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. 

Asphalt plant victory: You made this happen!

Asphalt plant victory: You made this happen!

Asphalt plant victory: You made this happen!

Community members celebrate in front of the Historic Courthouse in Hendersonville yesterday.

Southern Regional Director & Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan shared this message with MountainTrue’s Henderson County supporters today, June 2 2021.

We did it! Once again, our community came together to defeat an asphalt plant proposal that would harm community health, clean water and local public lands. Yesterday, just a few hours before the Board of Commissioners meeting where the final decision would be made, the developer withdrew his application because he knew he didn’t have the votes. Your support for this effort marks the second time we’ve defeated this dangerous proposal for East Flat Rock.

I’m writing to say thank you. Defeating this proposal meant showing up to community meetings, writing public comments and sitting through hours of County Commission hearings – all because you believed in the power of community organizing. For some of you this was your first time making a public comment at a hearing. I know it’s not always easy to put yourself out there, and MountainTrue and Friends of East Flat Rock are so grateful that you did.

Beyond that, this was the second time our community put in so much time and energy to challenge this proposal, and during a pandemic that was already so stressful for all of us. I’m encouraged by the resilience of our members to speak up and turn out, even during challenging times.

A special thanks goes out to Michelle Tennant Nicholson and Shannon Nicholson for leading the organizing effort, as well as the core group of community leaders that met weekly to strategize along the way. East Flat Rock is an amazing community and despite the unfortunate circumstances, I hope that this has brought many of you closer together as neighbors than ever before.

In the coming months, Henderson County will begin the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan that will guide development in our area for decades to come. I hope you’ll stay engaged in this effort to help shape the vision for future growth while protecting our communities and natural resources. You’ve seen during this advocacy effort how important the Comprehensive Plan is when our elected and appointed leaders are forced to make tough decisions about land use, and you are important to steering the conversation about the future of our community.

I hope you’re feeling some relief and celebrating today. Thank you for being part of this win.









Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director & Green Riverkeeper

One Million Gallons of Sewage Overflowed into Western North Carolina Waterways during Six Month Period

One Million Gallons of Sewage Overflowed into Western North Carolina Waterways during Six Month Period

One Million Gallons of Sewage Overflowed into Western North Carolina Waterways during Six Month Period

Photo credit: Alan Cressler, USGS. Public domain.

Asheville, NC —  More than one million gallons of sewage overflowed from inadequate wastewater infrastructure into the French Broad River and other area waterways in Western North Carolina according to state data acquired and analyzed by MountainTrue. The data was collected from August 3, 2020 until March 4, 2021 by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Asheville Regional office and is the best available estimate of the amount of sewage that overflows from wastewater infrastructures such as pipes and manhole covers into area rivers and streams across 19 counties of western North Carolina.


We know the sources of E. coli pollution. Now we have the solutions to clean up our rivers. Advocated for major investments in wastewater infrastructure, and stand up for science-based policies to help farmers fence cattle out of streams and property owners fix their septic systems.

MountainTrue, a local conservation organization, monitors water quality throughout Western North Carolina and in Union and Towns counties in North Georgia for pollution, including levels of E. coli — an indicator of the presence of bacteria and other pathogens that are harmful to human health. The organization has documented a dramatic increase in bacteria pollution of the French Broad River Watershed over the past two years and concerning trends in other area watersheds.

“What we have seen over the past few years has me worried about the future of river recreation on the French Broad River,” explains Hartwell Carson, MountainTrue’s French Broad Riverkeeper. “Take Pearson Bridge in Asheville’s River Arts District: That site passed the EPA’s safe threshold for swimming 81% of the time in 2016. Then in 2020, that site failed 81% of the time. Or Mud Creek in Henderson County, that site used to be safe at least 50% of the time and now it fails 93% of our tests.”

In April, MountainTrue released results from DNA testing that showed leaks from sewer and wastewater infrastructure were significant sources of bacteria pollution in the French Broad Watershed. The six-month sewer system overflow data from DEQ underscores those findings and supports part of MountainTrue’s policy agenda: reducing human-derived bacteria contamination by fixing our broken sewer and wastewater systems.

“The French Broad River is a significant public resource and a linchpin for our local economy” explains Hartwell Carson. “Protecting it will require action on the part of elected officials and agency personnel at all levels of government. Through our iloverivers.org advocacy campaign, we succeeded in getting the City of Asheville to participate in a Storm Water Taskforce. In the General Assembly, we’re advocating for targeted clean water investments to be included in this years budget, such as $3 million for septic system and wastewater upgrades through the Community Conservation Assistance Program, and $26 million to help farmers keep cattle and stormwater runoff out of our rivers through the Agricultural Cost Share Program and the Agricultural Water Resource Assistance Program. In Congress, we’re calling on our delegation to support the $111 billion in the American Jobs Plan that is allocated for water infrastructure.”

The public can read more about the issues affecting water quality, and advocate for the policies and reforms needed to fix them at iloverivers.org.

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

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator (Hendersonville)

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator (Hendersonville)

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator (Hendersonville)

MountainTrue, through AmeriCorps Project Conserve, is seeking dedicated individuals to fill 4 full-time positions serving critical conservation needs in western North Carolina. Each full-time member will serve 1700 hours from September 1, 2021 through July 31, 2022. Members serve with host site organizations working to protect the unique natural resources of the southern Blue Ridge Mountain region.

Members connect people with nature and enhance quality of life through conservation education, volunteer recruitment/coordination, and trail creation/improvement. Members also improve environmental conditions in WNC through activities including habitat restoration, water quality monitoring, and public land and river improvements projects.

Project Conserve strives to foster a culture that celebrates and supports equity, diversity, and inclusion, learning and continuous improvement, and high-quality community service. AmeriCorps positions provide unique opportunities for members to develop leadership and professional skills to support their future career goals. Members participate in training and service days up to three days per month with the full Project Conserve team and on an ongoing basis as part of their host site service. Training may cover a broad range of topics including conflict resolution, wilderness first aid and CPR/AED, project planning, non-native invasive species identification, trail construction, volunteer management, and education program development.

Water Quality Administrator Position Summary:
This position encompasses many facets: working with volunteers on many levels (recruiting, training, mentoring, organizing); learning and understanding meaningful ways to connect applied science to community needs at the local level; evaluating, designing, and implementing impactful programming for the betterment of the community and environment; and collaborating with all types of groups, from government agencies to civic organizations, school groups, other nonprofits, and community groups. The member is in charge of communications with the Water Quality Team, administers resources for all WQ-focused programs, and connects with the broader community to solve water quality challenges.

Qualifications – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Related educational background preferred: environmental sciences/studies, natural resource
    management, sustainability/technology, etc.
  • Experience working with or managing volunteers of various demographics preferred
  • Public Speaking experience a plus
  • Member must possess excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Google suite, Facebook, and GIS preferred
  • Eligible applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States, and consent to a criminal history check.

Preferred Service Hours / Weekly Schedule:
9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, some evenings and weekends

Position Responsibilities and Duties:

Conservation Education: 20%

  • Collaborate with other organizations to organize and execute Kids in the Creek and other water quality youth education events;
  • Focus educational efforts around climate change adaptation and mitigation, litter and plastic pollution, and other emerging areas of interest;
  • Collaborate with other organizations to conduct public education events across Transylvania, Henderson, Polk, and Rutherford Counties;
  • Pursue other opportunities to engage with children through local schools, etc.

At-Risk Ecosystems and Trails: 30%

  • Plan and assist with live-staking events in the region;
  • Utilize water quality data to prioritize and address water quality issues;
  • Conduct stream clean-ups and other work days

Volunteer Infrastructure Program: 50%

  • Lead MountainTrue’s Southern Regional Office Clean Water Team;
  • Manage the SMIE biomonitoring, VWIN chemical monitoring, Swim Guide bacteria monitoring, and microplastic monitoring programs through effective volunteer recruitment, training, and management;
  • Expand the reach of the Adopt-A-Stream program; Coordinate Big Sweep and other volunteer focused stream clean-up events;
  • Host a volunteer appreciation event;
  • Help guide the organization’s efforts around equity, diversity, and inclusion by targeting volunteer recruitment and service activities to reach underserved people and communities;
  • Pursue other opportunities to engage volunteers as they arise

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to fulfilling host site service responsibilities, all Project Conserve members are required to fully participate in team trainings, service projects and statewide AmeriCorps events. Project Conserve team events will occur approximately twice per month in locations throughout the service area and may require up to three overnight stays.

Eligibility Requirements
Applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the commencement of service
  • Be available and commit to full-time service for the entire service term: members will serve a minimum of 1700 hours over the 11-month term, which is roughly full-time (40 hours per week).
  • Consent to a criminal history check and be cleared for service
  • Meet minimum education requirements (see individual service descriptions)
  • Meet additional qualifications as listed in the service descriptions
  • Meet essential functions for each position as listed in the individual service descriptions


Compensation & Benefits
For full-time (1700 hour) positions in the 2021-2022 program year, members will receive:

  • $16,350 living stipend (paid in equal installments via direct deposit, twice per month, minus taxes)
  • Health insurance reimbursement if eligible. Members are eligible for reimbursement for the full cost of a Health Insurance Marketplace bronze or catastrophic plan, OR up to $100 for a higher-level Marketplace plan. Members who maintain health insurance through a parent or spouse’s employer are not eligible for reimbursement.
  • Childcare assistance if eligible. See eligibility requirements for full-time members enrolled in AmeriCorps State & National programs on the AmeriCorps Childcare Fact Sheet
  • Education award of $6,345 upon successful completion of the program. This award can be used to repay qualified student loans and to pay current educational expenses at eligible institutions of higher education and training programs. Learn more about the Segal AmeriCorps Education Award on AmeriCorps.gov
  • Mentorship, training, and professional development opportunities. Training may include Wilderness First Aid, CPR/AED, Conflict Resolution, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and more



To Apply
Position to start on or after September 1st so please apply as soon as possible by emailing your resume and completed Project Conserve Application Form to susan@mountaintrue.org. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with known physical / mental disabilities.

Take Action For Funding To Map Landslide Hazard Areas In WNC

Take Action For Funding To Map Landslide Hazard Areas In WNC

Take Action For Funding To Map Landslide Hazard Areas In WNC

Action Expired


Landslides in our mountains are a threat to homes, roads, drinking water, and even lives. But we can make our communities safer if we know where to expect them. Call on the NC Senate to continue funding for the mapping of dangerous landslide hazard areas in Western North Carolina below!

To make sure we know where landslide risks exist in our mountains, the NC Department of Environmental Quality began mapping these areas back in 2005. This program was halted in 2011 and then restarted in 2018 with funding from the NC General Assembly. However, the funding for the highly trained, technical mapping staff – the staff who are the boots on the ground for this work – will run out this June. We need to make sure this important work continues!

As climate change causes more frequent and heavy rainstorms, landslides become more common and dangerous. In fact, every record rainfall our region has experienced in the past decade has come along with a sharp increase in landslides. Over the last few years, these landslides have:

  • Destroyed and condemned homes across the region
  • Killed people in Watauga, Polk and Macon counties
  • Impacted a major gas line in Polk County
  • Blocked key roads like I-40 in Haywood County and US 19/74 in Swain County for weeks
  • Moved significant excess sediment into Franklin’s drinking water supply

To make our communities more resilient to future landslides, we must first understand where the risks are so we can plan, prepare, and adapt accordingly. Take action below to call on your State Senator to include funding to continue the landslide hazard mapping program in this year’s budget.

To make your message most effective, we highly encourage you to personalize it and explain why this issue matters to you!