike proposal lacks any direct investment in renewable energy and calls for customers to foot the bill to clean up coal ash. It would also be their fifth rate hike in ten years, and would increase residential electricity costs by another 6.7% – or about $97 more per year for the average electricity user.

Join MountainTrue members in Franklin on January 15 and in Morganton on January 16 to tell the NC Utilities Commission: Enough is enough. No rate hikes for more dirty energy. Learn more.

Calling Volunteers Who Like To Hike!

The draft Environmental Impact Study for the next forest management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests is due in February of 2020, and we are looking for volunteers who are interested in talking to hikers, anglers, birders or any type of recreational user at trailheads and parking lots about how they can help ensure the places they like to access are protected. If you’re interested in being part of our trail outreach team, please fill out this short sign-up form.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

We Protected 140 Ash Trees In 2019

Thanks to funding from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy‘s (ATC) License Plate Grants, MountainTrue and the ATC completed the third consecutive year of ash tree treatments on the Appalachian Trail. This year, we were able to protect more than 140 trees and three miles of trail from the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) — an invasive pest that kills all untreated ash trees. In three years, ATC and MountainTrue have worked together to save more than 900 beautiful ash trees from EAB along more than 11 miles of trail. These are likely to be the most extensive areas of ash trees remaining in the Southern Blue Ridge after the onslaught of EAB passes.

High Country Regional News

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

Help Andy Fight Microplastics in the Watauga Basin

Plastics are everywhere, including the Watauga River. They break down into smaller bits of plastic that end up being eaten by fish and other aquatic life and can bioaccumulate up the food chain. Help our Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill as he launches our microplastic survey of the Watauga Basin this spring. We are looking for volunteers to help collect water samples. Sign up here.

Sign up for our 2020 Livestaking Days

Please join us to help plant tree cuttings that will grow into shrubs and trees and help keep stream and river banks from eroding. “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Thanks To All Of Our Wonderful Volunteers!

We couldn’t do everything we do without our amazing volunteer force which helps us with water quality sampling, river cleanups, fighting invasive plants and pests, advocating on a range of issues, and much more. On December 11, we had the pleasure of gathering with many of our volunteers from MountainTrue’s Southern Region at Guidon Brewing Company in Hendersonville. We enjoyed beverages donated by the brewery, handed out some door prizes to a lucky few, and celebrated our accomplishments over the past year with some holiday cheer. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all of you that make our work possible and successful, and happy holidays!

Poop Patrol Identifies Some Problem Bacteria Hot Spots In The Mud Creek Watershed

Throughout the summer, our Swim Guide bacteria monitoring team found high levels of E. coli at sites along Mud Creek. To track down the source of the pollution, we enlisted the help of the Hendersonville Rotary Club. Their volunteers took weekly samples at over 20 sites in the Mud Creek watershed around Hendersonville. In all, they collected more than 130 water samples, which allowed MountainTrue’s Water Quality team to isolate two major hot spots of pollution that we suspect are related to pockets of homes that are not connected to the municipal sewer and instead have septic systems that are likely failing. We are now working with the City of Hendersonville, Henderson County Health Department, and NC Department of Environmental Quality to further isolate the problems and implement solutions.

Western Regional News

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

Take A Look Back At Our 2019 Western Region Successes

Trained volunteers collect water samples from area waterways to help MountainTrue keep tabs on stream condition and suitability for recreation.

Effective environmental organizations tend to be very forward-focused in their work, but as we turn the page on 2019, we’d like to take a moment to look back on what we’ve been able to accomplish together over the past year. You’re hearing a lot about MountainTrue’s overall accomplishments through emails and mailings, particularly with regard to protecting our public lands. Here are a few of the MountainTrue West region-specific projects and accomplishments from 2019:

  • Monitored bacteria levels at several popular recreation areas on the Pigeon River weekly throughout the summer months and posted results on the Swim Guide website.
  • Advocated for stronger water quality protections associated with a dredging and development project in the headwaters of the Chattooga River Watershed at a public hearing in Cashiers, NC.
  • Worked with two partners, WATR (Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River) and Trout Unlimited, to come up to speed on sediment pollution violations from massive amounts of development in the Tuckasegee River Watershed. (Protecting this river in the face of continued development is a top priority for MountainTrue West in 2020.)
  • Advocated alongside several other partners for better Corridor K alternatives in the Cheoah River and Valley River watersheds, successfully defeating two particularly bad new road alignments that would’ve fragmented large sections of the National Forest and negatively impacted streams and special places in Graham and Cherokee counties.
  • Helped organize a landowner outreach event for the Southeastern Hellbender Conservation Initiative in the Little Tennessee River Watershed.
  • Supported a team of certified volunteers who monitored water quality, including the monthly monitoring of bacteria levels at 47 locations in the Hiwassee River Watershed. Also provided technical assistance to 17 landowners and completed a stream bank stabilization and buffer project along Davis Creek in Cherokee County.
  • Held the 9th Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup and worked with the City of Hiawassee, GA and Hamilton Gardens on projects to eradicate kudzu and other non-native invasive plants.
  • Monitored water chemistry weekly in Butternut Creek just upstream of its confluence with Lake Nottely following the City of Blairsville’s decision to begin treating landfill leachate on a contract basis. No negative change in water quality has been detected downstream of the wastewater treatment plant as a result of this decision.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Jan 11: Give Your Christmas Trees A Second Life In Hendersonville
Recycle your Christmas trees, cards and wreaths and turn them into mulch for your garden and trees.

Jan 15 & 16: Duke Energy Rate Hike Hearings In Franklin And Morganton
Duke Energy is trying to raise our electric bills to pay for dirty energy. Again. Let your voice be heard at public hearings in Franklin and Morganton.

Jan. 18: Timber Sale Project Hike In Clay County
Join us for a hike to the part of Nantahala National Forest that will be impacted by the Buck Creek Timber Sale. Public Lands Biologist, Josh Kelly, will explain how timber sales work and how MountainTrue evaluates their impacts.

Feb. 1: Winter Tree ID Workshop At Cradle Of Forestry
Join MountainTrue and Carrie Blair of Carrie’s Tree School for a workshop on the basic techniques of tree identification.

Feb 7: Creation Care Retreat At Montreat
Designed with creation care volunteers and clergy in mind, spend the day learning from and with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, local colleagues and pastoral innovators.

Paddle-N-Plant Workdays In Valle Crucis
Come hop in a boat and help us reduce erosion along our local rivers by planting tree-cuttings that grow into groundcover.
Feb. 9. workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-5/
Feb. 16. workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-6/
Mar. 13 workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-8/
Mar. 20 workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-7/

Mar. 21 – Signs Of Spring Hike Into The Green River Gorge
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a moderate 6.8 mile out-and-back hike into the Green River Gorge. Guided by expert ecologist Bob Gale, we will search out the season’s first ephemeral wildflowers such as trillium, bloodroot, and toothwort.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

On Jan. 15, tell the NC Utilities Commission: No Rate Hikes for Dirty Energy!

On Jan. 15, tell the NC Utilities Commission: No Rate Hikes for Dirty Energy!

On Jan. 15, tell the NC Utilities Commission: No Rate Hikes for Dirty Energy!

Duke Energy is trying to raise our electric bills to pay for dirty energy. Again. The company’s latest rate hike proposal would increase residential electricity costs by another 6.7% – or about $97 more per year for the average electricity user.

Duke’s proposal lacks any direct investment in renewable energy and would raise our rates to burn more gas, create a “deferral” account of up to $2.5 billion for Duke to access in a future rate hike, and call for customers to foot the bill to clean up coal ash – even though Duke knew this coal ash was toxic as far back as the 1980s, and did nothing to prevent it. The rate increase would also come only two years after their last rate hike, and would be their fifth rate hike in ten years.

Join MountainTrue members in Franklin on January 15 and in Morganton on January 16 to tell the NC Utilities Commission: Enough is enough. Don’t let Duke pass the bill for more dirty energy to customers.

Rate Hike Hearing in Franklin
Wednesday, January 15 at 7:00PM
Macon County Courthouse
5 W. Main Street
Franklin, NC 28734

Rate Hike Hearing in Morganton
Thursday, January 16 at 7:00PM
Burke County Courthouse
201 South Green Street
Morganton, NC 28655


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

The fate of 1 million acres of our nation’s most important forest lands is in your hands.

The fate of 1 million acres of our nation’s most important forest lands is in your hands.

The fate of 1 million acres of our nation’s most important forest lands is in your hands.

Under the Trump Administration, the Forest Service has made a number of troubling policy proposals. By overhauling the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), they are making it harder for the public to protect our public lands. They’ve issued an executive order to increase timber harvest on national forests by one-third. They’ve proposed opening up vast swaths of rainforest to logging in Tongass National Forest. They’re pushing for oil and gas pipelines and open-pit mining — including a large copper sulfate mine that would pollute Minnesota’s beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The pattern is clear: time and again, this administration has put the interests of industry first regardless of the impact on our communities, our environment and our climate.

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests could be next on the cutting board.

The next 20-year forest management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be released soon, and it could have a dramatic impact on the health of our public lands.

Will you protect our national forests? Our goal is to raise $30,000 before the end of the year. Whether it’s $10 or $1,000, your gift makes sure our team of experts has the resources to fight for a better forest management plan. Join the thousands of MountainTrue members and supporters in standing up for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

Support MountainTrue’s Public Lands Team. With more than 50 years combined experience working for you, we fight to protect habitats that support vulnerable species, safeguard old-growth forests, and make sure you have wonderful outdoor spaces for biking, hiking, hunting, fishing and foraging.

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly documents the age of a 200-year-old tree as part of our objection to a timber sale.

Donate to MountainTrue today and protect places like Pisgah National Forest — because it’s the right thing to do now and for future generations. We can only do this with your support.

MountainTrue has a record of success when it comes to fighting for our forests.

In the 80s and early 90s, MountainTrue (then the Western North Carolina Alliance) collected more than 16,000 signatures opposing the practice of clearcutting — and the resulting petition was the length of three football fields. Through our collective action, we pressured the Forest Service to cut the maximum allowable harvest in half, stopped the practice of clearcutting in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, and put water quality protections and old-growth forest restoration in place.

Thirty years later, we need your support again to fight for a better management plan that balances the needs of all of us who love and value public lands. And if the Forest Service fails to do that, we will be here to fight back — just like we did in 1987.

Join MountainTrue and strengthen our collective voice. With your help we can:

  • be a voice for the wild and roadless parts of the forest,
  • protect existing old-growth forests,
  • educate and inform the public with professional analysis,
  • provide technical comments to the Forest Service, and
  • organize public participation in meetings and comment periods, making it difficult for the Forest Service to ignore the people who speak for the trees.

Thank you for standing with our beloved national forests. Remember, you can make a small donation that will have a big impact by signing up for monthly giving.

Members and supporters of the Western North Carolina Alliance (now MountainTrue) hold up a scroll of more than 16,000 petitions taped together outside the federal building in downtown Asheville.

Protect The Places We Share

Have fun with us, learn more about the incredible natural treasures of our region, and make a difference in your community.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Healthy Forests = Good Fishing

Healthy Forests = Good Fishing

Healthy Forests = Good Fishing

by Fred Mix

I’ve been an avid fisherman since before I could speak. In fact, I’ve even got a photo of me holding up a fish I caught from when I was still in diapers. And in all my time fishing, I’ve never been as concerned about the health of our rivers and streams as I am now.

That’s why I support MountainTrue — they help keep our rivers and streams fishable and clean.

One of my favorite fishing spots lies just below the Forest Service’s proposed Buck Project timber sale. The exact spot is this fisherman’s secret, but it’s a beautiful stream designated as an Outstanding Resource Water by the NC Department of Environmental Quality. Buck Creek is one of the largest and most biologically diverse of its type in WNC. It’s also the largest tributary of the Nantahala River above the headwaters, where there is no commercial development.

Not long ago, the Forest Service invited me and other stakeholders to tour the Buck Project site and assure us that we had nothing to worry about. They’re planning to cut new roads, bury culverts to redirect water and then to take them out when they finish up. While they told me this, all I could think about was all the water and mud that would wash right down the valley into Buck Creek. If they push this project through, our pristine waterway is gone. The Forest Service staff are good people, reasonable and smart, but are dead set on cutting those trees no matter the cost.

When I was younger, we caught a fish and we killed it. We were takers back then. Now I catch and release because I’m more interested in preserving what we have. Unfortunately, the Forest Service is stuck in the taking mode.

You can help protect our Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests by supporting MountainTrue’s PublicLands Team. Join as a MountainTrue member today and protect places like Buck Creek – because it’s the right thing to do, now and for future generations.

Fred Mix is a life-long Fisherman & MountainTrue supporter. He was born in New Orleans, raised in Atlanta, and has lived most of his life somewhere between Bluffton, SC and the Nantahala Gorge. Fred spent 11 years in the fire service, and has maintained a boat brokerage business for the last 30 years. He is an avid fisherman who volunteers his time and expertise surveying fish populations in Nantahala.

Protect the Places We Share

Have fun with us, learn more about the incredible natural treasures of our region, and make a difference in your community.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.