Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Check Out Our New Oriental Bittersweet Invasive Plant Coloring Sheet

Our COVID-19 Activities Guide is chock-full of resources to help you keep learning and protecting our public lands. A recent addition is a series of coloring sheets featuring non-native invasive plants that you can print and color at home. Each sheet will have a short history on how that plant was introduced to our region and tips in identification and eradication.

Oriental Bittersweet

Update: We’ve just released our second coloring sheet, for Oriental Bittersweet. As a vine, the Oriental Bittersweet strangles trees and grows in both full sun and shade, making it a threat in any forest or suburban yard. It produces a prodigious annual seed crop which is eaten and spread. The fruits are often used in autumn wreath making, which furthers their spread.

Oriental bittersweet vines often appear spotted, and circle up anything they can climb. Its leaves are alternately arranged, and round with rounded teeth and usually a pointed tip. Its berries are bright orange-red which burst out of their yellow casing in the fall.

The first step for eradication is to cut this vine off of trees to prevent their being strangled and to bag and dispose of any berries. This vine responds well to chemical treatment, but can be pulled if done carefully and with follow ups each spring to check for new sprouts.

 

Multiflora Rose

The first of the series is the prickly Multiflora Rose. A native species of Japan, China and Korea, Multiflora Rose was introduced to North America as an ornamental rose that was once seen as an attractive living fence for livestock. Now we know it is an incredibly damaging invasive plant that has invaded our public lands. It spreads quickly (each plant can produce hundreds of thousands of seeds in a single season), forms dense, impenetrable thickets, and crowds out native plant species.

Like most roses, Multiflora Rose has green to red stems and compound leaves with delicately toothed leaflets. To differentiate from native roses, look for sharp, downward-hooked thorns, and “eyelashes” at the base of the leaves.

To get rid of them, Multiflora Rose can be dug out, or cut down as long as sprouts are pulled each spring. They also responds well to chemical treatment.

Thank you to Hendersonville native Sarah Ray for providing the art. 


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.

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

Get to Know Your (Other) Neighbors with the Asheville Tree Map

by Rhys Burns, AmeriCorps Forest Keeper Coordinator

Western North Carolina is well known for our beautiful forests, but the city of Asheville has slowly been losing tree cover over the years. Thankfully, there are lots of projects underway to try to protect our precious urban trees! One such endeavor is the Asheville Tree Map, an app that allows folks to map the trees in their neighborhood and city, and monitor changes in urban tree density.

So far the app has hundreds if not thousands of trees mapped, and provided hundreds of Ashevillians with a chance to get to know a different kind of neighbor. The app also helps convey the value of our urban forest by estimating ecosystem benefits provided by each tree, such as gallons of stormwater filtered each year. The Asheville Tree Map is an initiative of the City’s Tree Commission. Bob Gale, MountainTrue’s Public Lands Ecologist, served on the Asheville Tree Commission for nine years.

A screen shot from the app shows the ability to select a tree (the little green dots) and easily view its species. Clicking on the banner at the bottom will then show any further recorded information, such as size or date planted.

This large hickory is estimated to save $224 per year- now think about all the trees in town!

 He was part of the push for the app, and remembers, “Asheville’s Arborist, Mark Foster, asked our Commission if there was a way we could start inspecting and inventorying the city trees. He had neither the capacity nor budget to go beyond simply maintaining, pruning and replacing street trees. Serendipitously, we learned of this tree app that Philadelphia was using and after some researching and tweaking we made it happen in Asheville. Getting the public engaged through the app makes the task seem less overwhelming and also empowers residents to help protect our urban forest.”

While the app has some really cool functionality, it only works if people contribute information. There are many thousands of trees in Asheville that aren’t yet mapped- meaning they can’t be monitored for changes in our overall canopy. You can help this effort by marking the trees around you, and it’s a great chance to get to know your botanical neighbors during this time of social distancing. On your next neighborhood stroll, give it a shot!

Find the app on Google Play or the Apple App Store. Registration in the app requires an email address.


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.

Introducing Topic-Specific Info Sessions on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Management Plan

Introducing Topic-Specific Info Sessions on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Management Plan

Introducing Topic-Specific Info Sessions on the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Management Plan

MountainTrue will kick off our series of topic-specific info sessions on the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Management Plan on Tuesday, April 28 with a deep dive into water quality issues in the draft plan.

Our hope is that these sessions will answer any lingering questions about how topics you care about will be addressed in the new forest management plan, and will help you craft your own public comment to improve the plan.

Register at the links below to access the webinars and submit questions to our speakers in advance. Each session will begin at 5:30pm and last one hour, including time for questions and answers.

Update: Did you miss our April 7 info session where we provided a broad overview of the draft management plan? Good news! Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly will be doing a reprise in association with the Public Policy Network of WNC and North Georgia on May 3, 4:00-5:30. Josh will give an overview of MountainTrue’s perspective on the draft Nantahala Pisgah Forest Management Plan and provide tips and information about how the public can positively influence the final version. The webinar is free of charge and you do not have to be a member of PPN to register for the webinar. 


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 50 Years of Earth Day with MountainTrue

Celebrate 50 Years of Earth Day with MountainTrue

Celebrate 50 Years of Earth Day with MountainTrue

As social creatures, we need to maintain our connections and find new ways to lean on each other during hard times. As creatures of nature, we need to connect with our forests, our rivers and the plants and animals we share this planet with. Today more than ever, we appreciate how important clean water and healthy forests are to our mountain communities.

Hikers like to say, ‘the trail gives you what you need’. I’ve experienced that personally and watched it play out in the lives of others. So regardless of whether you are looking for community, solitude, a challenge, stillness, simplicity, therapy, inspiration, resilience, or reassurance… there’s a good chance you’ll find it in the woods.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

Owner, Blue Ridge Hiking Company and 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year

But our forests and rivers would not have been the wonderful sanctuaries Jennifer describes had they not been protected by people like you. Together, we have built a legacy of action to be proud of. You stopped timber companies from clearcutting in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. You kept the pressure on Duke Energy until they were ordered to clean up their coal ash pits and move their toxic ash to lined landfills where they will no longer pollute our rivers.

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

The fight to protect the health of our forests, rivers, and mountain communities is more important than ever. We ask that you donate today so we can continue to protect the places we share.

Happy 50th Earth Day, and 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.

​It may have started with a bat in a cave, but human activity set it loose

​It may have started with a bat in a cave, but human activity set it loose

​It may have started with a bat in a cave, but human activity set it loose.
– David Quammen

COVID-19 is a wakeup call. This pandemic is testing our health systems, government institutions, and civil society in an unprecedented manner. The immediate costs — in lives losts, to our economy, and to people’s livelihoods — are staggering.

Though this disease is new and especially contagious, it is not unique. COVID-19 is among a growing number of animal-borne viruses, bacteria, parasites and other pathogens on the rise due to the twin threats of habitat destruction and climate change. Research conducted more than a decade ago showed as much as 60% of new diseases between 1960 and 2004 came from animals.

​The destruction of natural habitats is a key contributor to the spread of new and existing diseases. As human development encroaches on forests and other natural habitats, people come into greater contact with animals and are at greater risk for catching the diseases they carry.

Similarly, human development, resource extraction and climate change can reduce biodiversity. In the natural world, the most diverse ecosystems are the healthiest, having intricately woven webs of species balancing one another. When those webs are torn, the species most likely to carry and spread disease — such as rats and bats — thrive. Meanwhile, climate change is making our region warmer and wetter, and waterborne and mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue fever, Zika virus, chagas disease and malaria are moving north.

Support Our Healthy Ecosystems

​You can protect our mountain region. With your support, we can protect our forest and aquatic habitats.

These diseases are seen as exotic and foreign, but the same conditions of habitat destruction, degradation of biodiversity and increased human-wildlife interaction are happening right here in our mountain region. Tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, alpha-gal syndrome, and ehrlichiosis are spreading in our region. Studies have documented growth in tick populations when forests are broken up and the number and diversity of species are reduced.

COVID-19 is an immediate threat, and we encourage our members to find ways to directly support our communities and our neighbors now. But we are also asking you to continue to invest in our environment, our communities and to help do your part to prevent the next pandemic.

When you support MountainTrue, you power:

  • a Public Lands Team hard at work ensuring a management plan for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests that protects our natural carbon sinks, reduces habitat destruction, and promotes biodiversity.
  • a Land-Use Team that promotes smart growth and community planning so that our continued growth doesn’t come at the expense of our environment.
  • Four Riverkeepers and a Western Region Clean Waters Team that work to reduce urban and agricultural pollution, minimizing levels of E. coli and other harmful pathogens in our rivers and streams, and
  • an Energy Team that has successfully fought to move our region away from coal and is helping to lead us toward a renewable energy future.

The fight to protect the health of our forests, rivers, and mountain communities is more important than ever. We ask that you donate today so that we can continue to protect the places we share.

Thank you for standing with us in this time of uncertainty.


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.

Have Your Say In How Our Forests Are Managed

Have Your Say In How Our Forests Are Managed

Have Your Say In How Our Forests Are Managed

The Forest Service is accepting public comment on the draft forest management plan for all 1.045 million acres of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests — a plan that will set priorities and protections for the next 15-20 years of these public lands. This current comment period is our last meaningful chance to provide input on how these public lands are managed.

MountainTrue has set up a resource page with analysis of the plan, tips for providing effective comments, and a portal for you to submit comments and make your voice heard at mountaintrue.org/forestplancomment 

These forests belong to all of us. Let’s make sure they are managed for the benefit of all forest users, our environment and future generations.

ICYMI: Watch Our Forest Plan Info Session

Nearly one hundred people joined us on the evening of April 7 for our live online info session on the draft forest management plan for the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests. During the session, our Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly presented MountainTrue’s analysis of the draft plan and took questions from the audience. If you missed the webinar, you can watch it on YouTube.

The info session was emceed by MountainTrue Public Engagement Manager Susan Bean, and the Q&A segment was moderated by Western Regional Director Callie Moore. We were fortunate to be joined by Alice Cohen of the U.S. Forest Service, who kicked off the webinar with a brief overview of the forest management planning process. 

Stay tuned for future forest plan info sessions where we’ll dive into specific regions and topics such as water quality and recreation infrastructure.


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Things You Can Do Right Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Let’s be good neighbors.


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

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

Join Us At A Forest Management Plan Comment Party

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

Public Lands Team Experiments on Invasive Species

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Draft Pisgah-Nantahala Forest Management Plan Released

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Public Lands Team Experiments On Invasive Species

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Asheville Hearing On Duke Rate Hike Proposal Feb. 20

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

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

 

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

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

 

City Of Asheville Committee Vacancies

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

 

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

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

High Country Regional News

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

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

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

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

 

MountainTrue Is Hiring A High Country Water Quality Administrator

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

 

Hidden Rivers Of Southern Appalachia Film Coming To Banner Elk

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

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Green Drinks Finds A New Home At Appalachian Coffee Company

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

Western Regional News

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

Listening Session Held For Western Region Partners

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

Watershed Gala Reservations Due Feb 20


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

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

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


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

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

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHECK OUT THE FULL EVENTS CALENDAR


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