Laurel Creek Inholding now part of Nantahala National Forest

Laurel Creek Inholding now part of Nantahala National Forest

Laurel Creek Inholding now part of Nantahala National Forest

by Callie D. Moore, MountainTrue Western Regional Director

On June 17, 2020, the U.S. Government purchased a 49.33-acre in-holding at the headwaters of Laurel Creek, in Clay and Cherokee counties, making the land public and part of Nantahala National Forest! The purchase from the Mainspring Conservation Trust closes the loop on a 12-year battle by the former Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, MountainTrue and several other partners to prevent private landowners from building a road through the National Forest and cabins at the top of pristine headwaters of Fires Creek.

The long journey to public ownership began back in 2008 when the Forest Service released a scoping notice for a proposed road-building project in the Fires Creek watershed of Nantahala National Forest in Clay County. Through the scoping letter, we learned that in March 2006 some people had collectively purchased an almost 50-acre inholding (piece of private land completely surrounded by public land) on the rim of the Fires Creek watershed with no vehicular access and they were requesting to build a road to it. The preferred route was following a very old logging road, turned horse trail, for 3.5 miles up the Laurel Creek and Hickory Cove Creek drainages, and then constructing 0.34-miles of new road at the very top.

The potential environmental impact of this project was extreme. Of the 3.84 miles of proposed road, 57% (including all of the new road construction) lies within the Nantahala (geologic) Formation. As was reported in the Environmental Assessment, “The Nantahala Formation is one of many formations known to the North Carolina Geologic Survey as posing a high risk of generating acid runoff because of the abundance of iron sulfides in the rock.” Additionally, there are 13 stream crossings and 1.44 miles (37%) lies within 100 feet of perennial streams.

Fires Creek is classified by North Carolina as an Outstanding Resource Water (ORW). There are only nine ORWs in WNC! Yet, despite this and a state Significant Aquatic Natural Heritage Area designation, as well as the area’s popularity for a wide variety of recreational activities from hunting, fishing and horseback riding to hiking, swimming and nature study, and the potential environmental impacts, the Forest Service continued to favor and would ultimately approve the Laurel Creek route for the road.

Over a 10-year period, Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition, MountainTrue and our partners advocated for water quality protections related to the road-building activity though comments, objections and appeals. After five revisions to the Environmental Assessment, the final decision included many provisions that made the project cost-prohibitive for the landowners. In 2018, they sold the inholding to Mainspring until the Forest Service could acquire the funds to purchase it.

This is a major victory for clean water, public lands and outdoor recreation. And it’s a victory that would not have been possible without the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Without the requirement for the Forest Service to solicit and consider public input, there would likely be a 4-mile road (open for vehicular traffic only to the inholding landowners and their guests) right beside Laurel and Hickory Cove Creeks in the heart of the pristine Fires Creek watershed! There would probably be private homes up on top of the rim and a superb 3-day backpacking loop permanently severed. Without NEPA, we probably wouldn’t have even known about the project until construction and water quality violations began.

Project partners in alphabetical order:
Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition
NC Wildlife Federation
Mountain High Hikers
MountainTrue (and Western NC Alliance before that)
Southern Environmental Law Center
The Wilderness Society
Trout Unlimited NC Council
Wild South


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.

Support Backcountry Recreation in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Management Plan

Support Backcountry Recreation in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Management Plan

Support Backcountry Recreation in the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Management Plan

Help protect our forests and our backcountry areas by submitting your public comment today. The deadline for public comment is June 29, and this is our last significant opportunity to win better protections and influence how our public lands are managed for the next 15-20 years.

There’s no better way to get away from the hustle and bustle of civilization than to head out into the backcountry. The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests provide us with a myriad of ways to get away and spend time in the wild such as hiking and backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, canoeing, camping and whitewater kayaking.

These are wonderful pastimes that so many people in our region enjoy as ways to keep fit and clear our minds from the stress of everyday life. Our abundant backcountry areas are also an incredible economic resource for local businesses because people travel here from around the country and the world to vacation in our national forests. More than 10 million people visit our national forests every year, many of them for backcountry recreation pastimes. The Outdoor Alliance estimates that paddling, climbing and mountain biking generate $83.3 million in visitor spending. If it were a national park, it would be the third most visited park in the country.

To keep the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests an amazing place for backcountry recreation, the next management plan must protect our wild and special places and ensure that trails and other recreation resources are well maintained in the next forest management plan. Here are our recommendations:

1. Protect old-growth forests and Natural Heritage Areas.

The old-growth forests of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests are hot spots of biodiversity and wonderful places to hike through and observe nature. Unfortunately, they are also very rare. Less than 1% of forests in the Eastern U.S. are believed to be in old-growth condition, but in the Blue Ridge Mountains, up to 3% may be existing old growth. Approximately 9% of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests is known to be in old-growth condition; however, not all of these rare forests are currently protected.

Our recommendation is for the Forest Service to place all of the established old-growth — plus areas identified by ecologists and conservation experts — in the Designated Old Growth Network and into protective management areas to prevent logging, as recommended under Alternative C. However, any restrictions to adding old growth stands that have yet to be identified to the Designated Network should be lifted.

Similarly, North Carolina Natural Heritage Program Natural Areas were identified by biologists with the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, and contain the best examples of natural communities, species diversity and rare species in North Carolina. These areas are very beautiful and represent the best examples of ecosystems and biological diversity in our landscape. Our recommendation is to also place these natural heritage areas in management areas where they will not be used for timber rotation, and instead be managed to restore, maintain, and enhance their natural qualities.

2. Extend Wild & Scenic Rivers protections to more of our forest’s classic paddling rivers and streams.

Western North Carolina is home to an incredible array of rivers and streams that are paddling classics and draw whitewater kayakers from around the world. However, only three streams in our region are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The Draft Plan recognizes nine additional streams as eligible for Wild and Scenic designation, bringing interim protections to a total of 12 streams across the Forest.

MountainTrue recommends that the North Fork of the French Broad River (6.5 miles); Panthertown Creek, Greenland Creek, and the East Fork of the Tuckasegee River (totaling 8.6 miles); the East and West Forks of Overflow Creek (totaling 5 miles); and nine additional miles of Fires Creek, also be found eligible for Wild and Scenic designation.

3. Expand protections to more of our wild places.

Wilderness Inventory Areas (WIAS) comprise the wildest and most remote places in Nantahala and Pisgah and, by extension, some of the wildest places in the East. WIAS were identified during this planning process because they were large (generally greater than 4,000 acres) and had very few roads. Smaller WIAs are adjacent to existing Wilderness Areas and comprise part of a larger wild landscape.

About 350,000 acres of WIAs were identified in the planning process, which is a testament to the ruggedness of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the wild character of the Nantahala and Pisgah. In the draft plan, the maximum amount of Recommended Wilderness identified from the WIAs is 126,000 acres. The remaining areas are allocated differently in the three Alternatives. MountainTrue recommends placing all Wilderness Inventory Areas into Management Areas that are “unsuitable” for timber rotation, and road construction should be limited to maintain their wild and remote character.

4. Expand and maintain the trail system and recreation infrastructure by partnering with recreation groups.

Due to lack of federal funding the Forest Service, the majority of trail maintenance these days is performed by organized, trained volunteer groups. There is huge demand for new trails and facilities but barely enough funding to maintain what already exists. That demand has resulted in the creation of an informal network of user-created “social trails” that range from informal paths which lead to places like scenic views, fishing spots, climbing areas, swimming holes, boater put-ins and other destinations to longer old roads and trails that are well-worn and well-known treads. The draft plan takes a binary approach to trail maintenance: maintaining the official trail system and shutting down user-created trails. Because the Forest Service doesn’t have the budget or resources to significantly expand the official trail system, this would cut off access to many river access points, climbing areas and beloved mountain biking trails.

Maintaining our trail system to prevent erosion is important, but MountainTrue supports a more recreation-friendly approach. We join recreation user groups in calling for a comprehensive trail inventory to see which trails are most needed by mountain bikers, horseback riders, climbers, anglers and other trail users. The Forest Service should add those priority trails to the official system, and partner with user groups to ensure that they are maintained and made sustainable.

Help us keep the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests wonderful natural places for all of us to play and enjoy the great outdoors. Comment today!


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 Great American Outdoors Act Passes The Senate, Reinvests In America’s Public Lands

The Great American Outdoors Act Passes The Senate, Reinvests In America’s Public Lands

The Great American Outdoors Act Passes The Senate, Reinvests In America’s Public Lands

Photo by Kirk Thornton on Unsplash

In a big victory for our public lands, The Great American Outdoors Act (SB 3422) was passed by the U.S. Senate on June 17 with bipartisan support and a vote of 73 yeas to 25 nays.

The bill would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million per year and allocate $9.5 billion over the next five years to address the maintenance backlogs in America’s National Parks, National Forests, and other public lands.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was established by Congress in 1964 with the purpose of investing earnings from oil and gas leases into projects that were meant to “safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.” The fund has been used for water conservation and habitat restoration projects, to support wildlife refuges, and has been accessed by local governments to fund recreation infrastructure and public parks. 

The fund has made a great impact in Western North Carolina, with money from the LWCF funding projects in every county. “[The LCWF has] purchased land for ball fields, boat launches, greenways, state parks, all the way up to the Blue Ridge Parkway and inholdings in our national forests,” says Jay Leutze, board member of the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy, as quoted in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Though the LWCF has been authorized at $900 million per year, Congress has regularly diverted these funds for other purposes. With this bill, Congress would finally put an end to that practice and fulfill the original promise of the LWCF. 

The part of the Great American Outdoors Act that is meant to specifically address the maintenance backlog for our public lands is called the National Parks and Public Lands Legacy Restoration Fund. Through the act, Congress would fill the coffers of the Legacy Restoration Fund with up to $1.9 billion for each of the next 5 years, for a total of $9.5 billion. The fund is split between the National Park Service (70% or up to $6.65 billion), the Forest Service (15% or up to $1.4 billion), the Fish and Wildlife Service (5% or up to $475 million), and the Bureau of Indian Education schools (5% or up to $475 million). The Legacy Fund is a great and necessary first step in restoring the glory of our public lands; over the next five years, it would cut the combined $20 billion backlog nearly in half. 

The Senate deserves a big round of applause for coming together across party lines to pass the Great American Outdoors Act. North Carolina’s Senators Thom Tillis and Richard Burr were both co-sponsors, as was Senator David Perdue of Georgia. Now, a companion bill is up before the House of Representatives, which is anticipated to vote on the bill in July.  


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

Stand Up Against the Asphalt Plant Proposed for East Flat Rock!

Stand Up Against the Asphalt Plant Proposed for East Flat Rock!

Stand Up Against the Asphalt Plant Proposed for East Flat Rock!

Take Action Now.

Take action today and submit your comments to the Henderson County Planning Board in opposition to the rezoning to allow construction of a dangerous and unnecessary asphalt plant in East Flat Rock.

SE Asphalt wants to build an industrial asphalt plant at the intersection of Spartanburg Highway (US-176) and US-25, across the street from a low-income mobile home park and surrounded by hundreds of single family homes, small farms, and the Green River Game Lands. The site drains directly to Laurel Creek, which flows into the Green River.

The developer has applied for conditional rezoning for 6.5 acres to a conditional district to construct the new asphalt plant. MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper and hundreds of local residents oppose this rezoning and the construction of the new asphalt plant because:

The asphalt plant is too close to residential areas, homes and businesses.
The proposed site is across the Spartanburg Highway from a mobile home park and is surrounded by residential neighborhoods. The parcel is currently zoned for Community Commercial. By seeking conditional rezoning to allow for the asphalt plant, the developer is effectively trying to rezone a site — that is bordered by residential areas — for industrial use.

A study by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) showed 45% of residents living within a half mile of a new asphalt plant reported a deterioration of their health, which began after the plant opened.

Asphalt plants are a source of harmful air pollution
Asphalt fumes are known toxins and contain pollutants such as formaldehyde, hexane, phenol, polycyclic organic matter, and toluene. Exposure to these air toxics can cause cancer, central nervous system problems, liver damage, respiratory problems, and skin irritation.

The asphalt plant could harm our natural environment
The proposed site is dangerously close to the Green River Game Land and borders the headwaters of Laurel Creek. Air pollution and water runoff of pollutants from the site would impact the Game Lands and Laurel Creek, which flows into the Green River.

The East Flat Rock asphalt plant is an environmental justice issue
The site is across the road to a low-income community that would bear the brunt of air and water pollution, dust, noise, truck traffic, and exposure to harmful toxins. Low income communities are disproportionately impacted by industrial facilities across the nation, and that’s not right.

What you can do:

1. Submit your comments to the Henderson County Planning Board and County Commissioners in opposition to the asphalt plant.

2. Attend these upcoming meetings:

3. Stay informed and get involved with the local community organizing group Friends of East Flat Rock:

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/251151092979467/about/
  • Website: https://friendsofeastflatrock.org/

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


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

Protect the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest — Our Region’s Natural Carbon Sink

Protect the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest — Our Region’s Natural Carbon Sink

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are a tremendous resource in the battle to slow climate change. A 2011 Forest Service assessment estimated that these forests store more than 72 million metric tonnes of carbon, and that number continues to rise as our forests grow.  

Help protect our publicly owned, 1.1 million acre carbon sink by taking action today!

June 29 is the deadline for public comments on the Draft Management Plan for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest. Now is our last significant chance to make our voices heard on a plan that will determine how our forests are managed for the next 15-20 years.

The Forest Service takes climate adaptation and mitigation into consideration when drafting its plan, but with your help we can make the plan even more climate friendly by:

1. Protecting old-growth forests from timbering

As trees grow they capture carbon, and they slowly release it as they die and decompose. With old-growth forests, the equation favors carbon capture. More than other forests, old-growth forests store and accumulate more carbon than they release through decomposition. That’s why we support a forest management plan with the most inclusive definition of old-growth forests and the widest protections.

The Forest Service should place all of the established old-growth — plus areas identified by ecologists and conservation experts — in the Designated Old Growth Network and into protective management areas to prevent logging, as recommended under Alternative C. However, any restrictions to adding old growth stands that have yet to be identified to the Designated Network should be lifted.

2. Defining “old growth” for more consistent forest management

The term “old growth” was coined by foresters in the early days of logging, but the lack of consensus around a single definition creates room for interpretation at the project level. It also makes building consensus among forest user interest groups, such as timber companies, recreationists, and conservationists difficult if not impossible. The forest service must not allow the lack of a single definition to endanger old-growth stands and create a pathway for increased logging. The Forest Service should set a definition in the final management plan that best protects these crucial carbon stores.

3. Mandating sustainable timbering practices

Timbering can be done in a manner that is sustainable and beneficial to the overall health of the forest. Our moist and fertile forests are resilient to timber harvest and can quickly rebound.However, if they are being grown for future timbering, whether they continue to store carbon after they’ve been cut down is a crucial question. As such, we support:

  • Our mountain forests are not suitable for commercial biomass electricity production. Though byproducts of restoration activities could be used for firewood or artisanal uses, our public forests should not be cut down just to be burned. Though, biomass energy production is not currently a concern due to the lack of a biomass wood pellet factory in our region. Limits should be placed on what types of wood could be available for biomass harvest should that change during the term of this management plan.
  • Preference should be given to timber companies that provide quality timber for furniture making, construction and other durable goods so that the wood’s carbon continues to be stored.
  • The use of specialized equipment should be required on sustained steep slopes of over 40% to guard against increasing erosion and landslides due to the effects of climate change. The type of logging methods should be outlined in the project’s environmental review documents.
  • Unused forest roads in backcountry areas should be decommissioned or repurposed for trails. This would help prevent erosion and sediment pollution and extreme flooding in forest rivers and streams due to the heavier rains and storms brought on by climate change.

4. Protecting our forests and vulnerable species from the effects of climate change

To ensure the long-term health of our forests and the native species that call the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests their home, the Forest Service should strengthen their climate adaptation. This includes:

  • Increasing the number of streams occupied by native brook trout in the highest elevation, highest flow cold water streams to compensate for losses in other warmer streams.
  • Increased use of controlled burns to reduce forest density and prevent larger wildfires that would damage native habitats and reduce our carbon stores.
  • Because non-native invasive plant species (NNIPS) spread in part due to our warming climate and land disturbances such as timbering, the plan should include an objective that all new harvest units and associated roads (including a 100-foot buffer) should be monitored for new infestations of priority NNIS and treated, if found. Also, the Forest Service should include a desired condition that priority NNIS are not spreading.
  • Habitat connectivity should be maintained and increased for migratory species and species whose habitat may shift due to climate change

Do your part to fight climate change: help protect the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests and ensure that they remain healthy and effective carbon sinks for our region.

Comment below or check out our Forest Plan Resource page for our full analysis of the entire Draft Forest Management Plan.


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.

Trump Uses Crises to Attack The Environment — Take Action!

Trump Uses Crises to Attack The Environment — Take Action!

Trump Uses Crises to Attack The Environment — Take Action!

Our country is in the midst of two historic crises, the COVID-19 pandemic and a watershed moment in the fight against racist policing and the murder of George Floyd and other people of color. Instead of trying to bring people together, President Trump is exploiting a disease that has already killed more than 100,000 Americans and a moment of national grief to pursue his radical pro-pollution environmental agenda.

Stand up to Donald Trump’s abuse of power.

On June 4, Trump signed an executive order that uses the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to allow federal agencies to ignore regulations like the National Environmental Policy Act on projects like pipelines, new highways and mines during the crisis. At the same time, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a new rule that would circumvent the Clean Air Act by letting the agency undervalue public health in their cost-benefit analyses.

Trump cited “emergency authorities” to sign his executive order but his radical anti-environmental agenda benefits corporate polluters at the expense of the public, especially poor people and communities of color. When communities are displaced by highway projects or a new pipeline is constructed, it’s almost always the homes of poor people that are destroyed and communities of color that are negatively impacted.

Similarly, Trump’s EPA is trying to change the rules so that they can ignore the wider health benefits of keeping our air clean of mercury and asthma and lung disease-causing pollutants such as PM 2.5 — this despite a recent nationwide study linking long-term exposure to PM 2.5 to higher death rates from COVID-19.

It’s time for our members of Congress to denounce Trump’s authoritarian abuses and his radical anti-environmental agenda. Tell Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis and your member of the House that it’s time to stand up to Donald Trump.


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

Stand Up Against the Asphalt Plant Proposed for East Flat Rock!

Asphalt Plant Proposed For East Flat Rock!

Asphalt Plant Proposed For East Flat Rock!

STAND UP, SPEAK OUT!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what we need you to do:

    •  

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


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

It’s time for Congress to invest in clean water!

It’s time for Congress to invest in clean water!

Join MountainTrue in calling for Congress to triple its annual appropriations for the Clean Water State Revolving Funds from $2 billion to $6 billion and explore additional investments in our nation’s drinking water and sewer infrastructure.

Submit a letter by filling out the form below. We encourage you to personalize it by telling your members of Congress about your own connection to the river.

With the Water Quality Act of 1987, the US Congress established the Clean Water State Revolving Funds (CWSRF) to provide sustainable, long-term financial assistance to support communities’ stormwater and drinking water needs. Since its inception, the CWSRFs have provided a total of $151.2 billion (as of 2018) in financial assistance — but this has only met a small fraction of what our nation needs in order to have modern water infrastructure.

The EPA has estimated a current price tag of $745 billion dollars in needed infrastructure repairs — $271 billion of which is needed to fix sewage and stormwater systems. And that doesn’t include what it will cost to adapt our water infrastructure to the challenge of climate change — an additional $448-944 billion.

North Carolina has enormous need for stormwater infrastructure repairs to keep our waterways clean, but very few of them are funded. North Carolina receives only around $25 million per year from the fund, but last year alone, there were $638.8 million in requests.

To fix the source of our region’s water pollution problem, more federal funding is a key piece of the puzzle. By directing billions in new funding to fix water infrastructure, Congress can create new green jobs, protect our rivers, and help preserve recreation-based economies all at once. Our Representatives can do this by tripling annual appropriations for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, as well as including new funding for drinking water and sewer infrastructure in future stimulus bills, infrastructure bills and budgets.
Will you call on your Congressional Representatives to support new stormwater investments for North Carolina?


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

Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

Join Us For A Madison County-wide Bioblitz, June 6-20

From June 6 to June 20 naturalists, kids, students, hunters, fishers, scholars and area residents are invited to log their observation in a new county project

Madison County, NC — Madison Natural Heritage, a natural history program of the Madison County Public Library System, and local conservation organization, MountainTrue are hosting a virtual Madison County Bioblitz — an ambitious two-week long biological inventory of the organisms living in Madison County that will take place from June 6-20. To register, visit: https://madisonnaturalheritage.org/2020-bioblitz/

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, all participants are urged to practice safe social distancing by surveying alone or with family members or other people with whom they have been in isolation. People should comply with all remaining public lands and trail closures.

“This is a perfect time to do something good, be together while apart, get outside and into your own backyards and nearby natural areas and start taking stock of this incredible place where we live. Madison County is one of the most unique counties in the state.” explains Pete Dixon, a Madison County Public Library Trustee. “With digital technology and the citizen-science movement, it is easy for anyone to get involved and make meaningful contributions to the body of scientific knowledge. And it’s a perfect chance to get kids off of their screens and out into nature.”

“MountainTrue has organized a bioblitz every year since 2016,” said MountainTrue Biologist and Madison County native Josh Kelly. “Bioblitzes are great opportunities for regular people and experts alike to learn more about the natural world. We are thrilled to support and partner with Madison Natural Heritage on this project to document and celebrate the natural diversity of Madison County. Now, more than ever, people need fun, safe ways to get outdoors, and this event is perfect for that.”

Over the two week period from June 6-20, naturalists, kids, students, hunters, fishers, scholars and all area residents are invited to explore their neighborhoods, nearby forests and open public lands and document the species they find using the iNaturalist smartphone app and website (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/madison-county-2020-bioblitz) and to post their discoveries to social media using the hashtag #madcobioblitz. To learn more and register for the Blitz, visit: (click here)

A spined soldier bug identified at MountainTrue’s 2019 Bioblitz in Nantahala Gorge. Photo by Rhys Burns, courtesy of MountainTrue.

“Madison County’s biological diversity is extreme,” says Dixon. “Biologists have been attempting to document the great number of plants and animals living here for generations, yet more discoveries turn up all the time. A recent example is the discovery of a Variegated Meadowhawk Dragonfly [picture and caption included in the media kit] in the Murray Branch area. The Meadowhawk is common in the Mississippi Valley, but had never before been documented in the North Carolina mountains.”

Madison Natural Heritage is a public library project that is intended to engage students, scholars and citizens and to collect and archive data about our rich and cherished natural world in Madison County. More than that, this project will preserve the natural history of Madison County as an interactive digital natural history museum.

Peggy Goforth, the library administrative manager, who was instrumental in starting the project has said, “Because Madison County is so special and unique, it is critical that we instill in our children the knowledge to preserve and maintain this beautiful place that we love and call home.”

MountainTrue is a regional conservation nonprofit that champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities. The organization’s members and volunteers work to protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all. MountainTrue is active in the Broad, French Broad, Green, Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, New and Watauga watersheds, and is home to the Broad Riverkeeper, French Broad Riverkeeper, Green Riverkeeper and Watauga Riverkeeper. More info at mountaintrue.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.

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

Protect the Waters of Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest

The Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests are the headwaters of seven major river systems, providing drinking water for millions of people in four southeastern states and wildlife habitat for a bewildering array of native species.

Unfortunately, the current draft plan is inadequate in a few very important ways when it comes to water quality protections and we need you to speak up. The deadline for public comments is June 29 and this is our last significant chance to have our say. You can comment more than once.

The draft plan proposes less stream protection for the Nantahala-Pisgah than other Southern Appalachian National Forests such as the Chattahoochee, the Cherokee, and the Jefferson. While the 100-foot buffer on perennial streams is good, the draft plan only affords intermittent streams a 15-foot buffer, and provides no protection at all for ephemeral streams — the type of streams that make up the very beginning of the watershed networks we depend on.

Compare this to Cherokee National Forest, across the border in Tennessee, which has a default riparian buffer of 100 feet on perennial streams, 50 feet on intermittent streams and 25 feet on ephemeral streams. Cherokee National Forest also allows buffers to be increased to 264 feet in areas with steeper slopes.

These buffers prevent streams from being degraded, provide shade, and reduce sediment pollution and habitat damage due to timber harvesting, road building and other development. When these protective buffers are removed, water temperatures increase and sediment makes its way into streams and rivers suffocating aquatic habitats — reducing populations of species such as trout, freshwater mussels and hellbenders.

Learn More About Our Forest Waters

On April 28, MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director Callie Moore hosted a live webinar to explore water quality issues in the draft management plan.

Water quality protections for the Nantahala and Pisgah should meet or exceed the water quality protections given for other Southern Appalachian National Forests so that our forest streams are protected from road building, skid trails, log loading areas, waste disposal and other ground disturbing activities.

Additionally, watersheds classified by the state as Outstanding Resource Waters are determined to have excellent water quality and exceptional ecological or recreational significance. There are nine ORW watersheds within Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests and they should be named and protected in the plan.

This Forest Management Plan will set priorities and protections for the 1,200 miles of streams and rivers of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests for the next 15-20 years, and this is our last significant chance to make our voices heard.

Please take action for clean water today. 

Comment below or checkout our our Forest Plan Resource page for our full analysis of the entire Draft Forest Management Plan.

 


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.