Nov. Vistas E-Newsletter

Creation Care Alliance Retreat 2020 Announced for Feb. 7-8

The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina will hold its 2020 retreat on Friday, February 7-8 at the Montreat Conference Center. This year’s retreat welcomes both clergy and creation care volunteers, and will allow you to spend a day with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, and local colleagues and pastoral innovators. Whether you’re new to creation care or a long-time advocate, you’ll gain new language and tools to inspire your congregation to care for the environment, interwoven with space for rest, relationship, prayer and good food. Read more.

Giving Tuesday Save the Date

December 3 is #GivingTuesday – the international day of giving back to our communities and our planet. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about getting deals, #GivingTuesday is about coming together to support and champion the causes we believe in, and the communities in which we live.

MountainTrue and our members protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for clean energy and a sound and sustainable future for all residents of our mountain region.

Consider making a donation this #GivingTuesday in support of MountainTrue to protect the places we share.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Buncombe County Takes Crucial First Step In Meeting Renewable Goals

On November 5, Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to request proposals for solar energy on county-owned buildings and land. With their vote, the County has taken a crucial first step in walking their talk on their renewable energy resolution, which sets a goal of transitioning Buncombe County’s government operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

But this is just a first step. When they discussed renewable energy, some Commissioners weren’t convinced that it’s an urgent priority. They need to hear that Buncombe County residents want them to go beyond exploring renewable energy to funding and building it – and that they need to get started as soon as possible.

Take action here to tell Buncombe County Commissioners: Thank you for voting to approve the solar request for proposals (RFP). Now, fund solar energy when proposals come back in the spring.

Mountaintrue And City Of Asheville Help Build New Falconhurst Trail System

The City of Asheville has partnered with MountainTrue’s Asheville Design Center to assist the Falconhurst neighborhood in building a new system of natural surface trails within the Falconhurst Nature Preserve. The Falconhurst Nature Preserve is a 7.9 acre parcel and the trail system will be a couple of loop trails that meander throughout the property.

“We are excited to give people the opportunity to explore this hidden gem in West Asheville,” said ADC’s Chris Joyell. “Our neighborhood volunteers will prepare the trails this winter, and we encourage folks to hike the trails next spring. Read more.

Tickets For The 2020 French Broad Riverkeeper Float Go On Sale Monday, Nov. 25

Next year’s annual French Broad Riverkeeper Float will take place on June 24-26, and tickets go on sale next Monday. This incredible trip down a stretch of the French Broad River is a great opportunity to create powerful memories of camping under the stars on the French Broad River Paddle Trail. Leave the hustle behind and experience the joys of river travel while having your meals provided, your campfire built and your gear transported for you to your next campsite. Read more.

High Country Regional News

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

Watauga Riverkeeper Welcomes Newest Member To Our Clean Water Team

Meet Cullen Birdsong Hill, born on October 18 to Betty Hill and her husband Andy, our Watauga Riverkeeper. It’s been a bit cold out, so you’ll have to wait until late spring before we can share a photo of Andy dipping him into the river.

Watauga Livestaking Program Combats Sediment Pollution

This year’s High Country live staking program kicked off with the Shade Your Stream Workshop, held by the Watauga Riverkeeper, New River Conservancy, and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development, where participants planted 400 trees along the Watauga in just one morning. That’s a great start. Livestakes are essentially baby trees (like Cullen) that grow root systems that help prevent stream banks from eroding and depositing sediment — our biggest source of water pollution — into the river. The more livestakes that we can plant this winter, the cleaner our river will be in future years. Come out and lend a helping hand: additional “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on December 6, December 13, February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Andy Hill Nominated For Best Environmentalist

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill is honored to have been nominated by the community for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s Best of the Blue Ridge Award — the largest and most prestigious outdoor awards in the Southeast. Voting concluded on November 7, and the winners will be announced in the January 2020 issue and online at blueridgeoutdoors.com. Winners will be recognized by newspapers, magazines, shops, and businesses across the region.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

PHHAT Crew Rescues ‘Buddy’ In Green River Gorge, Protects 1000th Hemlock Tree

On Sunday, November 3, the Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT), a partnership between our MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper, Hemlock Restoration Initiative, American Whitewater, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission, set out into the upper section of the Green River Gorge to protect hemlocks from the deadly woolly adelgid. As they paddled down Class III-IV whitewater getting deeper into the wilderness, they heard a bark, and a dog came down to greet our team by the water. The poor thing was lost and had been out for at least a night or two. We went into action, safely evacuating the dog back upstream to a trail where we were able to hike him out and turn him over to county animal services. The next day, “Buddy” was reunited with his family in Saluda who had been missing him since Friday. After this great demonstration of teamwork, the team continued downriver to treat several stands of hemlocks. This project has now protected more than 1,000 trees since we started two years ago!

‘From Climate Talk To Citizen Action’ Forum Draws Over 250 Attendees

On Sunday, October 27, MountainTrue cosponsored the “From Climate Talk to Citizen Action.” forum at Grace Lutheran Church in Hendersonville. The event was organized by local residents under the banner of Citizens Concerned with the Climate Crisis with the support of MountainTrue and others. Over 250 people turned out to hear speakers including David Eastering, Director of National Climate Assessment for NOAA — who offered an overview of climate science and projections. There was a panel discussion covering topics such as farming, plant-based diet, engaging faith communities, policy change, and technology. Celia Donaldson, President of the Student Body at Hendersonville High School, concluded the event by delivering an impassioned speech that implored adults to take action for the sake of future generations. The energy and momentum was palpable, and we look forward to capitalizing on this energy for positive change as we work to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in WNC.

Western Regional News

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

Save The Date: Our 12th Annual Watershed Gala Will Be On February 27th

Make plans now to join us on Thursday, February 27, 2020 for the 12th Annual Watershed Gala in the Charles Suber Banquet Hall at Young Harris College, Young Harris, Georgia. Reservations will be $50 each or $360 for a reserved table of eight and will include complimentary drink tickets.

The Watershed Gala is our annual event to celebrate the water quality of the many rivers, lakes and streams across the upper Hiwassee River watershed and to recognize those who work to sustain it. The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition is now part of MountainTrue, but this is still our largest fundraiser. We hope you will join us for a delightful evening of food, laughter, and fun and to help honor the 2020 Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner! More details coming soon!

Thank You for Helping Us Remove One Ton of Trash From Lake Chatuge

Despite temperatures below freezing and a cold wind, 41 volunteers turned out on Saturday morning, November 9 to clean up the shoreline of Lake Chatuge! Volunteers picked up 1.08 tons of trash – bringing our 9-year total to just over 12 tons! Thanks to TVA, Towns County Government, Boundary Waters Resort & Marina, the US Forest Service, Mary’s Southern Grill, Papa’s Pizza To-Go, and Sundance Grill for the sponsorships, in-kind donations and prizes.

MountainTrue Western Regional Director, Callie Moore (4th from right) presents members of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at Young Harris College along with Devin Filicicchia (left) and Dr. Charlie Swor (back) a gift certificate for a pizza party at Papa’s Pizza To-Go – the prize for the team that picked up the most trash.

Members of the Rotary Club of Lake Chatuge-Hiawassee stand with the trash collected at one Towns County location on the Lake Chatuge shoreline.

We Need Volunteers to Provide Lunches for Alternative Break Program

MountainTrue is continuing the Alternative Breaks program in the Hiwassee River watershed during the December winter break! During alternative breaks, college students choose to take part in service projects instead of relaxing during their seasonal break from classes. This year, we are hosting groups from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and Georgia Southern University during the week of December 15-20. Volunteers are needed to provide lunch for 16-24 students on four different weekdays. Help us fuel all their hard work; they really appreciate both the meals and the community engagement!


Volunteer, Barbara Lanwermeyer serves lunch to a group of alternative break participants in 2017.

To volunteer, email Callie (callie@mountaintrue.org). If mid-December is not a good time for you to help, you’ll have another opportunity in 2020, as we already have three schools confirmed for alternative spring breaks starting the week of February 23.

Buck Project Update: Forest Service Holds Objection Resolution Meeting

Mountain True Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly and Western Regional Director Callie Moore joined other partners represented by Southern Environmental Law Center in an objection resolution meeting on November 8 with the US Forest Service. The partners are opposed to the forest service’s latest proposal to build 8.9 miles of road and harvest timber in sensitive areas. (You can read more about the Buck Project and our objections here.)

Two other objectors who wanted to see more logging in the Buck Project area were also present. Forest Supervisor, Allen Nicholas actively listened to better understand the concerns of all parties during the professionally-facilitated session. The Forest Service intends to provide a response to our objection by December 16th.

Events & Opportunities

Nov. 20: Plugged in Buncombe: Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment
In an effort to encourage Buncombe County residents to get plugged into our local democracy, we want you to join us at advisory board or committee meetings. These meetings are designed to encourage residents’ input on specific community issues at the city and county level. Read more.

Dec. 4: Bearwallow Contemplative Hike w/ CCA in Hendersonville
Join us for a contemplative fall hike up Bearwallow mountain. This easy-to-moderate trail climbs one mile through lovely mountain forest, and opens up onto a large grassy field at the top. Read more.

Watauga Riverkeeper Paddle-n-Plant Workdays
Reduce the amount of sediment that flows into our rivers by planting live-stakes along eroding river banks with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue. Sign up for:
Dec. 6 workday
Dec. 13 workday
Feb. 9 workday
Feb. 16 workday 
Mar. 13 workday

Dec. 7: Alexander River Park Public Workday in Alexander
Join Asheville GreenWorks, MountainTrue and RiverLink for a restoration extravaganza! Take part in River Cane Propagation, Invasive Removal, Tree Planting and Stream Cleanup. Read more.

Dec. 12: Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Plastic Reduction Task Force & Trash Trout
Eric Bradford, Director of Operations with Asheville GreenWorks, will join us to discuss the issue of plastics and waste reduction efforts in WNC. Read more. 

Feb. 7-8 Creation Care Retreat in Montreat
Designed with creation care volunteers and clergy in mind, this retreat allows you to spend a day with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, and local colleagues and pastoral innovators. Read more.

 


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.

Vistas E-News, October 2019

MountainTrue Annual Gathering At New Belgium

Join us on October 23rd for our 2019 Annual Gathering at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville. Expect great beer, delicious food and great camaraderie.

Stronger Together: MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering
October 23, 6-9 pm
New Belgium Brewing Company
21 Craven St., Asheville, NC 28806
Click Here to RSVP

MountainTrue is a member organization, and your dedication and support helps us fight for our communities and protect one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. At the Annual Gathering we’ll be honoring our 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners, voting on our new board nominees and celebrating our recent merger with the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition.

MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering is made possible with the help of the law firm of Davis & Whitlock Environmental Law. Together with New Belgium Brewing, their generous support helps us keep costs for the Annual Gathering low.

Vote On Our New Board Nominees

MountainTrue’s board members are voted on and approved by our current members. With so many new members throughout our region, this year we are rolling out electronic voting. You must be a current member for your vote to count.

Vote Online Now

Online votes will be tallied along with a live vote that will take place at our Annual Gathering.

Meet Our 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners

MountainTrue is proud to announce our annual award winners for 2019. These awards are given to MountainTrue members and volunteers who have been outstanding in their commitment to preserving WNC’s natural heritage. Awards will be formally presented at our Annual Gathering on October 23.

  • Esther Cunningham Award Winner: Katie Breckheimer
  • Volunteer of the Year for the High Country Region: Chris Souhrada
  • Volunteers of the Year for the Southern Region: Kay Shurtleff and Lucy Butler
  • Volunteer of the Year for the Western Region: Charlie Swor
  • Volunteer of the Year for the Central Region: Erin Gregory

Read more about our MountainTrue Award winners.

Nominate MountainTrue For Best Of The Blue Ridge Awards

Cast your vote for your favorite outdoor organizations, businesses, events, people and destinations. The nomination window for Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Best of the Blue Ridge closes on October 18 at 9AM. We would appreciate your support for Best Environmental Organization in the Businesses category. Vote now.

Calling Volunteers Who Like To Hike!

In advance of the release of the next management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, 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 Region News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Building Our City Speaker Series Addresses Walkability And Road Diets

Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who advocates internationally for more walkable cities. We are excited for him to come to Asheville to inspire our community to imagine and plan for a more vibrant, walkable city. Jeff will be touching on the upcoming Charlotte St. road diet project which will decrease vehicle traffic lanes in order to add bike lanes and other bike and pedestrian friendly features. Join us to hear how projects like this will transform our community!
Read more.

Plugged In Buncombe Makes It Easier To Participate In Local Democracy

Have you ever wanted to attend a local government meeting, but worried you wouldn’t be able to follow along? This fall, MountainTrue is working to remove this roadblock through Plugged in Buncombe, an effort to demystify local advisory boards and committees. Participants will get the background on each meeting they’re interested in, and will be paired up with local topic experts who will be available to answer questions before and after each meeting. See the full list of meetings here and sign up to participate here.

Paint-Out And Artist Retreat To Preserve The French Broad

Join Preserving a Picturesque America (PAPA) for a free four day retreat in Hot Springs from Oct. 24-27. Conservationists, writers, artists are invited to participate in creating, learning and sharing ways to preserve the scenic beauty of the French Broad River. PAPA will be giving tours to sites that were depicted in the 1872 book, Picturesque America. The goal is to create an updated version of the book to promote the protection of these sites. For more details contact Scott Varn at 828-273-5383. Check out the Facebook Event.

Join The Buncombe County Parks, Greenway And Recreation Advisory Board

The Buncombe County Parks, Greenways, and Recreation Advisory Board was dissolved a few years ago but is now being reestablished. The County is starting from scratch and is seeking to get representation from a wide cross section of residents. The inaugural board will have a tremendous influence on goals and processes — a big task, but an important one. If you have a passion for parks, greenways and recreation, apply here.

High Country Regional News

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

Watauga Live Staking Season Kicks Off On October 18 In Boone

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill is looking for some hearty volunteers to help stabilize local riverbanks. Volunteers will plant “live stakes” — a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks. They grow into trees and their root systems shore up riverbanks and reduce erosion.

The series kicks off with a Shade Your Stream workshop in partnership with the New River Conservancy and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development Council and takes place this Friday, October 18, 2019 at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center. Learn more.

Additional “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on November 8, November 15, December 6, December 13, February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Watauga Riverkeeper Conducts Hellbender And Mussel Survey

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill scuba diving with a headlamp. 

As part of the environmental impact survey for a dam removal project in the Watauga River Basin, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill joined Dr. Mike Gangloff from Appalachian State University to conduct a survey of Hellbenders and Green Floater Mussels — a species of special concern and a threatened species, respectively. The aim of the project is to improve aquatic habitat and to ensure that dam removal does not harm these local treasures.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Green Riverkeeper Tracks Down Sewer Leak

Over the summer of Swim Guide bacteria sampling, we got some unusually high E. coli results in Cove Creek below Little Bradley Falls. Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan received a tip about a broken sewer line from a Saluda resident and did some follow up testing. Upstream the water tested clean. Twenty yards downstream was nine times over the EPA limit of 235 coliform forming units per 100 mL of water. The Green Riverkeeper has contacted the Town of Saluda and we’ll be working with them to get this fixed.

Help Save The Hemlocks Of The Green River

The eastern hemlocks of our Green River Gorge are under attack by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic invasive insect that will kill most of our region’s hemlock trees within the decade unless action is taken. Join the Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT) for a day on the Lower or Upper Green River treating and saving hemlocks. For the Lower Green, no experience is necessary. For the November 3 workday on the Upper Green, all volunteers must have their own gear and be experienced on Class III whitewater. Sign up for one of four upcoming workdays:

Western Regional News

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

Support Native Habitats, Buy A Native Tree Or Shrub

Native trees and shrubs are important to the integrity of local habitats and key components to healthy streams and lakes. They provide shelter and food for native animals, filter pollution from water runoff, trap excess soil, keep water water temperatures cooler and help prevent stream bank erosion.

To raise awareness about the beautiful, resilient plants that are native to our Southern Appalachian Mountains and to raise funds for our ongoing invasive plant eradication efforts, we are again holding a Native Tree and Shrub Sale this fall. Choose from 25 species of native trees and shrubs, ranging from large shade trees, native ornamentals, pollinator species, and those particularly beneficial to wildlife.
Read more and order yours.

Callie Takes Part In Panel Discussion On Water & Climate Change

MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director, Callie Moore, participated in a well-attended film screening and panel discussion presented by WNC Climate Action Coalition on September 21 at Lake Junaluska. Panelists, which also included David Weintraub, director of the film Guardians of our Troubled Waters, and Eric Romaniszyn, executive director of Haywood Waterways Association, discussed local rivers, water quality and climate change-related impacts. Extreme weather events associated with climate change are causing increases in runoff, flooding and landslides across our mountain region. Panelists discussed how this is impacting water quality and straining our water infrastructure. Thanks to MountainTrue member, Neva Duncan Tabb for facilitating MountainTrue’s participation and providing signage to call attention to our table at the event. (Photo: Callie & Neva Duncan Tabb)

Save The Date! The Hiwassee Watershed Gala Returns On February 27, 2020

The 12th Annual Watershed Gala and Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award presentation will be held on February 27, 2020. This is our annual celebration and a chance to recognize all of our members, supporters and volunteers who work to keep our Hiwassee watershed healthy and clean. We hope you will join us for a delightful evening of food, laughter, and fun. Further details to come.

Upcoming Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Now – Nov. 11: Fall Native Tree And Shrub Sale In Murphy
Choose from 25 species of native trees and shrubs, including large shade trees, native ornamentals, pollinator species, and those particularly beneficial to wildlife, and support the work of MountainTrue.

Oct. 16: Plugged In Buncombe
In an effort to encourage Buncombe County residents to get plugged into our local democracy, we want you to join us at advisory board or committee meetings. These meetings are designed to encourage residents’ input on specific community issues at the city and county level.
3:30-5:30 p.m.: Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment
5:00-7 p.m.: Planning & Zoning Commission

Oct. 18: Shade Your Stream Workshop With The Watauga Riverkeeper And Friends
Join our Watauga Riverkeeper, the New River Conservancy, and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development for a workshop focused on stream bank repair and live staking techniques.

Oct. 22, Nov. 1, 3 & 10: PHHAT Hemlock Treatment Workday On The Green River
Save the hemlocks of the Green River from the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid.
Sign up for the Oct. 22 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 1 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 3 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 10 workday. 

Oct. 22: High Country Habitat Restoration Workday
Learn about some of the worst invasives in the region and help clean up the Boone Greenway with MountainTrue and the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition.

Oct. 23: Stronger Together: MountainTrue’s 2019 Annual Gathering
Celebrate another great year of protecting the places we share with MountainTrue at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville.

Nov. 2: Guardians Of Our Troubled Waters Film Exhibition In Mill Spring
Join filmmaker David Weintraub for a screening of and discussion about his documentary featuring the stories of the river heroes who helped clean up our waters.

Nov. 7: Plugged In Buncombe: Planning And Zoning Commission
Learn about the works of the Planning and Zoning Commission and how you can get involved in helping to steer future development in the city of Asheville.

Nov. 6: Building Our City Speaker Series With Jeff Speck In Asheville
Prepare to be inspired at this latest installment of the Building Our City Speaker Series featuring Jeff Speck, a city planner and urban designer who advocates or more walkable cities.

Nov. 8 & 15: Watauga Riverkeeper Paddle-N-Plant Workday
Reduce the amount of sediment that flows into our rivers by planting live-stakes along eroding river banks with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue.
Sign up for the Nov. 8 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 15 workday.

Nov. 9: Lake Chatuge Clean Up
MountainTrue hosts the 10th Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup in conjunction with Georgia Rivers Alive! The first 100 volunteers receive a free Rivers Alive t-shirt.

Nov. 14: Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Story Of DuPont State Recreational Forest
Sara Landry, Executive Director with Friends of DuPont State Forest will join us to discuss the story of DuPont State Forest.

Check out our 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.

Meet the 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners

Meet the 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners

MountainTrue is proud to announce our annual award winners for 2019. These awards are given to MountainTrue members and volunteers who have been outstanding in their commitment to preserving WNC’s natural heritage. Awards will be formally presented at our Annual Gathering on October 23 at New Belgium Brewing Company in Asheville.

The awards are as follows:

Esther Cunningham Award Winner: Katie Breckheimer
This award is given in honor of Esther Cunningham, the founder of the Western North Carolina Alliance, and is MountainTrue’s most prestigious award.

Katie Breckheimer has been a leader in environmental advocacy in WNC for over three decades. She was active with the Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO) in Henderson County, and then was crucial to the success of the transformative 2015 merger between ECO, the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) and the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance (JMCA) that created MountainTrue. Not long after the merger, Katie’s natural capacity for leadership and her commitment to our work led her to serve a term as MountainTrue’s Board Chair.

Katie has played a major role in advocacy efforts including green energy, promoting greenways and recycling, and stopping coal ash pollution and expansion of Asheville’s Duke Energy power plant. Katie launched and continues to host Green Drinks in Hendersonville, a monthly social gathering and lecture series on environmental issues. Her passion for and dedication to environmental protection is beyond compare, and has positioned her as a leading voice for natural resources across the region.

Volunteer of the Year for the High Country Region: Chris Souhrada

Shortly after moving to Banner Elk, Chris connected with MountainTrue and immediately became one of MountainTrue’s most dedicated and reliable volunteers in the High Country. Chris has been a long-running water quality volunteer with the Volunteer Water Information Network (VWIN) program. High Country Regional Director Andy Hill calls him “the MVP and anchor of the water quality team who covers for others when needed, goes above and beyond what is asked of him and is always willing to help with other projects like livestaking and non-native invasive removal.” In general, Andy says Chris is just a hell of a guy and we are pleased to award him our High Country Region Volunteer of the Year!

Volunteers of the Year for the Southern Region: Kay Shurtleff and Lucy Butler

Kay and Lucy have both been committed volunteers with MountainTrue’s Southern Regional Office water quality monitoring programs for over a decade. Together they coordinate over 30 water testing sites by collecting samples from all of the volunteers and transporting them to the lab every month. They also participate in and coordinate biomonitoring for water insects in local streams twice per year. In addition to their ongoing commitments to our water programs, they have helped with a variety of other initiatives including Christmas tree recycling, river cleanups, local festivals, and advocacy at public meetings. Southern Region Director Gray Jernigan says “they are two of our most dedicated and reliable members and set the example by being great stewards of our natural environment.” Congratulations Kay and Lucy!

Volunteer of the Year for the Western Region: Charlie Swor

As the former secretary of the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) board of directors, Charlie worked hard on the complex and successful merger between HRWC and MountainTrue this past summer. Charlie also participates in our volunteer water quality monitoring program, taking monthly water chemistry and E. coli measurements from Corn Creek. He spearheaded a partnership between Young Harris College and HRWC for management of the Corn Creek riparian corridor, creating a much healthier stream environment and a more pleasant walk on the college’s streamside trail. Charlie float-fishes area rivers on a regular basis and lets us know when he discovers issues that might impact water quality. “Charlie is one of those ‘go-to’ guys when we need help with set-up for an event or really any ‘ole thing,” says Western Regional Director Callie Moore. “If he’s not busy and his wife, Rachel can take care of the kids (thanks Rachel!), he’s there!”

Volunteer of the Year for the Central Region: Erin Gregory

Erin has been a key volunteer for the French Broad Riverkeeper program for the last two years, spending hours each week collecting water samples that have led to the team finding no fewer than three major sewer issues. When French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson and Watershed Outreach Coordinator Anna Alsobrook were out of town earlier this summer, Erin texted them to report an issue and then also contacted the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality on their behalf to instigate a quicker response. She has single-handedly created a French Broad River Festival for our Beer Series at The Wedge, including gear builders, outfitters, and other local producers, and she prompted the Asheville Yoga Center to designate MountainTrue their Charity of the Month. We couldn’t do it without you Erin!


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.

Diana Richards invites you to attend an evening with the Green and Broad Riverkeepers


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.

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition and MountainTrue Team Up Through Merger

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition and MountainTrue Team Up Through Merger

Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition (HRWC) has merged with Western North Carolina conservation nonprofit MountainTrue as of July 1. Both organizations share a commitment to protecting our waters and forests. The merger is an important step toward building one organization that can effectively advance the interests of our mountain region through a combination of grassroots organizing, community-driven planning and strategic advocacy.

HRWC will maintain its Murphy, NC office, and its work in North Carolina and Georgia will continue under the name MountainTrue. However, HRWC Executive Director Callie Moore will take on the expanded role of MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director.

This merger is the result of focused discussions within and between both organizations’ boards and staffs since November. Prior to merging, each group reached out to their major funders, partner groups, and other stakeholders. The overwhelming conclusion from this exploration was positive, and both boards voted to support a formal merger in early June. Then, MountainTrue members were polled and voted to approve the merger in accordance to that organization’s bylaws.

Why Merge?

In Fall 2018, wanting to have an on-the-ground presence in the seven far western counties — Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain — MountainTrue posted a job listing for a regional director. When Callie Moore, the executive director of HRWC, saw MountainTrue advertising the position, she wondered if it would be possible to gain more capacity for HRWC’s mission by collaborating in some more formal way with MountainTrue.

After consulting with the HRWC board executive committee, Callie met with MountainTrue co-directors, Julie Mayfield and Bob Wagner. That discussion led to considering a merger. “When Callie suggested working together in the western region we immediately put our hiring process on hold in order to start exploring a merger,” explains Bob Wagner.

Much of the two organizations’ work, especially around water quality and watershed protection, is complementary. HRWC has built up a local grassroots constituency of volunteers and supporters to improve water quality in the Hiwassee watershed in Georgia and North Carolina through water quality monitoring and education, controlling sediment pollution by restoring stream banks and stream side native habitats, and reducing bacterial pollution from septic systems and agricultural operations. MountainTrue has a nearly identical set of programs through their Broad, French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeeper programs.

“It makes a lot more sense to join forces with an organization that already has an impressive list of accomplishments and a strong base of support than to build all that from scratch.” explains MountainTrue’s other co-director, Julie Mayfield.

Both organizations approached their respective boards. Interest was high and formal discussions began to tackle the hard questions: What are the benefits of merging? And what are the challenges and concerns?

For the HRWC, it was clear that merging with MountainTrue would open new doors for growth. HRWC is financially stable but a small operation with an annual budget of only around $140,000. Many larger foundations and funders are hesitant to provide big grants if it means that they would make up a significant portion of an organization’s annual budget. With 37 years of experience and a $1.7 million budget, MountainTrue is a better fit for larger institutional funders.

Merging with MountainTrue would also allow HRWC to streamline their operations and direct more time towards projects and programs. MountainTrue has an experienced staff of 20 professionals who can provide HRWC volunteer/member engagement, communications, and management support — including back-of-the-house services such as bookkeeping and database management. MountainTrue has a communications and engagement team to help with event and program promotion, a development team for assistance with fundraising, and a public lands team ready to lend their expertise. “I am very excited about handing over many of my administrative responsibilities to someone else so that I can focus more on programs,” says Callie.

“Our organizations are stronger together,” explains Jason Chambers, chairperson of the HRWC board of directors. “The merger means that HRWC’s long-standing mission of sustaining good water quality will continue, but with better resources for our programs, services, and on-the-ground projects.”

“Both organizations recognize how important it is for HRWC’s supporters to feel their voices are heard and their concerns continue to be addressed,” Callie Moore notes. “There’s going to be a transition period where both organizations will maintain their websites, but the long-term goal is that HRWC’s volunteers and supporters will be just as proud to be members of MountainTrue.”

“The merger is an important step toward building one organization that can effectively advance the interests of the mountain region of Western North Carolina and North Georgia.” says Bob Wagner. “At MountainTrue, we know that the people of Western North Carolina and the people of Towns and Union counties have a shared love of our forests, rivers and natural environment that crosses county, state, and partisan lines. We want to harness those shared values for the benefit of all our communities. That’s what it means to be MountainTrue.”


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.

Ask The General Assembly To Support WNC Rivers in the Budget

Ask The General Assembly To Support WNC Rivers in the Budget


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 Broad River Gets Its Own Riverkeeper

The Broad River Gets Its Own Riverkeeper

MountainTrue is pleased to announce that David Caldwell, MountainTrue’s program director for the Broad River Alliance, is now the new Broad Riverkeeper and will serve as a fundamental protector of the Broad River watershed. MountainTrue’s riverkeeper programs are key to our endeavors to monitor and protect the quality of our region’s waterways. MountainTrue is one of the few organizations in the nation with four Waterkeeper Alliance Riverkeeper programs: the French Broad Riverkeeper, the Green Riverkeeper, the Watauga Riverkeeper and now the Broad Riverkeeper.

Quote from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance:
“Waterkeeper Alliance is thrilled to have David Caldwell as the eyes, ears, and voice in this this vital watershed and community. Every community deserves to have swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, and David is the right leader to fight for clean water in the region.”

David moved to the Broad River watershed in 1987 after receiving an Engineering degree from Clemson University. He worked in manufacturing for several years in Shelby, and has been fishing, paddling and exploring the watershed’s rivers and tributaries for over three decades now.

David’s first civic involvement was in the late 90s, when he joined efforts to rebuild and restore the carousel in Shelby City Park. The carousel is now a jewel of the City of Shelby Parks system. Since 2000, David has also run a woodworking business at his home in Lawndale.

In 2015, David became the Coordinator for the Broad River Alliance, a Waterkeeper Affiliate and program of MountainTrue. David has teamed up with regional representatives from the Broad River Greenway, Rutherford Outdoor Coalition, Rutherford County and Cleveland County Development Authorities and others to protect and promote the waters of the Broad River basin.

Quote from David Caldwell, the Broad Riverkeeper:
“I’ve spent the past three decades falling in love with the Broad River and its tributaries. It is an honor to be able to call myself a Riverkeeper and to continue my mission to ensure our rivers are safe and clean for the people who live, swim, paddle, and fish here. Folks in our watershed are passionate about our beautiful rivers and have amazed me with their enthusiasm and support. We have a lot of great programs and activities planned for our community in the year ahead. I hope that you will join us.”

Quote from Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue:
“MountainTrue is proud of our partnership with the Waterkeeper Alliance. Our Riverkeepers fight for safe and healthy waterways for all citizens of their watersheds by bringing together and empowering local residents and communities to identify pollution sources, advocate for and enforce environmental laws, and engage in restoration. We’re thrilled to be bringing this program to our Broad River communities.”

Quote from Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance:
“David will have an incredibly important job. Waterkeepers defend their communities against anyone who threatens their right to clean water, from law-breaking polluters to irresponsible government officials. Until our public agencies have the means necessary to protect us from polluters, and the will to enforce the law, there will always be a great need for people like David to fight for our right to clean water.”


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.

How Clean Is Your River? Check Swim Guide

How Clean Is Your River? Check Swim Guide

Before you head out onto the water, don’t forget to check theswimguide.org. MountainTrue’s four Riverkeepers post up-to-date water monitoring results for the Broad, French Broad, Green and Watauga rivers just in time for the weekends. The Swim Guide is the public’s best resource for knowing which streams and river recreation areas are safe to swim in, and which have failed to meet safe water quality standards for bacteria pollution.

Check out the Swim Guide.

“Right before jumping into the river, the number one question people ask us is ‘Is it clean?’” says French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “Swim Guide is the answer to that question.” Each week throughout the spring, summer and fall, the volunteers for each of MounainTrue’s four Riverkeeper programs collect samples from their rivers’ most popular streams and recreation areas every Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, those samples are analyzed for levels of E. coli and the data is posted to theswimguide.org.

“We get the results to the public as quickly as possible because we want Swim Guide to be up-to-date in time for the weekend,” says Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan.

“E. coli bacteria makes its way into our rivers and streams from sewer leaks, failing septic tanks and stormwater runoff. One of the biggest culprits is runoff from animal agricultural operations with substandard riparian buffers,” explains Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell. In general, waterways that are located in more remote areas or protected public lands that lack agricultural, developmental or industrial pollution sources are the cleanest and least affected by stormwater runoff. Areas closer to development and polluting agricultural practices are much more heavily impacted.

Heavy rains and storms often result in spikes in E. coli contamination, increasing the risk to human health. “As it rains and the river becomes muddier, levels of bacteria pollution generally get worse,” Watauga Riverkeeper Andy explains. “But when the water is clear, it’s a great opportunity to get out for a swim in the river without worry.”


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

Take Part in the Very First BioBlitz of the Nantahala Gorge

Take Part in the Very First BioBlitz of the Nantahala Gorge

Join MountainTrue, Nantahala Outdoor Center and Nantahala River Lodge for the Nantahala Gorge BioBlitz – a citizen-science program that will pair residents with more than a dozen expert naturalists to document one of the exceptional natural areas of Nantahala National Forest.

What: Nantahala Gorge BioBlitz, presented by MountainTrue, Nantahala Outdoor Center and Nantahala River Lodge.
Where: Nantahala Outdoor Center, 13077 Highway 19 W, Bryson City, NC 28713
When: Meet up on Saturday, June 1 at 9 a.m. at the Big Wesser restaurant at the Nantahala Outdoor Center

The Nantahala Gorge BioBlitz is an opportunity for people who love the great outdoors and want to learn more about the plants and creatures who call Nantahala Gorge their home. Nantahala Gorge is characterized by the unique geology of the Murphy Marble Belt. This soft rack has been carved by the Nantahala River into a scenic gorge that is known to harbor many unique species reliant on calcium – a soil nutrient in short supply in the Blue Ridge. Despite its outstanding character, the Nantahala Gorge has never had a systematic biological inventory and the BioBlitz is likely to turn up new records for the area.

“BioBlitzes are a great opportunity for people connect with and learn about the natural world around them,” explains MountainTrue Public Lands Biologist Josh Kelly. “We’re going to be documenting a broad range of life at Nantahala Gorge, including butterflies, beetles, vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, birds, mammals, mushrooms, and more.”

Expert hike leaders will include faculty from UNC Asheville, Western Carolina University, Mars Hill University as well as naturalists from the U.S. Forest Service’s Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory,, Asheville Mushroom Club, Tangled Bank Conservation and MountainTrue.

We will lead groups for all fitness levels, from relaxed hikes to vigorous climbs up the side of the the gorge. Participants are encouraged to bring at least two quarts of water, rain gear, sturdy footwear and their own lunches.

This event is free and open to the public. Sign up below.

 


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.

Celebrate Earth Day with MountainTrue

Celebrate Earth Day with MountainTrue

As you may have heard, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced recently that it will order a full cleanup of every coal ash pit in the state! This is truly one of the biggest environmental victories of our era. As if that wasn’t enough, last week Duke Energy announced that it has indefinitely postponed the construction of a 190-megawatt gas-fired peaker plant on Lake Julian, removing it from its list of future projects.

For six years, MountainTrue members kept the pressure on Duke Energy and the state Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the coal ash mess and to move beyond fossil fuels toward more efficiency and renewable energy. You are part of that legacy. Your support held Duke Energy accountable. These victories are an important reminder that your activism can change the course of history.

When you stand with MountainTrue, you fight for our environment. Will you stand alongside MountainTrue this Earth Day?

Whether you’re taking action in the field, making conscious decisions in your daily life that lead to a sustainable future, or making contributions that invest in a lasting impact, we celebrate you for being part of a community that is making a difference this Earth Day.

By donating to MountainTrue, you safeguard public lands, advocate for the common good in the halls of government, protect our waterways, and help build a sustainable future in the face of climate change.

In honor of Earth Day, act locally by making a contribution to MountainTrue today. With your donation, you will be helping to fight for future successes like these.

Thank you for being part of MountainTrue and making this work possible.


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.