Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Press Release: Whitewater Kayakers Receive Grant to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Whitewater Kayakers Receive $8,000 Grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County to Save Hemlock Trees in Green River Gorge

Media Contact:       
Gray Jernigan
Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director, MountainTrue
E: gray@mountaintrue.org  P: (828) 692-0385 x 1004

Nov. 9, 2018

Hendersonville, NC – The Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT), a group of whitewater kayakers, nonprofit and government partners working to save hemlock trees in the Green River Gorge, has received an $8,000 grant from the Perry N. Rudnick Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation of Henderson County. PHHAT’s mission is to save hemlock trees from the hemlock woolly adelgid, a non-native invasive insect from East Asia that is decimating hemlock tree populations in the Southeast.

The grant from the Community Foundation of Henderson County will fund this work for the next year and purchase equipment for PHHAT volunteers teams. “The health of the Green is so closely tied with the health of the hemlocks,” said Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper and Southern Regional Director of MountainTrue. “We are so grateful for this funding to allow us to continue this project for another year and save more trees that are vitally important to the forest and river ecosystem.”

Many of the largest hemlocks along the Green River are found in the Green River Gorge, whose steep terrain make the trees inaccessible by foot. Since 2017, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the Hemlock Restoration Initiative, American Whitewater and MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper have come together to train local paddlers in hemlock treatment techniques and safety protocols. The paddlers then navigate the Green River’s tricky waters to bury pellets of a hydrophobic pesticide around the roots of hemlock trees. Currently the only reliable remedy, this treatment protects the trees for up to 5 years.

As a foundation species, hemlock trees play a vital role in structuring ecosystems. Active when deciduous trees are not, hemlock trees stabilize riverbanks, regulate river flows, and balance river temperatures, among other important functions.

The hemlock woolly adelgid feeds off the trees’ sap and starch, disrupting their nutrient processes and eventually killing off the trees. First reported in Virginia in 1951, the hemlock woolly adelgid has spread to 20 states from Georgia to Maine and one Canadian province.

“As land managers, we often rely on the help of volunteers and partners to expand the capacity of work needed to conserve our Game Lands,” said Ryan Jacobs, Wildlife Forest Manager for NC Wildlife Resources Commission. “The work these paddlers are taking on here at Green River would never have happened without their passion for this special place.”

“Our hope is to see our program mirrored in other waterways across the region and even around the nation,” said Kevin Colburn, National Stewardship Director for American Whitewater. “As kayakers, it’s great to be able to give back to some of the places that have given us so much as a community.”

For additional information on the project, please visit paddlersforhemlocks.com.

MountainTrue champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in Western North Carolina. To this end, MountainTrue fosters and empowers advocates throughout the region to be engaged in policy and project advocacy, outreach and education, and on-the-ground projects.

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is the state government agency tasked with conserving and sustaining the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use and public input. The Commission is also the regulatory agency responsible for enforcing the state’s fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws.  

The Hemlock Restoration Initiative, a program of WNC Communities, works with the NCDA&CS, the USDA-FS and others to ensure that eastern and Carolina hemlocks can withstand the deadly hemlock woolly adelgid and survive to maturity on North Carolina’s public and private lands.

American Whitewater advocates for the preservation and protection of whitewater rivers throughout the United States, and connects the interests of human-powered recreational river users with ecological and science-based data to achieve the goals within its mission.

The Community Foundation of Henderson County supports charitable programs in the greater Henderson County area. Founded in 1982, the Community Foundation administers over 500 funds with assets of over $100 million.

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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.

Green Riverkeeper Documents Massive Sediment Pollution from World Equestrian Games

Green Riverkeeper Documents Massive Sediment Pollution from World Equestrian Games

As the World Equestrian Games kicked off, our Green Riverkeeper, Gray Jernigan, travelled to White Oak Creek to sample water for turbidity and sediment levels and found evidence of massive water quality violations at the Tryon International Equestrian Center.

Upstream from the Wold Equestrian Center, Gray’s turbidity meter read a relatively clean 13.3 NTU or Nephelometric Turbidity Units – the measure of the concentration of suspended sediment in liquid. The North Carolina sediment standard for water quality is 50 NTU.

Downstream from the Center, Gray’s turbidity meter maxed out at 999 NTU!

This is irresponsible development and illegal pollution. Sediment runoff from construction or other land-disturbing activities is required to be controlled onsite, and if it isn’t it destroys habitat, kills aquatic life and carries along bacteria such as E. coli and other pollutants. We have reported the violations to state officials. We’ll keep you updated as we find out more. To follow the Green Riverkeeper, follow him on Instagram or Facebook.


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.

Hendersonville Green Drinks: Why Bees?

Hendersonville Green Drinks: Why Bees?

On Thursday, September 13, Hendersonville Green Drinks welcomes Jim Poe with the Henderson County Beekeepers Association. He will talk about why bees are getting so much attention these days – what’s the big deal! The immense value of bees to the production of food is difficult to calculate, but suffice it to say, it’s not just honey that benefits humans. Photographer turned beekeeper, Poe manages 34 of his own hives, plus helps others with theirs. 

Who: Jim Poe, Henderson County Beekeepers Association
What: September’s Green Drinks Topic: Why Bees?
When: September 13, 2018 – 5:30 networking, 6:00 presentation
Where: Black Bear Coffee, 318 N. Main St. Hendersonville, NC

Having lived in Hendersonville as a youngster, Jim Poe moved back to continue his 30-year career as a photographer by opening a studio on Haywood Road, James Poe Photography. Then, after a 6-year stint in Southwest Colorado, he moved back to western NC again. He says, “Although photography has been great to me, it’s honeybees that now have my heart!” In 2014 he attended a Bee School put on by the Henderson County Beekeepers Association and was hooked! Poe now serves on their board as Director of External Communications; and considers bees almost a full-time job.

About Hendersonville Green Drinks
Hendersonville Green Drinks is presented by MountainTrue, Conserving Carolina and Black Bear Coffee Company. Come to Green Drinks to learn more about current environmental issues, have relevant discussions, and meet with like-minded people. This is a monthly event and everyone is welcome. You don’t have to drink at Green Drinks, just come and listen. Black Bear Coffee offers beer, wine, coffee drinks and sodas. A limited food menu is available.


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.

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Sept. 8: Take Part in Big Sweep!

Join GreenWorks and MountainTrue’s French Broad, Green and Watauga Riverkeepers for the 2018 Big Sweep  – Western North Carolina’s largest single-day river, roadside and creek cleanup. Last year, we broke records for attendance and tons of litter and garbage removed from our rivers, streams and roadsides. This year, help us do even more by taking part in a cleanup event at Westfeldt River Park in Mills River, the Green River Gorge in Saluda, Lake Adger or along the Watauga River.

Cleanups are paired with after parties at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River and Appalachian Mountain Brewery, where cleanup volunteers will gather to celebrate their hard work and enjoy great beer.

GreenWorks, French Broad Riverkeeper and Green Riverkeeper After Party at Sierra Nevada: After the cleanups, join the French Broad Riverkeeper and the Green Riverkeeper at Sierra Nevada for an after party with beer and live music. Everyone will have a chance to win some great prizes from ENO, NOC, and more.

Watauga Riverkeeper After Party at Appalachian Mountain Brewery: After the cleanup, join the Watauga Riverkeeper at Appalachian Mountain Brewery (AMB) in Boone to celebrate our hard work and enjoy some great beer. AMB is a founding business and community leader for the One Percent for the Watauga initiative. So, come drink some great local beer and help protect the river at the same time.

2018 Big Sweep sponsors are 98.1 the River, French Broad Outfitters, Mills River Partnership, Asheville Outdoor Center, Lazy Otter Outfitters, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Nantahala Outdoors Center (NOC) and Eagles Nest Outfitter (ENO).

— Sept. 8 Big Sweep Events  —

French Broad River Watershed:

  • Westfeldt Park Cleanup with Sierra Nevada Brewing After Party: Join GreenWorks and the French Broad Riverkeeper for a float, cleanup of our river, and an after party at Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Mills River location. The first ten folks to register will receive the 2018 Recover Brands Riverkeeper Beer Series shirt. Register here. 

Green River Watershed:

  • Green Whitewater Cleanup: Paddle the whitewater of the Green River Gorge and help us pick of litter and haul out river debris along the way. After party at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River. Please bring your own boat! Meet at: 2302 Green River Cove Rd, Saluda, NC 28773
  • Lake Adger Cleanup: Meet us the Lake Adger Boat Ramp and Marina to help us clean up beautiful Lake Adger and its shoreline. After party at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River. Meet at: https://goo.gl/maps/m1coW8qfTMJ2  

    Register for both cleanups here.

Watauga River Watershed:

  • Watauga River Cleanup at Guy Ford Road River Access: Meet us at the Guy Ford Road River Access and help us clean up this popular swimming hole and recreation area. Register here.

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

What’s Going On With the NC Farm Bill?

6/26/2018

Last night Governor Roy Cooper vetoed SB711, a dangerous bill that would greatly limit the constitutional right of North Carolinians living near industrial hog farms to seek justice in the courts for nuisance and pollution of their air and water. The General Assembly will vote later this week on whether or not to override Governor Cooper’s veto.

This is when we need your calls more than ever. Will you make a quick call to your state representative now to make sure Governor Cooper’s veto of SB711 stands? If you don’t know who your representative is, you can use the “Who Represents Me?” tool on the NC General Assembly website here, and find your representative’s phone number here.

 

The Facts About SB711:

  • This bill was drafted to protect Smithfield Foods, an out-of-state industrial hog operation owned by Chinese business interests, from a lawsuit brought by neighbors of industrial hog farms in Eastern NC. The intention is to protect a foreign corporation from liability where rural communities of color are disproportionately impacted by operations they own or control through contracts.
  • This bill is not about protecting farmers, it’s about protecting profits. All of the pending lawsuits are against Smithfield through its subsidiary, Murphy-Brown. The only entity paying damages (or potentially liable) in these cases is Smithfield. While some of the facilities are operated by contract growers, the only defendant in the lawsuits is Smithfield.
  • SB711 allows only neighbors within half a mile of an industrial farm to file a lawsuit, but the claim must be brought within one year of the establishment of the operation. Since there’s been a moratorium on new hog CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations, also known as large industrial animal operations) since 1997, new operations are not being established. This prevents any neighbor from being able to pursue a nuisance suit. This runs contrary to nuisance theory (and general statute of limitations) where the claim arises when the harm actually occurs, not when the potential for harm begins.
  • This is not to mention neighbors of industrial farms who live more than half a mile away, who will have no longer have any standing to sue for nuisance. Water pollution moves animal waste hundreds of miles downstream, and odor and bacteria are carried by the wind, so neighbors farther than half a mile from hog farms will continue to be effected.
  • SB711 would also severely limit local governments’ ability to regulate large agriculture operations – including poultry plants.

You can still take action. If your state representative voted YES on SB711, ask them to support Governor Cooper’s veto. If your NC House Representative voted NO on SB711, call and thank them for supporting North Carolina homeowners, and ask them to stand strong to support Governor Cooper’s veto of this dangerous bill.  Here’s how some of WNC’s House Reps. voted on SB711:

Chuck McGrady (Henderson): No

Cody Henson (Henderson, Polk, Transylvania): Yes

Kevin Corbin (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon): Yes

Jonathan C. Jordan (Ashe, Watauga): Yes

Michele D. Presnell (Haywood, Madison, Yancey): Yes

Susan C. Fisher (Buncombe): No

John Ager (Buncombe): No

Brian Turner (Buncombe): No

Tim Moore (Cleveland): Yes

Mike Clampitt (Haywood, Jackson, Swain): Yes

Josh Dobson (Avery, McDowell, Mitchell): Yes

And for the record, here’s part of the statement Governor Cooper released after his veto:

“North Carolina’s nuisance laws can help allow generations of families to enjoy their homes and land without fear for their health and safety. Those same laws stopped the Tennessee Valley Authority from pumping air pollution into our mountains…Giving one industry special treatment at the expense of its neighbors is unfair.”

 

Thank you for standing up for North Carolina homeowners and for clean air and water in the state we love.


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.

Success Story: MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Helps Avoid Shooting Range Next to Green River Game Land

Success Story: MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Helps Avoid Shooting Range Next to Green River Game Land

The proposed shooting range brought water quality, public input concerns

 

We did it! After a week of whirlwind organizing, residents of Saluda and the greater Henderson County area are celebrating victory as Hendersonville County Commissioners have promised to back away from building a proposed shooting range and law enforcement training center. The facility would have been built on a 99-acre lot on Macedonia Road and bordering the Green River Game Land.

“As our region continues to grow, we have to consider what type of development we want to see and how we can strike a balance between the influx of people moving to our beautiful area and the protection of our special places and rural character,” says Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper. “That takes careful planning and an engaged citizenry who will put their foot down to stop a bad idea in its tracks when necessary.”

 

Threat to Community, Public Lands

And why was this an issue MountainTrue cared about? “We ha[d] lots of concerns about lead contamination and water quality, noise impacts on wildlife, sedimentation from land clearing and development, and potential steep slope development and landslide risk,” Gray told MountainTrue members in an email and the Hendersonville Lightning in an interview. The wetlands and streams at the proposed site drain directly to the Green River, which is also a water supply watershed, and lead contamination from bullets posed a water quality threat.

Residents pointed out that they were opposed to the site chosen for the shooting range, and not to shooting itself. Resident Carl McMurray said, “I’m a gun owner. I’m a pretty avid shooter. That’s not the issue. My issue is with the traffic and noise.”

 

Put On Notice

A small number of Saluda residents unexpectedly received letters from the Sheriff this month informing them that their properties would be affected by the construction of the project. The letters invited them to an information session at the proposed site on Saturday, April 14, but so many people were expected to attend that the Sheriff moved the location of the meeting to the courthouse in Hendersonville late Friday afternoon. Again, only a handful of residents were notified of the change.

Gray became active in opposing the shooting range early on, coordinating with local residents and mobilizing MountainTrue members. He postponed a river cleanup on Saturday to attend the information session and invited paddlers, but the session happening inside was not open to the public or the media. Gray joined other residents in expressing concern about the public input process, telling the Hendersonville Times-News, “It seems strange that a project that implicates public land would be closed to the public.”

 

“More Emails Than Residents of Saluda”

The community regrouped for a meeting the following Monday, April 16 to keep organizing. A couple hundred people turned out to the Saluda Fire and Rescue Department to share their concerns about the project and plan the next steps for their response. They encouraged their fellow community members to flood the Henderson County Commissioners with emails, and Commissioner Grady Hawkins later said he had received “more emails than there are residents of Saluda” opposing the shooting range.

Two days later, Saluda turned out in force again for a County Commissioners meeting on April 18. The shooting range project was not on the agenda, but when the Commissioners saw the turnout of concerned citizens, they quickly amended the schedule to include discussion. This was the first time that County officials talked publicly about the project, which likely would not have happened without citizens getting involved.

 

Success, Less Than A Week Later

Over 70 MountainTrue members and citizens submitted public comments to the Commissioners at the meeting, discussing potential impacts on the environment, their communities, local businesses, and quality of life. At the end of several hours of public comment, the Commissioners reiterated their commitment to back away from pursuing this site.

Henderson County is still under contract on the property and has an option to purchase it until the end of May. The County had already signed contracts with inspectors and consultants to prepare a due diligence report on the property, so the Commissioners decided to fulfill those obligations and will wait to receive the report at their May 16 meeting before officially abandoning the project.

Want To Learn More About Our Work in Saluda and Henderson County?


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.