What: Nantahala Gorge BioBlitz, presented by MountainTrue, Nantahala Outdoor Center and Nantahala River Lodge.
Where: Nantahala Outdoor Center, 13077 Highway 19 W, Bryson City, NC 28713
When: Meet up on Saturday, June 1 at 9 a.m. at the Big Wesser restaurant at the Nantahala Outdoor Center
The Nantahala Gorge BioBlitz is an opportunity for people who love the great outdoors and want to learn more about the plants and creatures who call Nantahala Gorge their home. Nantahala Gorge is characterized by the unique geology of the Murphy Marble Belt. This soft rack has been carved by the Nantahala River into a scenic gorge that is known to harbor many unique species reliant on calcium – a soil nutrient in short supply in the Blue Ridge. Despite its outstanding character, the Nantahala Gorge has never had a systematic biological inventory and the BioBlitz is likely to turn up new records for the area.
“BioBlitzes are a great opportunity for people connect with and learn about the natural world around them,” explains MountainTrue Public Lands Biologist Josh Kelly. “We’re going to be documenting a broad range of life at Nantahala Gorge, including butterflies, beetles, vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, birds, mammals, mushrooms, and more.”
Expert hike leaders will include faculty from UNC Asheville, Western Carolina University, Mars Hill University as well as naturalists from the U.S. Forest Service’s Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory,, Asheville Mushroom Club, Tangled Bank Conservation and MountainTrue.
We will lead groups for all fitness levels, from relaxed hikes to vigorous climbs up the side of the the gorge. Participants are encouraged to bring at least two quarts of water, rain gear, sturdy footwear and their own lunches.
This event is free and open to the public. Sign up below.
We had a wonderful evening hanging out with MountainTrue members at our Annual Gathering on Wednesday night. If you missed it, you can still take action to protect WNC’s mountains here. We hope you’ll get involved and join us next time!
Tell City Council: Fund Climate Resilience
What It Is: As members of the Asheville Regional Transit Coalition (ARTC) and the 100% Renewables Coalition, we’ve had some exciting victories this year. Asheville City Council passed a new Transit Master Plan that lays out a path to more frequent and widespread transit service in Asheville over the next ten years, and City Council adopted a 100% Renewable Energy Resolution to transition all city municipal operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
What You Can Do: These plans are a great first step, but now we need City Council to commit to turning them into action. Tell City Council: Thank you for voting to approve the 100% Renewable Energy Resolution and Transit Master Plan. Now, commit to funding Asheville’s 100% Renewable Energy Resolution and Transit Master Plan starting in next year’s city budget.
I Heart Pisgah: Protect Your Favorite Places in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest
What It Is:
MountainTrue is a proud member if I Heart Pisgah, a group of over 100 organizations and businesses and thousands of individuals who support more protected areas in Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest.
What You Can Do:
Go to the I Heart Pisgah website here to take action to protect your favorite places in the national forest. You can write about what you love to do there and why you want to see it protected – the more you make it your own, the better. Your comments will go to the Forest Service before the release of the new Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Management Plan.
Blue Horizons Project: Make Your Home And Business More Energy-Efficient
What It Is: The Blue Horizons Project is an outgrowth of MountainTrue’s work to shut down the Asheville coal plant and encourage Duke Energy to increase their investment in energy efficiency programs.
Buncombe County’s energy usage is continuing to increase, and energy demand is highest on the coldest days of winter. If this pattern continues at the current rate, a new natural gas plant known as a “peaker plant” would need to be built to serve Buncombe County to meet the highest peak demand in winter. The Blue Horizons Project believes that instead of building more fossil-fuel plants, we can organize as a community to use energy more efficiently and explore clean energy alternatives.
What You Can Do: Go to the Blue Horizons website to find ways to make your home and/or business more energy-efficient. You can also sign up for the Blue Horizons newsletter or contact Blue Horizons Project Coordinator Sophie Mullinax to help more people in Buncombe County save energy and money through the project.
Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe: Support Buncombe County Families
What It Is: MountainTrue is a leading organization of Family-Friendly Affordable Buncombe, an initiative to leverage the unique opportunity provided to our community by the sale of Mission Health in order to make our region more affordable for Buncombe County families and workers. Specifically, we believe the new property tax revenue created by the sale of Mission Health should support early childhood education, attainable family housing and better public transit.
Hurricane path shifts south. Heavy rains forecast for WNC.
With the path of Hurricane Florence shifting south, parts of Western North Carolina could see high winds and significant rain this weekend.
For the latest storm tracking reports and forecasts, check out:
https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/ graphics_at1.shtml?cone# contents
Or https://google.org/crisismap/ 2018-florence
Our French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeepers and the Broad River Alliance urge paddlers to use common sense and stay out of rushing rivers and high winds until they return to safe levels. Do not try to paddle during a hurricane.
You can check the French Broad River Gauge page to see if it is safe to paddle:
For other WNC rivers, you can check the USGS website: https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nc/nwis/current/?type=flow
The Blue Ridge Parkway has issued an emergency evacuation order for its campsites. For more Parkway updates:
Pisgah-Nantahala National Forests have issued a closure for all campgrounds and recreation sites, day use or overnight, and asked that people not use public trails until the storm passes: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?aid=49130
Great Smoky Mountain National Park has yet to issue any hurricane-related advisories or closures. For more updates, visit: https://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm
Landslides and Flooding
Because it’s been a wet summer, Florence’s prolonged rain storms have the potential to cause flooding and landslides.
Check out the NC Department of Public Safety’s preparedness resources for steps you can take before, during and after a flood or landslide to lower your risks. This includes not walking or driving through moving water. Six inches of moving water can sweep you off your feet and 11 inches can move a vehicle.
Created by the United Way of North Carolina, the North Carolina 2-1-1 site offers community health and human services resources and services, and real-time support and communications during emergencies and disasters: https://www.nc211.org/
Duke Energy has a special online resource for Hurricane Florence with links to view current outages and report new ones: https://www.dukeenergyupdates.com/florence/north-carolina
The Department of Public Safety also has a special resource page for Hurricane Florence with updates on evacuations, road conditions and shelter locations: https://www.ncdps.gov/florence
The storm’s path could shift over the next few days and forecasts could change dramatically. Stay informed, be safe and get prepared in the days to come.
The Trump administration is threatening the right to speak up about government projects that affect our communities and the mountains we love in Western NC.
The National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, is such a basic part of our lives that we usually don’t even think about it. It’s what allows citizens to have a say about the plans for government projects that will affect the places they live, and requires the government to consider the environment when making critical decisions about road building, land management, permit applications and more.
It’s NEPA that allows everyday people to comment on the Forest Service’s Nantahala-Pisgah Forests Management Plan, or to know the costs and impacts of projects like the I-26 expansion before they occur. NEPA keeps these decisions from being made in the dark, and by requiring plan alternatives, it saves tax dollars.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is proposing revisions to NEPA that will undo the core principles of the act. We have until August 20 to submit public comments to defend NEPA.
A photo from the Cut the Clearcutting campaign by WNCA, one of the organizations that merged to become MountainTrue. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) protects the right for communities to have a say about government projects affecting their local environment, and the NEPA process later prevented the type of clearcutting shown in this photo from occurring in the Sugar House Cove and Bluff Timber Sales.
Act Now So We Can Keep Acting in the Future. Use your own words, but remind the White House Council on Environmental Quality:
- Your voice deserves to be heard when the government makes decisions that affect your community.
- We should know the alternatives for government projects before spending billions of taxpayer dollars.
- Knowing how projects will affect low-income communities and communities of color helps protect people who for too long have not had meaningful protections.
- NEPA has been critical to protecting WNC’s communities and environment for decades, including for the north shore of Fontana Lake, the Bluff Mountain, Sugar House Cove, and Upper Santeetlah Timber Sales, and the I-26 Connector Project.
When you click the button below, you will be redirected to the formal comment page for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Then, click the “Comment Now!” button on the upper right corner of the page to leave your public comment. There are additional directions on this page that you may read if you like, but you can comment without reading them.
How Has NEPA Helped Western North Carolina? A Few Examples:
1. “The Road to Nowhere”
NEPA analysis showed that the “Road to Nowhere” along the north shore of Fontana Lake in Smoky Mountains National Park was too expensive and too destructive to build. This resulted in the preservation of the largest roadless area in the Southern Appalachians (pictured here) and a $52 million dollar settlement for Swain County to fund schools and other services.
2. The Sugar House Cove Timber Sale
The NEPA process documented a wealth of rare species at the Sugar House Cove Timber Sale in Pisgah National Forest in Big Ivy in 1994. The plans for the timber sale were changed to avoid rare species habitat.
3. The Upper Santeetlah Timber Sale
The NEPA process documented old-growth forests rivaling those at Joyce Kilmer during the Upper Santeetlah Timber Sale in 2010, allowing these trees to gain legal protection.
4. The I-26 Connector Project
NEPA allowed for consideration of additional alternatives for the I-26 Connector Project, including a community-designed alternative that ended up being chosen for the project. NEPA also provided the opportunity for community advocates and the NC Department of Transportation to work together to address concerns so that the final project will be better and cheaper.
5. Bluff Mountain Timber Sale
The NEPA process documented the potential harms of building six miles of road on Bluff Mountain, and allowed Pisgah National Forest to redesign the Bluff Timber Sale so that it would not impact water quality or the Appalachian Trail.