Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter
Over the next few months, our Riverkeepers are teaming up with volunteers to plant “live stakes” along rivers in our region. We’re calling for potential volunteers like you to join us for a live staking day to help make this project a success.
What exactly is a live stake?
A live stake is a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks. The live stake then grows into a tree that reduces sediment erosion. Some of our supporters are surprised to learn that sediment is one of the worst polluters of our rivers, but it’s true – sediment clogs aquatic habitats, increases water temperatures (which is bad news for trout and many other species) and transports toxic substances. Live staking also increases the density of the riparian buffer, which is the vegetated area surrounding a waterway that helps provide shade and filter out substances that normally enter the river from runoff. And since we’ve been planting trees along the rivers for the past few years, we can now take cuttings from those same trees that were live stakes only a few years ago. It’s a cost-effective, natural way to improve water quality and aquatic habitats.
We have our live staking days, which we also call Paddle-n-Plant days, from January to March because live stakes can only be planted while the plants are still dormant. When the spring comes, the stakes’ nodes that were planted underground will sprout roots, helping to hold the riverbank in place.
Help Grow Our Impact
MountainTrue volunteers and our Riverkeepers have planted thousands of trees through our live staking days, and this year our Riverkeepers have set their sights on ways to increase their impact. Watershed Outreach Coordinator Anna Alsobrook’s goal this year is to more accurately determine the survival rate of the live stakes on the French Broad River. By spray-painting the tips of the stakes, she’ll be able to see them more easily from the river during follow up. In the High Country, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill hopes to plant 3,000 stakes by March.
We need your help to make our live staking days a success. It will make a huge difference for the rivers if you sign up for a live staking day here, or donate to MountainTrue to make these efforts possible here.
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.
What’s Going On With the NC Farm Bill?
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.
Before You Go Out on the Watauga: Check the SwimGuide for the Latest Water Quality Reports
Watauga Riverkeeper Monitors Water Quality at Eight Locations; Data Posted to International Website
Swimmers, paddlers and anglers heading out for a day on the river have a new resource for checking water safety, the SwimGuide.org – a website that provides free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers and swimming holes in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas and Australia.
Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue High Country Director Andy Hill runs MountainTrue’s weekly bacteria monitoring program through which volunteers adopt sites and take regular samples.
“The Swim Guide is an amazing resource and our participation is only possible because of our dedicated volunteers,” explains Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue High Country Director Andy Hill. “They’re providing a crucial service to our community, reassuring people and families when it’s safe to get out and swim, fish and paddle.”
Data from our bacteria monitoring program is now loaded up to the SwimGuide.org for the following eight locations:
Guy Ford Road Bridge in Bethel, North Carolina
Price Lake in Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Shook Branch Swimming Area in Hampton, Tennessee
Tester Road AW Access in Butler, Tennessee
Watauga Point Recreation Area, Watauga Lake in Hampton, Tennessee
Watauga RIver 321 Access Upper Gorge Park in Sugar Grove, North Carolina
Watauga River at Valle Crucis Community Park in Banner Elk, North Carolina
Wilbur Dam Put-In, Watauga River at Elizabethton, Tennessee
The monitoring done at sites listed at Swim Guide is to document and alert the public to the elevated e. Coli levels that typically follow heavy rain events. Additionally, MountainTrue also does VWIN (Volunteer Water Information Network) monitoring for chemical parameters and SMIE (Stream Monitoring Information Exchange) monitoring – which documents organisms in the benthic zone to give us a holistic picture of water quality.
Results and historical data are available at swimguide.org. There is also a free smartphone Swim Guide App available for download from Apple App Store and Google Play. A Green status icon means that most recent test results met relevant water quality standards, a red icon means that the most recent tests failed, and a grey icon means that the site hasn’t been tested within the past seven days.
Check the Water Quality of Your Favorite Rivers and Streams
Swim Guide delivers free real-time water quality information for over 7,000 beaches, lakes, rivers, and swimming holes in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, the Bahamas, and Australia.
Calling All Businesses: Our Planet Needs You
Businesses and Groups can compete against each other for a better planet through the #WNCforthePlanet Business & Community Challenge
Asheville, NC – As part of #WNCforthePlanet – a celebration of Earth Day throughout the month of April – local conservation and environmental nonprofits are recruiting businesses, civic groups and community organizations to take part in the Business & Community Challenge. Through this competition, groups compete with each other to earn Planet Points and work for the improvement of our local environment.
The #WNCforthePeople Business & Community Challenge is open to area businesses, civic organizations and community groups, who then recruit teams from among their members to compete for prizes and bragging rights. Companies interested in getting involved should contact Devon Hathaway, Americorps Outings and Education Coordinator at MountainTrue at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (828) 258-8737 ext. 214.
“Environmental stewardship is a core tenet at Mosaic Realty, which is why we’re teaming up with MountainTrue for a workday” said broker and owner Mike Figura. “Mosaic Realty welcomes you to join us and the #WNCforthePlanet team in cleaning up Asheville. We will be putting in a work day at Richmond Hill Park to eradicate invasives and we encourage other local businesses to get involved with service projects in April.”
Teams commit to one or more service projects throughout the month of April and are paired up with a #WNCforthePlanet partner nonprofit organization which will provide staff guidance and equipment for a day of working on behalf of a cleaner and greener WNC. Groups earn Planet Points according to how much they accomplish and the strenuousness of the project. Each team’s score is calculated according to a difficulty scale and averaged on a per-person basis. At the end of the month we tally the Planet Points, rank teams, name victors and hand out awards and prizes.
Available service projects include river cleanups, native habitat restoration, trail workdays and more. The team with the first, second, and third most Planet Points will choose from prizes, including a river float with MountainTrue, RiverLink and Asheville Greenworks, a hike led by the Southern Appalachians Highland Conservancy, or a private tour of New Belgium Brewing. Victors will honored on wncfortheplanet.org and through the social media of participating #WNCforthePlanet partners.
Register your team today. Contact Devon Hathaway, Americorps Outings and Education Coordinator at MountainTrue at email@example.com or by calling (828) 258-8737 ext. 214.
About WNC for the Planet:
WNC for the Planet is a collective made up of local environmental organizations that provides access to service, educational, and recreational opportunities in recognition of Earth Month. We strive to unify our community to encourage and celebrate environmental stewardship for our planet and the region. wncfortheplanet.org