You’re Invited to MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering on October 21!
Join us online – we still want to see you, even if it’s only your head, neck and shoulders!
Each year, MountainTrue hosts a gathering of our members to recognize and honor outstanding volunteers, vote on new board members, and reflect on a year of hard work and – hopefully – some big wins! This October 21st, while we cannot gather in person, we hope you’ll join us online to celebrate another year of protecting the places we share.
With Each Other Even If We Can’t Hug Each Other:
MountainTrue’s 2020 Virtual Annual Gathering
October 21, 6-7 pm
RSVP through the form below to get the link to join.
If you are having any trouble accessing the meeting, please contact Adam Bowers at 828-680-0738 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check here to confirm that your membership is current, and if you are not a member you can join or renew when you RSVP using the form below!
Update on Swim Guide Testing in the High Country
Willa “Wild Bill” Hill helps out with water samples for our Swim Guide monitoring program.
Our bacteria monitoring program in the High Country is in full swing, and this year we’ve expanded to include two additional testing sites on the New River and four more sites on the Watauga River tailwaters. So far we’re seeing mixed bacteria results across the watershed, with three of the sites we monitor consistently failing to meet EPA water quality standards: Calloway Bridge on the Watauga River, Guy Ford Bridge and Hickory Nut Gap Road on the Elk River.
Calloway Bridge is located in Foscoe, where high levels of E. coli are likely a result of failing infrastructures such as septic systems and small non-municipal sewage plants referred to as package plants. The higher bacteria levels at Guy Ford Road are likely due to agricultural runoff in the Beaverdam Creek area. And problems at Hickory Nut Gap on the Elk River are likely due to a mix of stormwater runoff from golf courses and failing sewer infrastructure. The high levels of pollution at Elk River Falls and our new Tennessee tailwater sites are also likely caused by failing sewer infrastructure.
This year’s water quality results have been worse than last year’s, which could be due to changes in how land near our rivers is being used and/or higher than average rainfall. Water pollution is caused not only by leaks in broken sewer pipes, but also when heavy rains overwhelm sewage systems and cause them to overflow – releasing large amounts of untreated sewage directly into rivers, streams and lakes. Unfortunately, these pollution events are common, and we believe many of them go unreported to the public. When they are reported, it can take weeks to find out and the public is expected to learn about them through legal ads in local newspapers. We believe that such overflows are contributing to rising bacteria and nutrient levels resulting in algal blooms in the Elk and Watauga Rivers as well as Watauga Lake.
To better track sources of pollution we’ve hired Hannah Woodburn as our AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator, added lab capacity to our testing program and have begun using new cutting-edge techniques. One such technique is using a fluorometer to trace the optical brighteners and detergents commonly found in sewage in order to track pollution in real-time.
To help tackle the likely sources of bacterial pollution, MountainTrue has launched the ILoveRivers.org campaign and we need your help in pushing for a package of reforms at the federal, state and local levels to increase investments in fixing our sewage infrastructure, help farmers improve their agricultural practices, and upgrade our public notification system so the public learns about SSOs when they happen not weeks later.
For resources on how to help improve water quality in the High Country take action at ILoveRivers.org.
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.
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.
Celebrate Earth Day with MountainTrue
As you may have heard, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced recently that it will order a full cleanup of every coal ash pit in the state! This is truly one of the biggest environmental victories of our era. As if that wasn’t enough, last week Duke Energy announced that it has indefinitely postponed the construction of a 190-megawatt gas-fired peaker plant on Lake Julian, removing it from its list of future projects.
For six years, MountainTrue members kept the pressure on Duke Energy and the state Department of Environmental Quality to clean up the coal ash mess and to move beyond fossil fuels toward more efficiency and renewable energy. You are part of that legacy. Your support held Duke Energy accountable. These victories are an important reminder that your activism can change the course of history.
When you stand with MountainTrue, you fight for our environment. Will you stand alongside MountainTrue this Earth Day?
By donating to MountainTrue, you safeguard public lands, advocate for the common good in the halls of government, protect our waterways, and help build a sustainable future in the face of climate change.
In honor of Earth Day, act locally by making a contribution to MountainTrue today. With your donation, you will be helping to fight for future successes like these.
Thank you for being part of MountainTrue and making this work possible.