- 
Arabic
 - 
ar
Bengali
 - 
bn
German
 - 
de
English
 - 
en
French
 - 
fr
Hindi
 - 
hi
Indonesian
 - 
id
Portuguese
 - 
pt
Russian
 - 
ru
Spanish
 - 
es
ACTION: Tell NCDEQ to Extend the Public Comment Period and Hold a Public Hearing on the Draft Clear Creek Sewer Permit

ACTION: Tell NCDEQ to Extend the Public Comment Period and Hold a Public Hearing on the Draft Clear Creek Sewer Permit

ACTION: Tell NCDEQ to Extend the Public Comment Period and Hold a Public Hearing on the Draft Clear Creek Sewer Permit

The NC Department of Environmental Quality has issued a draft permit for a new Clear Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) discharge. This is a component of a plan to extend sewer service east to the Edneyville area. As it stands, public comment on this draft will close on October 12 with no public hearing. 

Through Henderson County’s 2045 Comprehensive Plan development period, growth in the county’s most rural areas, loss of farmland and open space, and impacts to natural resources have been of highest concern to the public. While a sewer extension might address some issues of failing septic systems, failing sewer package plants, and public sewer for the last remaining school in the County without this utility, questions remain around a new wastewater treatment plant and discharge to Clear Creek being the best solution. Clear Creek is already listed as impaired on the state’s 303(d) list of impaired streams, and a new source of pollution is cause for concern. 

Undoubtedly, sewer extensions have benefits and consequences – the public needs time to adequately review this project and the impacts it will have on responsible community growth and public health. Henderson County’s Comprehensive Plan has yet to be adopted, and granting a wastewater treatment discharge permit when future land use decisions are still being made, without extensive public comment opportunities is irresponsible.

The numerous concerns regarding a new wastewater discharge system in one of the county’s most rural areas warrant a public hearing and extension of public comment period. We need you to tell NCDEQ to extend the public comment period and hold a public hearing on this draft permit. Take action below.

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

Breaking News: A draft conference report of the state budget released to the media includes language that would prohibit counties (§ 153A-145.11) and cities (§ 160A-205.6) from passing ordinances, resolutions, or rules that would restrict, tax, or charge a fee on auxiliary containers — the definition of which includes bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging.

This language would preempt local control and undermine existing provisions of the NC Solid Waste Management Act that give counties and cities the authority to ban single-use plastic bags and other forms of packaging and the use of plastic foam (e.g., styrofoam) in foodware.

Plastic pollution is a threat to our environment and to the health of North Carolina residents. Email your legislators and let them know that our right to protect ourselves from dangerous pollutants is too important to be traded away to fossil fuel and retail industry lobbyists in backroom deals.

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Language in NC Budget Would Strip Local Governments’ Ability to Pass Plastic Bag Bans and Other Waste Reduction Efforts to Protect Environment, Public Health, Landfills and Recycling Centers

Media Contacts: 

Karim Olaechea, Deputy Director of Strategy & Communications at MountainTrue
(828) 400-0768, karim@mountaintrue.org

Katie Craig, State Director at NCPIRG
kcraig@ncpirg.org 

Ken Brame, President of the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group
(828) 423-8045,kenbrame10@gmail.com

Michelle B. Nowlin, Co-Director at Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
(919) 613-8502, nowlin@law.duke.edu 

For Immediate Release

Raleigh, September 19 — A draft conference report of the state budget released to the media includes language that would prohibit counties (§ 153A-145.11) and cities (§ 160A-205.6) from passing ordinances, resolutions, or rules that would restrict, tax, or charge a fee on auxiliary containers — the definition of which includes bags, cups, bottles, and other packaging. 

This language would preempt local control and undermine existing provisions of the NC Solid Waste Management Act that give counties and cities the authority to ban single-use plastic bags and other forms of packaging and the use of plastic foam (e.g., styrofoam) in foodware. The inclusion of the preemption in the budget comes as both Asheville and Durham are considering ordinances to reduce plastic pollution, and the towns of Woodfin and Black Mountain have passed resolutions in support of a Buncombe County-wide ordinance. In 2021, Wilmington also passed a resolution encouraging the reduction of plastic waste.

Efforts to reduce plastic waste are popular among citizens and businesses. A survey from the City of Asheville received nearly 7,000 resident responses and showed support at 80%. Among 57 businesses surveyed in the Asheville area, there was widespread support for a waste reduction ordinance banning single-use plastic bags, plastic takeout containers, and styrofoam products.

The following are statements from representatives of organizations working to reduce plastic pollution: 

Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper (a program of MountainTrue):
“Plastic pollution is a threat to our environment and the health of North Carolina residents. Our right to protect ourselves from dangerous pollutants is too important to be traded away to fossil fuel and retail industry lobbyists in backroom deals. We urge our elected officials to remove any such language and pass a clean budget.” 

Sarah Ogletree, Director of the Creation Care Alliance of WNC (a program of MountainTrue):
“This ban is about loving our neighbors—protecting the air and water we all need to survive and thrive. The General Assembly should not prevent us from living our faith by caring for God’s creation.” 

Katie Craig, State Director of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group:
“Plastic waste threatens our health, environment, and communities. Our cities and counties often bear the impacts of our plastic waste problem, from managing recycling and landfill facilities to cleaning up litter in our parks and waterways. So, they should have a say in how their communities address the problem too. By preempting local authority to regulate single-use plastic bags, this provision threatens to undermine the ability of cities and counties in North Carolina to take meaningful steps towards sustainability, environmental protection, and the wishes of their own communities.”

Ken Brame, President of the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group:
At a time when we are seeing record heat waves and flooding due to Climate Change, why would the NC General Assembly prevent local governments from reducing carbon-intensive plastic bags? Microplastics from plastic bags are being ingested and are becoming a health risk.  The General Assembly should care more about the health of its citizens than the profits of the plastic industry.”

Susannah Knox, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center:
“This is a short-sighted attempt to take control from local governments trying to serve their communities by protecting public health and cleaning up their streets and creeks. Citizens and businesses across the state have expressed overwhelming support for reducing plastic pollution, and politicians in the General Assembly should not stand in their way.”

If you or your organization, club, or business would like to voice their support for a Plastic-Free WNC, please contact karim@mountaintrue.org

 

# # # 

ACTION: Stop the NCGA from Stripping Local Governments of Authority to Fight Plastic Pollution

Take Action! Sept. 19: Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County

Take Action! Sept. 19: Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County

It’s time for Buncombe County to act.

Join MountainTrue, the Sierra Club’s Western North Carolina Group, the N.C. Public Interest Research Group, and the Creation Care Alliance for a rally to call on Buncombe County Commissioners to take action to protect the public and the environment from plastic pollution. The rally will begin at 4 p.m. and will feature a very exclusive appearance by our very own French Broad Mermaid, rousing remarks, and a prayer vigil led by Sarah Ogletree, Director of the Creation Care Alliance. Wear blue to show that you support a Plastic-Free WNC. 

Plastic-Free WNC Rally at Buncombe County
Tuesday, September 19
Rally at 4 p.m. | Commissioners Meeting at 5 p.m
200 College Street, Suite 300
Asheville, NC 28801

On Monday, September 11, Town Commissioners in Black Mountain unanimously (with one absence) approved a resolution calling on Buncombe County to pass an ordinance that would ban single-use plastic shopping bags at the checkout aisle and styrofoam takeout containers. With the passage of this resolution, Black Mountain has become the second municipality within Buncombe County to call on County Commissioners to fulfill their obligation under the North Carolina Solid Waste Management Act to reduce plastic pollution. The Town of Woodfin passed a similar resolution by a vote of 5-1 on August 15, 2023.

Now it’s time for Buncombe County to fulfill its obligation under the NC Solid Waste Management Act to pass a common-sense law to reduce plastic pollution. 

Can’t make it to the rally? Email Buncombe County Commissioners and ask them to take action to reduce plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution is a global problem, and we must act locally to do our part.

That’s why MountainTrue is advocating for a county-wide ban on single-use plastic bags and styrofoam at grocery and retail store checkout counters paired with a 10-cent fee on paper bags. More than 500 local governments in 28 states across the country have already passed such laws to reduce plastic pollution. If we want Buncombe County to be next, we need to show them that we have broad support.

The Plastic-Free WNC ordinance would:

  • Ban the use of plastic shopping bags and styrofoam cups by fast-food restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers.

  • Charge a 10¢ fee for recyclable paper bags (made from 40% post-consumer waste) that is collected by the business.

  • Exempt customers using EBT, SNAP, and WIC from paying the 10¢ fee.

  • Encourage businesses to provide plastic straws by request only.

 

Facts About Our Ban on Single-Use Plastics

Microplastics are a dangerous emerging contaminant.
Plastics don’t biodegrade; they break down into smaller and smaller pieces of microplastic that stay in our environment for thousands of years.

These microscopic pieces of plastic waste are everywhere.
We all breathe/consume approximately one credit card’s worth of microplastics every week. Microplastics have been found in the human placenta and breast milk.

Plastic production generates as much CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) gas as 116 coal-fired power plants.
As of 2020, the US plastics industry was responsible for at least 232 million tons of CO2e gas emissions per year, which is the equivalent of 116 average-sized (500-megawatt) coal-fired power plants (Beyond Plastics: The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change, 2021).

Plastic production is ramping up and much of it is for the purpose of creating wasteful, single-use plastics. 
42% of plastic production is for single-use packaging (Science Advances: Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastic Ever Made, 2017). Half of all plastics created were produced in the last 15 years (NRDC: Single-Use Plastic 101, 2020).

Plastic films account for 40% of the microplastics found in the French Broad River.
MountainTrue has conducted widespread microplastic sampling throughout the French Broad Watershed. On average, we’ve found 15.5 pieces of microplastic per 1-liter sample of water, with some samples as high as 40 or 50 pieces per liter. The most common type of microplastics in the French Broad River is films (39.5%), the sources of which are plastic bags, food packaging, and candy wrappers.

Plastics are harmful to human health.
Plastics contain 7% chemical additives on average. Researchers suspect these chemicals contribute to reproductive health problems and declining sperm counts in Western countries. Phthalates, used to enhance the durability of plastic products, are found in personal care products, food packaging, children’s toys, shower curtains, and more. These chemical additives disrupt the endocrine system and harm the reproductive and nervous systems.

Styrofoam contains a likely carcinogen that leaches into food, drinks, and water supplies.
Styrene is used to make styrofoam cups, food containers, and disposable coolers, and leaches into the food and drinks they hold and from landfills into drinking water. It’s classified as a likely human carcinogen that causes liver, kidney, and circulatory problems.

A ban on single-use plastic bags in Buncombe County would have significant environmental benefits.
A ban on single-use plastic bags paired with a 10-cent fee on paper bags would reduce Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions by 43%, fossil fuel consumption by 86%, solid waste by 66%, greenhouse gas emissions by 83%, fresh water consumption by 32%, and energy use by 73.3% compared to plastic. Read more about the environmental benefits of our proposed ordinance here.

Our plastic bag ban would not be overly burdensome for people with lower incomes.
Our proposed ordinance would exempt customers using EBT, SNAP, and WIC from paying the 10-cent fee on paper bags. Even without that exception, the average cost to Buncombe County consumers would only be $3.33 per year, and customers can reduce or eliminate those costs by bringing reusable bags to the store.

Buncombe County has the legal authority to pass a plastic bag ban under the North Carolina Solid Waste Management Act.
The NC Solid Waste Management Act asserts that it’s North Carolina’s policy to prioritize waste reduction at the source and mandates that towns, cities, and counties implement programs and other actions to address deficiencies and “protect human health and the environment.” Because the presence of a pollutant that is harmful to human health and the environment has been documented in our region, the law mandates that local governments act.

2023 Volunteer of the Year and Esther Cunningham Award Winners

2023 Volunteer of the Year and Esther Cunningham Award Winners

2023 Volunteer of the Year and Esther Cunningham Award Winners

Every year, MountainTrue recognizes five individuals from across the Southern Blue Ridge as our regional Volunteer of the Year and Esther Cunningham award winners. We look forward to celebrating these exceptional MountainTrue volunteers at our Annual Member Gathering on Saturday, October 14, 2023 at Devil’s Foot Beverage Co in Asheville, NC.

High Country Volunteer of the Year: Marta Toran

Originally from Spain, Marta has made the High Country her home for the past 16 years. She teaches environmental science, oceanography, and climate change courses in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Appalachian State University. She also coordinates the department’s outreach program, which supports K12 STEM education across Western North Carolina and promotes environmental stewardship among students by connecting them with local organizations. Her students regularly participate in habitat restoration, native plant removal, and water sampling efforts organized by the Watauga Riverkeeper. Marta also helps students become certified as North Carolina Environmental Educators. She has been awarded grants from organizations like the EPA to help educate people about natural resources and how to protect them. She’s proud to see her students get involved in the community through environmental advocacy organizations like MountainTrue, especially when they bring friends along with them. She also hopes that one day, North Carolina will catch up to Europe in environmental regulations forbidding the use of single-use plastic and regarding other measures to reduce plastic waste and encourage recycling. Thanks for all you do to make the High Country a better place, Marta! 

Central Region Volunteer of the Year: Elizabeth Porter

Elizabeth moved to the Asheville area ten years ago from her hometown in Northeast Florida to take a position teaching environmental economics at UNCA. She knew when she arrived in the area that she also wanted to find “her people.” Having been an active volunteer with the St. Johns Riverkeeper, she began volunteering for Western North Carolina Alliance (the organization that would later become MountainTrue) and French Broad Riverkeeper events. Her years spent canoeing in Florida translated into a particular affinity for river cleanups and all of the interesting things and people to be found on the river. Elizabeth is currently in her second year teaching sustainability and environmental policy in the Department of Business Administration at Mars Hill University. When she’s not on campus, there’s a good chance you’ll find her out on her stand-up paddleboard on French Broad Section 9.

Western Region Volunteer of the Year: Jonathan Micancin

Jonathan Micancin earned his Ph.D. at UNC Chapel Hill and is an Assistant Professor of Biology at Young Harris College, where he teaches courses in conservation biology, ecology, environmental science, and related topics. Since coming to Young Harris in 2019, Jonathan has taken the lead on MountainTrue’s Corn Creek Riparian Restoration Project. He has involved his students in all aspects of the work, organizing volunteer workdays to remove nonnative invasive plants and plant native ones in the streamside corridor. Last fall, he began working with Young Harris College to replace its landscaping with native trees and shrubs, again having his students create the plans and help implement them. They bought many plants through our Fall Native Tree & Shrub sale fundraiser. Jonathan and his students also study the behavioral ecology, evolution, and conservation of cryptic amphibians. They discovered the decline of southern cricket frogs in the Southeast, extended the known range of Collinses’ mountain chorus frog in Georgia, and are currently studying rare and imperiled Appalachian salamanders. Thanks so much for all you do to conserve Southern Appalachian biodiversity and support MountainTrue’s work, Jonathan!

Southern Region Volunteer of the Year: Michael Cheng

Michael Cheng (pictured above) is no stranger to the Broad River, as he frequently joins Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell for river cleanups, races, and other events. In fact, Michael and his wife, Patsy, were two of the wonderful sponsors of the 8th Annual Sarah Sweep and First Broad River Festival, which took place on September 9 in Shelby, NC. As David has said, “Supporters like Michael help make our work possible; the Broad River is cleaner and healthier because of Michael and his enthusiasm for its wellbeing! Michael, MountainTrue is grateful for you and all you do to support the Broad Riverkeeper in protecting the Broad River Watershed!” 

Last fall, Broad River enthusiast Michael Cheng, several volunteers, and Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell were joined by the Voices of Deoli film crew while cleaning up a section of the First Broad River. Cinematographer Oxana Onipko filmed the cleanup as part of the Voices of Deoli feature film, which shares the stories of Deoli Internment Camp survivors, including Michael Cheng. We encourage folks to support the Voices of Deoli crew by checking out their website, learning about the project, and following Voices of Deoli on Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Michael by reading his interview here.

The 2023 Esther Cunningham Award Winner: Jane Laping

This award is given each year in honor of one of our organization’s founders, Esther Cunningham. Esther bravely stood in the face of opposition, rallied her community to stand with her, and tirelessly fought to protect and defend the forests of Western North Carolina. 

Jane co-founded MountainTrue’s faith-based program, the Creation Care Alliance (CCA, formerly called WNC Green Congregations), in 2012 and has served on the Steering Team ever since. Earlier this year, she filled in as Interim Coordinator while CCA Director Sarah Ogletree was on maternity leave for 14 weeks. Additionally, Jane has been the Creation Care Team lead at First Presbyterian Church in Asheville since 2010. 

Jane volunteered in various roles with Presbyterians for Earth Care (PEC), a national eco-justice network that connects, equips, and inspires Presbyterians to make creation care a central concern of the church. She currently serves as PEC’s Vice Moderator. In 2007, she wrote Earth Care Congregations, a certification program for Presbyterian Churches that was adopted by the Presbyterian Church (USA). There are now ~300 certified Earth Care Congregations in the US incorporating creation care in their worship, education, facilities, and outreach.

Jane worked as the first community organizer and Executive Director of Mothers for Clean Air in Houston, TX — a nonprofit that worked to reduce air pollution, especially as it affects children. She organized and collaborated with members of marginalized communities to measure air pollution levels, speak out against industries that polluted their neighborhoods, and engage with elected officials. Jane also worked with a theater artist to develop Ozone Theater — a program to educate children about color codes for ozone warnings — which won a national award from the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Jane is currently working with the Plastic Free WNC coalition. She recently assisted in surveying local organizations that serve the underserved and conducted in-person interviews with unhoused individuals to better understand how they would be impacted by the coalition’s proposed single-use plastic bag ban. Many thanks for all you continue to do to protect our shared environment, Jane! 

MountainTrue to expand river access and knowledge with grant  from MADE X MTNS

MountainTrue to expand river access and knowledge with grant from MADE X MTNS

MountainTrue to expand river access and knowledge with grant from MADE X MTNS

MountainTrue is proud to announce that we are one of twenty grant recipients of the MADE X MTNS Outdoor Equity Fund. We join a group of small businesses, community groups, and nonprofits working to increase outdoor access and economic opportunity in Western North Carolina. Thanks to the generosity of the MADE X MTNS, MountainTrue will be able to lead more paddling trips on the French Broad Paddle Trail, share ecological and skill-building knowledge that centers Leave No Trace ethics, and provide important conservation information about the trail with organizational partners and event participants. 

“As residents of Western North Carolina, we’re fortunate to work and play in such a beautiful area with ample opportunity to enjoy public lands and rivers. However, we recognize that there are several barriers keeping certain communities from these places — especially rivers — including access to gear, logistics, confidence in safety, and concern for environmental dangers,” says MountainTrue’s French Broad Paddle Trail Manager, Jack Henderson. “With funding from the MADE X MTNS Outdoor Equity Fund grant, we’re excited to help break down some of these barriers by offering equitable paddling opportunities to communities of color in Transylvania and Henderson Counties. We hope this is just the first step towards ensuring that everyone in this region has access to the French Broad Paddle Trail, along with other outdoor recreational endeavors.”

So far, six separate paddling trips have been planned for 2023-2024, with more likely to be scheduled. MountainTrue’s current partners include Find Outdoors’ Club de Exploradores, El Centro of Transylvania and Henderson counties, Latinos Aventureros, and the North Carolina BIPOC Climbers network. Click here to read more about the Outdoor Equity Fund and all fellow grantees, or read more below. 

 

MADE X MTNS Announces Outdoor Equity Fund Grant Awardees

MADE X MTNS funds twenty community-led initiatives that address identified barriers to outdoor recreation access and outdoor economic opportunity.

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA (August 3, 2023) – MADE X MTNS is thrilled to announce the grant recipients of its Outdoor Equity Fund. The twenty grantees represent small businesses, sole proprietors, non-profits, and community groups, located across Western North Carolina’s 25 county footprint and the Qualla Boundary, all working to increase outdoor recreation access and economic opportunity.

“The energy and enthusiasm for shaking up the outdoor industry and making it a more inclusive space from the applicants is inspiring. These proposals aren’t just about changing the outdoor economy field; they’re about deeply remembering our connection to the outdoors and redefining who gets to play and thrive in the great outdoors,” says Outdoor Equity Fund Working Group Facilitator, Iliana Hernandez.

“We’re very excited about the potential impact of these projects and the outdoors becoming a place where everyone feels welcomed and communities can flourish,” she adds.

These grants have been made possible through $125,000 in funding from the Dogwood Health Trust, as part of the three-year “Accelerating Outdoors Grant” awarded to the MADE X MTNS Partnership (MADE X MTNS). The goal of The Outdoor Equity Fund is to help empower community-led initiatives that address identified barriers to outdoor recreation and outdoor economy access and opportunity, and help close these gaps in Western North Carolina.

“We are so inspired by the work of each grantee and the opportunity that this funding presents,” said MADE X MTNS Partnership Director, Amy Allison.

“Together, we can create a more inclusive and vibrant outdoor industry, unlocking the vast potential of diverse voices and experiences to drive entrepreneurship and economic growth, foster community wellness, and lead the way towards a more inclusive and sustainable future,” she adds.

Forty-four applicants, with a grand total of requested funds at $333,304.74 made up the inaugural grant submission cycle, affirming that there is a lot of work being done in the community to make WNC’s outdoor spaces more inclusive and accessible, that the need for more funding is apparent, and that there is excitement and motivation around increasing outdoor recreation access and outdoor economic opportunities.

Outdoor Equity Fund grantees include:

  • Riding in Color Western North Carolina
  • Activated Earth
  • Latinos Aventureros
  • The 30th Alliance
  • UnSPOKEN Bond
  • James Vester Miller Historic Walking Trail
  • The Flying Bike
  • Yadkin Valley Adventure
  • BCOutdoors
  • MountainTrue
  • Blue Ridge Dirt Skrrts
  • McDowell Trail School
  • Catalyst Sports
  • Christmount Adapted Programs
  • Aflorar Herb Collective
  • El Centro Brevard
  • Michelle Black
  • FINDOutdoors
  • Issa Vibe Adventures, LLC
  • Color My Outdoors

Find out more about each grantee’s project on the MADE X MTNS Website.

###

About WNC: MADE X MTNS Partnership

The WNC: MADE X MTNS (Made By Mountains) Partnership is working to expand the outdoor industry and economy across North Carolina’s Appalachian region and catalyze rural development by building vibrant outdoor communities, growing outdoor businesses, and amplifying outdoor culture. For more information, visit madexmtns.com or @madexmtns