October 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

October 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

October 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

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What Kinds of Events and Outings Do You Want?

As we plan for the fall and winter of 2021-2022, we want to know your comfort level for different types of events at this point in the pandemic. How comfortable are you with indoor events? How about walking tours or workdays that take place outside? Want to go on a guided hike with us? Help inform our future events, fill out our Fall/Winter Event Survey.

‘Energy Solutions’ Bill Sets North Carolina on Path to Carbon Neutrality by 2050

On Wednesday, October 13, Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill called “Energy Solution for North Carolina” or HB 951. We commend Governor Cooper and Senator Berger for coming up with a laudable bipartisan compromise that sets aggressive clean energy goals and maintains the authority of the Utilities Commission to regulate the energy industry. The bill isn’t perfect, but, on balance, we believe HB 951 does far more good than bad. Read our analysis of the bill.

Join Us at One of Our Annual Gatherings

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 accomplishments. Due to the COVID resurgence, we are holding four separate outdoor events — one in each region. We hope you can join us. Find your event and register to attend.

Protecting Ash Trees from the Emerald Ash Borer

MountainTrue’s public lands team is hard at work saving ash trees from emerald ash borer beetle. This summer, we assisted our partners with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in treating 280 ash trees in Macon and Haywood Counties. To date, MountainTrue has helped preserve more than 1,100 ash trees in Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, Madison, Transylvania, and Yancey counties.

MountainTrue Removes Invasive Plants from Rare Natural Communities

Photo by Armin Weise. From left to right: Bob Gale, Owen Carson, Brandon Wheeler, Josh Kelly, Armin Weise

MountainTrue has entered into an agreement with Pisgah National Forest to remove invasive plants from two rare grassland communities associated with rock outcrops. These areas contain dozens of rare species, and this work requires special care and expertise to ensure that we don’t inadvertently harm rare and native plants. Recently, we were able to treat 15 acres of invasives at two sites with the help of expert volunteers from EcoForesters, Equinox Environmental, and Western Carolina University. Want to get your hands dirty and volunteer? If you don’t mind difficult working conditions and breaking a sweat, contact josh@mountaintrue.org.

#BeMntTrue and Help Spread the Love for Nature and Our Region

Raise up your voice, show off your MountainTrue pride, and take part in our #BeMtnTrue Awareness Raiser!

This social media campaign will help MountainTrue reach new people and recruit more supporters and members. Take part in our #BeMtnTrue Awareness Raiser and help us build the movement to protect our communities and the places we share.

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Get outside and take a selfie, photo, or video of yourself doing your part to protect our communities, cleaning up our rivers and trails, or just getting out to enjoy our beautiful Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
  2. Then share your photos or videos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let the world know why you’re proud of being MountainTrue.
  3. Use the #BeMtnTrue hashtag and tag us in your post!
    Our tags:
    Facebook – @MountainTrue
    Twitter & Instagram – @mtntrue

You can start now by taking photos and videos and sharing them on social media while the weather is beautiful. Beginning on November 22, MountainTrue will share our favorites by reposting them on Facebook, featuring them on our Instagram story highlights, and retweeting them on Twitter.

Thanks for being a part of MountainTrue. Now get out and have some fun!

Prophetic Witness, Environmental Justice and the Mountain Valley Pipeline with Rev. Michael Malcom

Join the Creation Care Alliance on Thursday, October 21, for their monthly all-region Zoom meeting featuring Rev. Michael Malcom, Executive Director of The People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power & Light. Named by Grist as one of the “top 50 people who will change the world” in recognition of his environmental work, Rev. Malcolm will discuss his experience protesting against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) alongside frontline community members and faith leaders. Register today.

Meet Maddy Watson, Our New Communications Associate

MountainTrue is excited to welcome Maddy Watson as our new Communications Associate. Maddy is thrilled to join the team at MountainTrue and to have the chance to pursue her passion for inclusive, equitable, and impactful conservation storytelling and action. A lifelong nature lover and a resident of Western North Carolina since 2015, she is driven to protect the scenic beauty and ancient landscapes of the Southern Blue Ridge for current and future generations of people and wildlife. Maddy likes to spend her free time exploring mountain roads, woodland trails, and antique shops. With two Bachelor of Arts degrees and a Master of Public Affairs degree from Western Carolina University, she’s ready to contribute to meaningful change in the mountain region she loves so dearly.

High Country Regional News

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

Cottages of Boone Continue to Pollute the Watauga River

Our High Country Water Quality Team is vigilantly collecting E. coli samples and working with the Department of Environmental Quality to resolve ongoing water quality violations from The Cottages of Boone, an apartment complex on the outskirts of Boone. The Cottages has consistently violated their discharge permit and proven to be a direct threat to water quality in the High Country. Since May of 2021, the complex has discharged over 75,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Laurel Fork Creek, which flows into the Watauga River.

MountainTrue has reported multiple wastewater discharge violations to the NC DEQ’s Division of Water Resources. DEQ has followed up and issued notices of violation. Want to help support us in our work? Take action and sign our petition in support of our I Love Rivers action plan.

Battle Non-Native Invasive Plants in the High Country

Join MountainTrue and the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition for an upcoming workday and help eradicate non-native invasive plants such as Oriental Bittersweet, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Knotweed that grow along pathways and trails. MountainTrue is a member of the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition — a coalition of agencies and non-profit partners working to educate the public about the environmental harm caused by non-native invasive plants and perform on-the-ground habitat restoration work in the High Country.

Interested in volunteering? Register for one of these upcoming events:
Oct 21 – 1–3 pm at Green Valley Community Park – 3896 Big Hill Rd, Todd, NC 28684
Oct 28 – 4–6 pm at The Greenway – 335 Hunting Hills Lane, Boone, NC, 28607
Nov 4- 1–3 pm at Valle Crucis Community Park – 2892 Broadstone Rd, Banner Elk, NC 28604

Collect Macroinvertebrates and Help Us Document the Health of our Streams

Do aquatic science with us by participating in the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) program this fall. Aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, are indicators of water quality. By collecting these water critters, we can rate the water quality of our local streams and monitor changes over time based on the families and species of insects collected. If you are interested in volunteering and learning more about aquatic organisms, please email hcwqa@mountaintrue.org.

What Have We Found in the Trash Trout this Month?

Our Trash Trout remains a valuable asset for the High Country. After a week of heavy rains, our team collected over 850 individual pieces of trash. Styrofoam is the most common type of trash found, with plastic bottles coming in second place. As part of our plastics monitoring program, we collect data and record the brands and types of trash polluting our waters. Click here to learn about all the work we are doing with our plastics campaign.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Celebrate at the Southern Region Annual Gathering!

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 accomplishments. We hope you can join us on Tuesday, October 26, from 4:30 to 6 pm at Guidon Brewing Company in Hendersonville to recognize and honor MountainTrue’s 2021 Southern Region Volunteer of the Year: Erica Shanks! We are excited to be gathering in person this year and hope you can connect with us. All attendees are required to be vaccinated. Sign up to register.

Welcome AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator Mara Chamlee!

We’re excited to have Mara Chamlee joining us as our new AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator in the Southern Region. She will be conducting water quality programming and educational efforts with volunteers, schools, and the greater community.

Mara is from Greenville, South Carolina, where she learned to love the ecology, landscapes, and people of the Southern Blue Ridge. Mara earned a B.S. in Biology from Furman University and focused her undergrad research on dragonflies as indicator species of water quality. Mara became especially interested in sustainable agriculture in watersheds during her time working with the watershed team at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. Since then, she has worked as a farm-to-school educator and food justice advocate in Vermont and Massachusetts.

Mara is finishing up a master’s degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University, focusing on agriculture and watershed management in the Yampa Valley of Northwest Colorado. In her free time, Mara loves spending time outside, especially biking, backpacking, and gardening. Welcome to the team, Mara!

Weigh in on the Henderson County 2045 Comprehensive Plan!

Henderson County has kicked off its Comprehensive Planning effort with a Community Survey. This is an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our county meets the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and increased pressures on our built and natural environments. We’ve prepared a guide for members of MountainTrue who want to see our community grow sustainably and responsibly. Click here for a list of suggested responses and more information about the survey and other opportunities for public input.

Learn about Sustainable Growth with Chris Joyell and Gray Jernigan

The League of Women Voters of Henderson County (LWVHC) is hosting a virtual program with guest speakers from MountainTrue sharing principles for sustainable and responsible growth in Henderson County on Wednesday, November 3 at 5 pm. Chris Joyell, Director, Healthy Communities, and Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director & Green Riverkeeper, will share guidance to assist public participation in the Henderson County 2045 Comprehensive Plan. The Henderson County Comprehensive Plan will serve as the vision and guide for development for the next 25 years. For more information and to register for this Zoom event, visit www.lwvhcnc.org.

Volunteer to help us monitor aquatic macroinvertebrates (that’s fancy for water bugs)!

Do aquatic science with us by participating in the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) program this fall. Aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, are indicators of water quality. By collecting these water critters, we can rate the water quality of our local streams and monitor changes over time based on the families and species of insects collected. If you are experienced in monitoring aquatic macroinvertebrates, we can get you on a sampling team before Thanksgiving. If you are inexperienced but want to learn, you can observe and assist a team this season and get trained in the future. Please email our Americorps Water Quality Administrator, Mara Chamlee, at wqa@mountaintrue.org.

Western Regional News

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

Western Region Annual Member Gathering Tonight

Each year, MountainTrue hosts a gathering of our members to celebrate outstanding volunteers, vote on new board members, and reflect on a year of hard work and accomplishments. Instead of one big gathering this year, we’re having smaller outdoor regional gatherings. In our Western Region, we’re gathering tonight, Wednesday, October 20th, at 4:30 pm at the Big Bear picnic pavilion in Franklin, NC. We hope you can join us to recognize and honor MountainTrue’s 2021 Western Region Volunteer of the Year: Tod Fullerton! We are excited to be gathering in person this year and hope you can connect with us. Sign up to register.

Volunteer to Help Restore Native Plant Diversity at Island Park

Nicole Harris shows off some Chinese privet plants she pulled up at Island Park on February 10, 2021.

Through our ongoing partnership to eradicate non-native invasive plants at Island Park in Bryson City, MountainTrue and the Tuckaseegee River Alliance are hosting another set of volunteer work sessions on Saturday, October 23, from 10 am-12 pm and 1-3 pm.

We will use hand tools to cut the remaining invasive shrubs and then treat the roots. Each session is limited to 15 volunteers. No prior experience is necessary, and we will provide tools and training. Rain date: October 30. Register today to help restore native plant diversity at Bryson City’s Island Park: morning (10-12) and afternoon (1-3).

Eleventh Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup

Join other lake-loving volunteers on the first Saturday in November for MountainTrue’s annual Lake Chatuge shoreline cleanup. The kickoff is at 9 am at the Towns County Swim Beach Pavilion across from the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, where volunteers will get their assigned cleanup locations and receive bags, gloves, and safety information. Coffee and grab-n-go breakfast snacks will be available, along with free t-shirts for the first 50 volunteers. After two hours of shoreline cleaning at the assigned site, volunteers will meet back at the pavilion at 11:30 for prizes. Please register in advance to help organizers assign volunteers to teams.

Katie Caruso is Helping Battle Non-Native Invasive Plants This Fall

If you participate in one of our non-native invasive plant volunteer workdays this fall, you’ll likely meet Katie Caruso, MountainTrue West’s new non-native Invasive Plant Intern. Since early September, Katie has been working with Western Region Program Coordinator Tony Ward to control non-native invasive plants at places like Mayor’s Park and Hamilton Gardens in Hiawassee, Georgia, and Island Park in Bryson City. Katie graduated in 2020 from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.S. in Biology. She most recently completed a one-year term with AmeriCorps doing habitat restoration work (including removing non-native invasive plants!) on the Oʻahu National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Hawaii.


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 an Annual Member Gathering in Your Area!

Join Us for an Annual Member Gathering in Your Area!

Join Us for an Annual Member Gathering in Your Area!

We are excited to be gathering in person this year to connect with our members, celebrate our MountainTrue Award winners, and see each others’ smiling faces!

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 accomplishments. Due to the COVID resurgence, we are holding four separate outdoor events — one in each region —  in order to reduce the size of our crowd and to protect the safety of others. All attendees are required to be vaccinated. We hope you can join us. If you have questions about any of these events, please contact Susan Bean at susan@mountaintrue.org. Registration is accessible below for both the High Country and Central Region events. 

Check here to confirm that your membership is current, and if you are not a member you can join or renew when you RSVP!

Vaccination Required

Due to the high rate of COVID infections and hospitalizations across our region, we are requiring that all attendees be fully vaccinated in order to participate. Please come prepared to show proof of vaccination when you arrive. If you are not vaccinated, you will have an opportunity to vote for new and returning board members online.

October 7th – High Country Region
Valle Crucis Community Park in Banner Elk, NC
4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

October 20th – Western Region
Big Bear Pavilion in Downtown Franklin, NC
4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

 

October 26th – Southern Region
Guidon Brewing Company in Hendersonville, NC
4:30 PM – 6:00 PM

October 28th – Central Region
HiWire Brewing Bier Garden in Asheville, NC
4:30 – 6:00PM


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.

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

After two weeks of hard-nosed competition, Jackson County won the 2021 Bioblitz, beating Watauga and Transylvania Counties. Overall, 46 people contributed 2,947 observations, and 317 people helped with the identification of 1,228 species. While Jackson County had 1,403 observations to Watauga County’s 1,068, the competition for the most species was much tighter – Jackson county prevailed 738 to 681. Transylvania County came in a distant third with 472 observations and 279 species. Check out our blog post to read more about our Bioblitz results and see photos of the winning observations.

Sarah Ogletree Joins MountainTrue as the Director of the Creation Care Alliance

The Creation Care Alliance is pleased to announce that Sarah Ogletree will be our next director. Sarah comes to us from our close partner, NC Interfaith Power and Light, where she has been for the last three years. Her dedication to seeking justice for both people and planet shines through in all aspects of her life, and she has consistently been recognized with awards for her leadership, dedication and excellence. Join us in welcoming Sarah! Read more.

We’re Hiring! MountainTrue Seeks a Great Environmental Communicator

MountainTrue seeks a bright, organized, and outgoing individual with strong communications skills, experience in online advocacy, and development writing. The Communications Associate will report to the Director of Communications and work closely with our Community Engagement Director, program directors and regional directors to (1) promote our programs through member outreach and correspondence, public relations, social media, and marketing; (2) support our advocacy goals through online organizing/advocacy; (3) provide writing and communications support for our fundraising activities. The deadline to apply is Sunday, August 15, 2021. Read more and apply.

August 29: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River

MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River.

Sunday, August 29, 2021
Doors: 5:00 p.m., Starts: 7:00 p.m.
All Ages are Welcome
Tickets: $35 in advance; $39 general admission

French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson says, “Michael Franti is the perfect artist to bring us back down to the banks of the French Broad to celebrate our beautiful river. Come to enjoy a night of inspiring music and support our ongoing work to make our river cleaner and healthier.” Read more and buy tickets.

High Country Regional News

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

Sparking a Love for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems at High Country Forest Wild

Our Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, visited High Country Forest Wild, an outdoor experiential learning school. She gave an instream lesson on aquatic insects and water quality to about 45 students. It was an excellent way to get young minds thinking about freshwater ecosystems and water quality.

MountainTrue Reports Water Quality Violation for Development Along Watauga Lake

While conducting routine sampling of Watauga Lake for our Harmful Algal Bloom Study, we spotted a new development lacking erosion control. We promptly contacted the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, which issued a notice of violation. We hope to see improvements on the construction site and continue monitoring this development to help keep our waterways free of sediment pollution.

Bottomley Farms Clearcut Causes Severe Erosion, Ecosystem Collapse

Our Watauga Riverkeeper teamed up with Southwings to get a bird’s eye view of a massive clear-cut timber operation in Alleghany County being conducted by Bottomley Farms — a Sparta-based agribusiness company. The developers are removing all the trees, shrubs and vegetation, and grubbed it down to hundreds of acres of bare earth. The result has been severe erosion, sediment pollution of area waterways, and a total collapse of the ecosystem in Ramey Creek — once a thriving spawning ground for native brook trout. North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission staff could only save 13 individual trout out of the hundreds previously documented in that stream. Commission staff relocated the survivors to an adjacent watershed. Tragically, a species that thrived in that watershed since the glaciers retreated tens of thousands of years ago was erased by one egregiously bad timber project. Our report resulted in the NC Department of Environmental Quality issuing a notice of violation. We will continue to monitor this project and push for a lasting riparian buffer and a complete restoration of the stream.

Trash Trout Update: There’s Too Much Plastic in Our Waterways

Our Trash Trout on Winklers Creek continues to collect so much litter. We have removed and cataloged thousands of pieces of trash in the few weeks that the trash-collection device has been in place. The majority of the garbage found has been single-use plastics and styrofoam, underscoring the need to address the prevalence of plastics and microplastics in our environment.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Volunteer for Rhythm & Brews! Hear Good Music and Get Cool Stuff!

Join MountainTrue’s Recycling Team on Main St. during the Rhythm & Brews Concert Series in downtown Hendersonville this summer and fall to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Volunteers will be rewarded with an R&B volunteer t-shirt, a voucher for a free beverage, a koozie and a water bottle! Help educate attendees and monitor the waste stations.

Upcoming Concerts:
July 15: Abby Bryant & The Echoes with opener Andrew Thelston Band
August 19: Jamie McLean Band with opener Hustle Souls.
September 16: Mike and the Moonpies with opener Kenny George Band.
October 21: The Broadcast with opener TBD.

2 Shifts: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. & 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Volunteers needed: 4 per shift, 8 total
To sign up: https://signup.com/go/eRCebTq

Working to be Plastic Free Program Endorsed by Hendersonville City Council

L to R: Beth Stang, chair of Hendersonville’s ESB. Lyndsey Simpson, H’ville City Councilwoman, and Christine Wittmeier, chair of MountainTrue’s Recycling Team, hold a July 1st proclamation endorsing the Working to Be Plastic Free program.

On July 1, Hendersonville City Council approved a proclamation supporting Working to be Plastic Free — a plastic reduction program created by MountainTrue and the Hendersonville Environmental Sustainability Board. Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk signed the pledge and has encouraged staff to reduce the city’s use of plastic.

Many of the local merchants and restaurants participated in a plastics-use survey earlier in the year. Now, we’re encouraging them to sign the pledge and begin working to eliminate single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and take-out containers. Most of these plastics are not recyclable and end up in landfills or littering our rivers and streams.

MountainTrue is ready to help businesses find sustainable packaging alternatives, and participants will be recognized in press releases, newsletters, social media, and a webpage promoting the program. To get more information and sign the pledge, visit our webpage or contact MountainTrue’s Interim Southern Regional Director, Katie Breckheimer, at srogray@mountaintrue.org.

Congratulations to Our Broad River Race Winners: Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe

Broad River Race winners Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe accept the trophy from David Caldwell, the Broad Riverkeeper.

Our Third Annual Broad River Race was postponed when a thunderstorm moved across the area last Saturday, July 12. A day later, the race flag dropped, and the paddlers sped down the river. Four and a half miles and an hour later, Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe were the first to cross the finish line in a tandem canoe to take home our race trophy, Betsy the Turtle. Annie Keith and her son David Caldwell, our Broad Riverkeeper, were hot on their trail. It was great to see so many people enjoying the cool waters of the Broad River, and we look forward to seeing who wins next year.

App State Eco-Tox Team Collects Fish Tissue Samples From the Broad River

The Appalachian State Eco-toxicology Team returned to the Broad River to collect more water, sediment and fish tissue samples for an ongoing study of the bio-accumulation of heavy metals in fish. The team sampled upstream and downstream of two industrial sites with permits to discharge pollutants into the river. MountainTrue will use the results to determine if we need fish consumption advisories for the affected sections of the waterway. Special thanks to our High Country Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, and Appalachian State’s Dr. Shea Tuberty for leading this fantastic project.

ICYMI: Broad River Spring Sweep Collects Over 100 lbs of Litter

We had a small crew for this year’s Annual Broad River Spring Sweep on May 29, but we made a big impact by collecting over 100 lbs of litter (including a football) from the Broad River. It was also inspiring to see so many folks cooling off in the water and enjoying the river at the Greenway canoe access.

Western Regional News

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

Crossover Timber Project Update: Your Advocacy Is Making a Difference

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly documents the age of a 200-year-old tree in the Nantahala National Forest.

We asked, and you responded! MountainTrue’s members submitted 334 public comments (36% of which were customized) and 24 letters to the editors of relevant local newspapers during the comment period for the US Forest Service’s Crossover Project. As currently proposed, the project would log more than 300 acres of old-growth forest, rare species habitat, and remote backcountry in the Snowbird Mountains of Nantahala National Forest.

The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership — a broad coalition of forest users representing recreation, conservation and timber interests of which MountainTrue is a member— has joined the fight and requested that the Forest Service remove these acres from the project. For its part, the Forest Service has indicated a willingness to collaborate with the partnership to develop a better alternative during the Environmental Assessment phase of the project. Thank you for speaking up for our forests!

We’re Hiring a Nonnative Invasive Plant Control Intern

MountainTrue seeks a dedicated individual to fill a part-time, 12-week paid internship for its western region in Fall 2021. The position includes a combination of on-the-ground stewardship of public and conserved lands, volunteer recruitment and coordination, and public outreach. It will require travel to various locations within a 60-mile radius of Murphy (including north Georgia) and substantial work outdoors. The application deadline is August 4, and the start date is August 30. Visit our website to learn more.

Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants Webinar Coming in August

Due to popular demand, MountainTrue Western Region Program Coordinator Tony Ward and Public Lands Director Bob Gale will host a webinar on how to eradicate non-native invasive plants (NNIP) on Tuesday, August 24 at noon. Tony and Bob will discuss the best tools to control common NNIP species and the best seasons for treatment. The webinar will include an in-depth discussion about herbicides, the active ingredients of commonly used products, and how to apply them correctly and with minimal impact on the environment. Register for the free webinar today!

Become A Georgia Green Landscape Steward

The Georgia Green Landscape Stewards certification program provides educational resources that teach landowners about increasing plant and animal biodiversity, conserving soil and water, providing wildlife and pollinator habitat, and improving public and environmental health. Participants can measure their activities with the program’s metric scorecard and earn certification status for their landscape. Along with the satisfaction of contributing to natural resource protection, Georgia Green Landscape certification includes an option for Georgians to purchase an attractive yard sign to designate their property as a sustainably managed landscape.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

July 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Headwaters Fun Float on the First Broad River
Join MountainTrue as we head up to the South Mountains for a fun paddle on the cool shady waters of the First Broad River! Read more.

August 24, 12-1 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants
Join us for an educational program about managing common nonnative invasive plants, including techniques for control, best seasons for treatment, and more. Read more.

August 29, 7 p.m.: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River
MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River. Read more.


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

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

After two weeks of hard-nosed competition, Jackson County has won the 2021 Bioblitz over Watauga and Transylvania Counties. Overall, 46 people contributed 2,947 observations and 317 people helped with the identification of 1,228 species. While Jackson County had 1,403 observations to Watauga County’s 1,068, the competition for the most species was much tighter – Jackson county prevailed 738 to 681. Transylvania County came in a distant third with 472 observations and 279 species.

There were several notable performers in the Bioblitz, with 14 people making over 50 observations! The top three participants were Max Ramey (643 observations, 455 species; Watauga and Transylvania), Tim Lewis (408 observations, 323 species; Jackson), and Janaye Houghton (289 observations, 276 species; Jackson).

MountainTrue staff selected several people for recognition for their outstanding participation in the Bioblitz. Winners will receive gift certificates for local conservation-friendly businesses.

Max Ramey, as previously noted, was stellar and took home awards for Most Observations, Most Observations in Watauga County, and Best Observation for a stunning image of a Hellbender (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/82943347).

Tim Lewis was recognized for Most Observations in Jackson County and Sherry Downing won Most Observations for Transylvania County. Scott Persons got the award for Best Bird Observation for a crisp image of an Indigo Bunting. (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/82101741)

Erin Martin won Best Fungal Observation for a marvelously textured photo of the Common Toadskin Lichen (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/82589987)

Janaye Houghton won Best Arthropod Observation for an otherworldly image of a Spittlebug (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/82367166). 

The participation in the 2021 MountainTrue Bioblitz was phenomenal! It’s inspiring to see so many people learning about and appreciating the incredible diversity of the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. If you enjoyed this year’s MountainTrue Bioblitz, stay tuned for next year. We plan to have many more group and in-person opportunities at the next Bioblitz. 


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.

Ward Mill Dam Removal Connects Aquatic Habitat, Makes River Healthier

Ward Mill Dam Removal Connects Aquatic Habitat, Makes River Healthier

Ward Mill Dam Removal Connects Aquatic Habitat, Makes River Healthier

Boone, NC — In a huge win for local aquatic wildlife, the Ward Mill Dam just a few miles from Boone, North Carolina has finally been removed. The first dam was constructed at the location in 1890 and improved upon over the years. The mill complex served the community for generations providing electricity, jobs, firewood and building materials. The dam had been an obstacle for local aquatic wildlife for the past 130 years. Now, native fish such as the tangerine darter and threatened salamanders like the hellbender will be reunited and benefit from a reconnected and improved cold-water aquatic habitat.

The Ward Mill Dam Removal project has been a partnership between American Rivers, Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development, MountainTrue, the Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District and the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service. The dam removal was a high priority for experts and biologists and was ranked a top priority among projects by the Southeast Aquatic Resource Partnership and “tier one, priority one” by the North Carolina Aquatic Barrier Assessment Tool.

MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper, Andy Hill, is excited about the environmental benefits and the opportunity to connect the Watauga River Paddle to create more recreational opportunities. “We’ve greatly improved aquatic habitat and river health, and promoted safe river recreation while honoring the historical and community cultural value of the Ward Mill.”

The Ward family continues their generations-long environmental stewardship by removing this aquatic barrier and graciously surrendering their hydropower license with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. While the instream dam structure has been completely removed down to bedrock to reconnect the watershed and allow for sediment transport downstream, the iconic sawmill, historic buildings and complex have been preserved in partnership with the State Historic Preservation Office. Please respect the decision and the privacy of the Ward family.

“We are excited to see the long-term environmental benefits associated with removing the dam, but are also excited about preserving the rich history of the dam complex by documenting and saving the nearby historic buildings,” explains Jonathan Hartsell of Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development. “This complex project has been successful from start to finish due to a well thought out gameplan from the project management team, agency partners and, most importantly, the landowners.”

The complex project had to be done carefully due to the delicate biodiversity of the Watauga River and its streams. Dr. Mike Gangloff and Dr. Derek Martin of Appalachian State University led a team of researchers collecting valuable data on pre and post-removal aquatic habitat. This has included sediment flow research, aquatic habitat surveys and numerous nocturnal SCUBA dives searching for elusive nocturnal Hellbender salamander. Sediment flow research and aquatic habitat surveys will better inform future dam removal projects and contribute to the field of knowledge for river restoration.

“Rivers are like a circulatory system, and thanks to this dam removal, American Rivers with our partners celebrate a free-flowing Watauga River which is the lifeblood of a thriving community, healthy ecosystems, and clean water for people and nature,” says Dam Removal advocate and American Rivers Science Program Director and Southeast Conservation Director Erin McCombs.

Removing the Ward Mill Dam reconnects 35 miles of aquatic habitat in the main stem of the Watauga River and 140 miles of streams across the watershed. Dams, though providing benefits in certain circumstances, can also significantly damage rivers. Dams increase water temperature, reduce river flows, reduce the amount of dissolved oxygen available to fish and other species, block the natural flow of sediment and debris, and serve as physical barriers for recreational users such as paddlers and anglers, as well as aquatic wildlife such as fish and amphibians. Additionally, most dams require maintenance and many require removal or rebuilding after 50 years.

The dam deconstruction was performed by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service National Fish Passage Program Aquatic Restoration team and Wildlands Engineering. Project funding was generously provided by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources, Patagonia, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Beech Mountain Resort, Hunter Banks of Asheville, and Boone’s Fly Shop.


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.

MountainTrue Launches BioBlitz to Crown Champion of Biodiversity in WNC

MountainTrue Launches BioBlitz to Crown Champion of Biodiversity in WNC

MountainTrue Launches BioBlitz to Crown Champion of Biodiversity in WNC

Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties, NC – MountainTrue is hosting its annual 2021 BioBlitz as a regional competition to crown the 2021 champion of biodiversity. The competition will take place virtually across three counties from June 5 through June 19, and is a great opportunity for experts and aspiring naturalists to get outside and add to the scientific record by documenting the vast biodiversity of our region.

What: MountainTrue 2021 BioBlitz
Where: Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties, NC through the iNaturalist App.
When: June 5-20

Sign up & Learn More

The competition kicks off on June 5 on the iNaturalist web and smartphone platform. Scores will be tallied for each county and for individual participants, with prizes and bragging rights for our winners. Prizes will be awarded to individual winners in the following categories: overall best observation, most total observations, most species, most birds, most arthropods (including insects!) and most fungi. We will recognize the County Champion of Biodiversity as the county that receives the most observations of unique species. Additional recognition will go to the county with the most participants and the most observations submitted.

“The MountainTrue 2021 Bioblitz is a great opportunity for people to connect with and learn about the natural world around them,” explains MountainTrue Public Lands Biologist Josh Kelly. “This year, by expanding the blitz to three counties and making a game of it, we hope to be able to engage more people and find more species. . We might even find some that have never been recorded in our region.”

MountainTrue first took its Bioblitz to iNaturalist in 2020 as a safer alternative during COVID-19. Last year, 97 observers documented over 1,100 unique species. This year, by expanding the blitz from one county to three, MountainTrue hopes to record even more species and make a greater contribution to the scientific record for our region. Tell your friends, neighbors, family, and fellow naturalists and citizen scientists, and get prepared for a BioBlitz like no other!

IMAGE DOWNLOAD: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1pT3KrHIgpQK0qlcoSI3DxlxpjsyTMHRd?usp=sharing 

Media Contact: 
Karim Olaechea, MountainTrue Communications Director 
C: 415-535-9004, E: karim@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.