November 2020 E-Vistas Newsletter

November 2020 E-Vistas Newsletter

November 2020 E-Vistas Newsletter

Join MountainTrue this #GivingTuesday for a very special virtual screening of the 5Point Adventure Film Festival! We’ll be screening a selection of inspiring films from the 2020 Festival.

5Point Film Festival is built on five guiding principles: respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance, and the belief that we can all be ambassadors of the environment. The festival inspires us to explore wild places and return with a renewed vigor to protect our natural world. Proceeds from the event support our conservation work. 
Get your tickets and enter to win our raffle.

 

MountainTrue Co-Director Julie Mayfield Elected To NC State Senate

MountainTrue’s Co-Director Julie Mayfield has won her race to represent Senate District 49 in the North Carolina State Senate. In a letter to our members, Julie explains what this means for the organization, her work schedule and our legislative advocacy work. Read more.

 

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

2020 has brought record visitation to public lands in our region, with many of the people visiting these lands doing so for the first time. While the new wave of interest is exciting, the crowds and all the newcomers have also brought growing pains in the form of overflowing parking lots, trash bins, and piles of litter. MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist, Josh Kelly, shares some ideas in this blog post about how we can all encourage newcomers to be better stewards of our public lands. Read more.

 

Take Action: Stand Up For Solar Power In Western North Carolina

A proposal to build a large-scale solar farm on top of a retired landfill in Woodfin is in jeopardy. Will you call on the NC Utilities Commission to approve this important clean energy project?

To meet the challenge of climate change, we need North Carolina to move forward on large-scale renewable energy projects like this solar farm, and quickly. This will bring the benefits of new solar energy directly to our community: new solar jobs, reducing local carbon emissions and making real progress on our renewable energy goals. At the same time, building solar on low-value land like a landfill preserves other land for new affordable housing, tree canopy, public spaces and other highly sought after uses in our region. Learn more about the Woodfin solar farm proposal and take action to support it here!

 

Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers This Holiday Season

As we approach the holiday season, it’s a good time to think about where that turkey, pork, or beef comes from that will round out our family meals. In this post, Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell discusses how farming practices have changed over time and how we can be more conscientious about where we buy this year’s holiday feast.
Read more and find your local, sustainable farmers.

 

High Country Regional News

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

Live Staking Workdays Resume

Live staking volunteers plant live cuttings of trees and shrubs to reduce sediment pollution.

Fall brings warmer colors and cooler weather to our mountains. It also ushers in our live staking season – the time of year when we plant live cuttings of dormant trees along stream banks. In the spring, these cuttings grow into trees that help prevent soil erosion, filter stormwater runoff and create vital aquatic habitat.

Each year, we set a goal for ourselves to plant 10,000 trees along stream and riverbanks in the Watauga River Watershed. Will you join an upcoming work day to help make the Watauga River more resilient? Visit our events page at mountaintrue.org to sign up.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT) Is Back In Action!

The experienced paddlers of the PHHAT team head down the Green River to treat hemlock trees.

MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan, in partnership with Hemlock Restoration Initiative, American Whitewater and NC Wildlife Resources Commission, is back to work with the Padders Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT) to help preserve hemlock trees in the Green River Gorge. These trees are under threat due to the deadly hemlock woolly adelgid, but can be saved with proper treatment. The PHHAT team treats hemlock trees in the steepest areas of the Green River Game Lands, which are unreachable by foot and require the special skills of paddlers to access them by water.

If you are an experienced whitewater paddler and would like to join the PHHAT team, our last work day this fall will be on the Upper Green River this Sunday, November 22, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Please email gray@mountaintrue.org to RSVP. PHHAT will host more work days next spring.

 

SMIE Biomonitoring Season Finished Strong Despite Challenges

SMIE volunteers inspect water bugs to gauge the health of our rivers and streams.

Over 30 volunteers in MountainTrue’s Southern Region conducted Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) sampling at 24 sites this fall, including two new sites in the Broad River Watershed. SMIE is a program where community scientists sample streams for water bugs, which tell us important information about the health of these aquatic ecosystems. Despite the organizing challenges posed by the pandemic and extra precautions necessary to keep everyone safe, our volunteers rallied to get it done. SMIE sampling is conducted twice a year in the spring and fall. Keep your eye out for this volunteer opportunity in spring of 2021!

Western Regional News

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

1.8 Tons of Trash Removed From Lake Chatuge Shoreline

Longtime cleanup participant Benjamin Davis won the prize for most creative photo from this year’s cleanup!

More than 50 volunteers showed up for MountainTrue’s 10th Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup on November 7. Together, we were able to clean up 1.8 tons of trash from the lake’s shoreline. That brings our 10-year total to nearly 14 tons of trash! We especially appreciate the participation of the Rotary Club of Lake Chatuge-Hiawassee and Cub Scout Pack 407.

In addition to our wonderful volunteers, we couldn’t be successful in this effort without the valuable contributions of our partners. Tennessee Valley Authority provided bags, gloves and grant sponsorship, the US Forest Service Blue Ridge Ranger District provided the big dump truck and driver, and Towns County Government provided the pavilion and disposed of all the trash for free.

 

Join Us On December 12 To Help Control Invasive Plants At Island Park in Bryson City

Photo caption: Severing vines of kudzu, oriental bittersweet and honeysuckle is the first step to controlling non-native invasive plants at Island Park.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to get rid of kudzu? Do you enjoy working with your hands and helping our public lands? Then we have a volunteer opportunity for you. MountainTrue has joined forces with the Tuckasegee River Alliance to eradicate non-native invasive plants at Bryson City’s Island Park, which is currently closed to the public pending storm damage repairs.

This beautiful island in the Tuckasegee River hosts a riparian forest with some very large trees. However, infestations of non-native invasive plants threaten its biological diversity. Join us on Saturday, December 12 from 11 am to 2 pm to learn how to identify and control non-native invasive plants and help bring native plants back to Island Park! No prior experience is necessary, and tools and training will be provided. Email Tony Ward, MountainTrue’s Western Region Program Coordinator, with any questions. 
Register here for the Island Park Invasive Plant Volunteer Work Session!

 

Native Trees And Shrubs Improve Water Quality

Volunteers plant native trees and shrubs along a small stream at the Georgia Mountain Research & Education Center in January 2019.

More than 50 of you purchased native trees and shrubs at our Annual Native Tree and Shrub sale this year, raising $3,000 to support our work protecting riparian buffers in the Western Region!

The native trees and shrubs that make up our riparian buffers are key components to healthy streams, rivers and lakes. Streamside riparian buffers provide a wide variety of functions, including filtering pollution from runoff, trapping excess soil and taking up nutrients. As a result, these buffers keep water temperatures cooler, prevent erosion and loss of land and provide food and shelter for wildlife. MountainTrue staff and volunteers spend a good deal of time removing non-native invasive plants along streams and lake shorelines to ensure that the native vegetation stays healthy and protects water quality.

Not only do the proceeds from the native tree and shrub sale support this work, but the trees purchased are also a great way for landowners to improve their own stream, river and lake fronts. The dormant season (November-March) is the best time to plant woody trees and shrubs so that they can develop a strong root system before putting energy into flowers, leaves and fruit in the spring.
Watch this short video to learn the proper way to plant your potted tree or shrub!

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Dec. 1: Virtual 5Point Adventure Film Festival Screening
Join us this #GivingTuesday for a virtual film festival full of inspiring short films about outdoor adventurers and the planet they love. Proceeds support the work of MountainTrue.

Dec. 10: Virtual Hendersonville Green Drinks: Recycling – What Can And Can’t Be Recycled, And Why!
Christine Wittmeier, the Environmental Programs Coordinator for Henderson County, will discuss the ins and outs of recycling and how “wishful recycling can cause big problems for recycling programs.”

Dec. 12: High Country Live Staking Work Day In Sugar Grove
Fight sediment pollution and erosion with Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill by planting live stakes along streams and river banks.

Dec. 12: Island Park Invasive Plant Work Day In Bryson City
Help restore the native habitat of Island Park with MountainTrue and the Tuckasegee River Alliance.

Dec. 16: MountainTrue University: Rethinking Smart Growth
Join Chris Joyell of the Asheville Design Center as he tackles difficult questions about whether smart growth accelerates gentrification.


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.

This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

This Holiday Season, Buy Locally From Sustainable Farmers

As we approach the holiday season, it’s a good time to think about where that turkey, pork, or beef comes from that will round out our family meals. We are fortunate to live in a region where good soil, climate and plentiful water have allowed livestock farmers to thrive for hundreds of years. Farming is a tradition here, but it has continued to change along with our food systems and markets.

Currently in the US, over 95% of our meat comes from factory farms. It hasn’t always been this way. Small family farms of the past were much more diverse, often growing their own vegetables as well as raising cows, pigs and chickens for their own needs and to supply the local markets. The money earned by local farmers stays in the local economy. They are involved in and invest in local communities.

These farmers also know that taking care of the land and water will ensure the survival of their farms. They use best management practices like fencing livestock out of streams, maintaining vegetative buffers, rotational grazing and following a waste management plan to manage, recycle and utilize manure and nutrients effectively. These practices make for happier, healthier animals and protect our environment. As one local farmer, Colfax Creek Farm, puts it, “The goals of creating a better food system, regenerating the land and soils that we farm, and reviving rural communities around us all drive us to always become better farmers and stewards of our lands and animals.”

We are seeing a revival of small sustainable farms, and these farms deserve our support. Most local grocery stores do not carry local meat products, unfortunately. Luckily we have farmers markets, and often the farmers sell directly from their farms. Buying products directly from farmers is a great opportunity to visit a farm and get to know the people who feed us. Additionally, we can support local farmers by eating at local restaurants like Newgrass Brewing Company, which not only source local fruits, grains, and herbs for beer ingredients, but also buy meats from local producers. Roger Holland, owner at Newgrass, says, “It is important to us to support our local farmers as much as possible, and between our kitchen and our brewing operation we are in a unique position to do just that. The local products not only support our local farmers, but in most cases provide a superior product that is reflected in our food and beer quality. We are all in this together and it is critical that we show our support for one another through our actions and decisions.”

Below is a map that our Clean Water Teams have created to help you find environmentally-conscious farmers in your watershed.

Sustainable farming best practices

We’re proud to work with farmers who strive to keep our rivers clean. North Carolina’s Riverkeepers are interested in supporting your sustainability efforts and hearing how you’re making your farm more sustainable.

Vegetative buffers. Buffers with vegetation at least 3-4 inches tall along surface waters and wellheads of no less than 25 feet. Buffers should slow the movement of water over the soil or field surface and stop soil particle and nutrient movement.

Stream protection/fencing and stream restoration. Livestock should be fenced out of streams, ditches and ponds that drain to streams. Restore banks or edges of streams that have been degraded by grazing animals, and improve degraded stream crossings and watering points.

Runoff capture and recycling. Runoff from farm yards or fields should be captured and recycled on the farm.

Feed, forage, barnyard manure and agri-chemical storage and handling. Feeds, forages, fertilizers, and stored manures should be covered and protected from precipitation, runoff and flooding.

Minimize nutrient imports. Optimize nutrient cycling and limit feed imports to the farm. Calculate your farm’s nutrient budget.

Pasturing or loose-housed deep-bedded barns. Livestock, cattle, swine and/or poultry are on pastures with live/growing vegetation or are loose-housed at low density in a roofed structure or barn with bedding to absorb nutrients and facilitate composting.

Managed or “holistic” grazing. Pasture management should maintain 3-4 inches or taller of vegetative cover over more than 95 percent of the pasture area at any time. Avoid overgrazing.

Manure management plan. Farms should have, and follow, a waste management plan to manage, recycle and utilize manure and nutrients effectively, and should never exceed recommended NCDA agronomic rates for any nutrient.

Manure spreading/dispersal. Accumulated manure, as well as bedding or compound fertilizers, should be applied to growing vegetation without exceeding recommended soil levels for nitrogen and phosphorus. Waste should not be spread within 48 hours of precipitation.

Avoid erosion. Use no-till, minimal-till, or reduced or strip tillage to reduce erosion and build organic soil matter, water retention and drainage.


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.

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

Public Lands Are More Popular Than Ever, And They Need Your Help

Based on what I’ve seen this year, local public lands are sure to break some visitation records. I’ve never seen the trails of Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests as crowded as they have been this year. With the pandemic preventing most international travel, and outside being the safest place for people to be, folks have been looking closer to home for travel and recreation options, which has led people to local public lands in droves. Many of those people are getting into the outdoors for the first time. This could be a great thing for public lands and our culture, as more people fall in love with nature and become advocates for conservation. The downside is that many of the newcomers to public land have not yet been educated on how to be good stewards, and that’s where you, our MountainTrue members, come in.

MountainTrue members are conscientious people. You care enough to advocate for clean water, resilient forests, and public lands that are managed for people and native species. Most of you are familiar with Leave No Trace Principles and you follow them. At this particular moment in time, there is a need for you to pick up some slack for the newbies, and also for you to kindly mentor people who are not as educated as you.

The “kind” part is important, because it is essential to grow the constituency for public lands and wild nature. Fewer and fewer people are exposed to nature through their everyday lives, so I am encouraged that so many people are getting exposed to something other than a virus this year. If you see folks that aren’t behaving well in the woods, let them know what they are doing wrong, and how to do it right. Not everyone knows to pack their trash out, or to keep their noise down to respect other people. If you can communicate all of that in a way that’s not condescending or angry, we’ll all gain allies for the places we love.

Just as important (and a whole lot easier!) than the needed social work is to hit the trail ready to leave the land better than you found it. I like to hike with a trash bag and gloves so that I can pick up any trash I find along the way – and there’s a whole lot of trash in the woods this year. I also hike with hand pruners and a hand saw so that I can cut brush or any small trees that fall across the trail. For those of you that are advanced in your identification of non-native invasive plants, it’s a huge help for you to pull the bittersweet, Japanese honeysuckle, privet and garlic mustard you find on the trail.

MountainTrue will highlight particular places that need your help throughout the fall, winter and spring, so keep an eye out for some “choose your own adventure” cleanups we’ll be organizing. Contact MountainTrue Forest Keeper Coordinator Tamia Dame for more information.


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.

Take Action: Call On the NC Utilities Commission to Approve the Woodfin Solar Landfill Project!

Take Action: Call On the NC Utilities Commission to Approve the Woodfin Solar Landfill Project!

 

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.

MT Raleigh Report: First Thoughts on the NC General Assembly Election Results

MT Raleigh Report: First Thoughts on the NC General Assembly Election Results

MT Raleigh Report: First Thoughts on the NC General Assembly Election Results

After millions of dollars in campaign spending, a gazillion political ads and much gnashing of teeth (as well as far too many tweets), the balance of power in the next North Carolina General Assembly is clear. At the state level, all of that politicking has landed us, well, right back where we started.

Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was elected Governor for a second term. And despite many pundits’ predictions to the contrary, Republicans maintained their control of both the state House and the state Senate – but without the veto-proof majorities they enjoyed in the first two years of Cooper’s first term.

So essentially, the elections have given us the same political environment in Raleigh that we’ve had for the last few years. It’s a political arrangement that has produced a good deal of deadlock – on the budget, on Medicaid, and on climate change to name just a few issues – and seems likely to do so again for the next two years.

Unfortunately, the deadlock is likely to get worse. Next year, lawmakers will face a multi-billion dollar shortfall as a result of the pandemic and its impact on the economy. If lawmakers and the Governor could not come to agreement on a budget before the budget crisis, it’s hard to imagine how they will come to agreement on the budget cuts and/or revenue increases that will be necessary to deal with billions in red ink.

On a more positive note, several legislators from WNC who have worked with MountainTrue to help us protect our rivers and streams will return to Raleigh. Senator Chuck Edwards of Henderson County, for example, is the chairman of a key appropriations committee and has helped us secure funding for water quality testing, spill response and expanded public river access for paddlers and other recreation enthusiasts. Likewise Senator Deanna Ballard, who represents counties in the Watauga River basin, has helped us protect and expand access to the river. This has included funding for the Wards Mill Dam removal project. We are also grateful for the return of Representatives John Ager, Brian Turner and Susan Fisher, who have been champions for the French Broad Watershed and MountainTrue’s legislative agenda.

Elsewhere in WNC, however, Representative Ray Russell of Ashe and Watauga Counties and Representative Joe Sam Queen of Haywood, Jackson and Swain – both solid votes for our region’s environment and strong supporters of MountainTrue – were defeated Tuesday.

And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that MountainTrue’s very own Co-Director, Julie Mayfield, is heading to Raleigh in January to represent Buncombe County in the state Senate seat. Julie will fill the seat that was left vacant when former Senator Terry Van Duyn ran for Lieutenant Governor.

That’s probably enough campaign talk for now. Look for updates about MountainTrue’s legislative agenda soon, but until then thank you, again, for your support of our work in WNC and in Raleigh.

District Seat Now Held By Seat Formerly Held By Counties Represented
House 113 Jake Johnson Jake Johnson Henderson, Polk, Transylvania
House 114 Susan C. Fisher Susan C. Fisher Buncombe
House 115 John Ager John Ager Buncombe
House 116 Brian Turner Brian Turner Buncombe
House 117 Tim Moffitt Chuck McGrady Henderson
House 118 Mark Pless Michele Presnell Haywood, Madison, Yancey
House 119 Mike Clampitt Joe Sam Queen Haywood, Jackson, Swain
House 120 Karl Gillespie Kevin Corbin Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon
House 85 Dudley Greene Josh Dobson Avery, McDowell, Mitchell
House 93 Ray Pickett Ray Russell Ashe, Watauga
Senate 45 Deanna Ballard Deanna Ballard Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes
Senate 47 Ralph Hise Ralph Hise Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey
Senate 48 Chuck Edwards Chuck Edwards Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania
Senate 49 Julie Mayfield Terry Van Duyn Buncombe
Senate 50 Kevin Corbin Jim Davis Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain

 


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.

MT Raleigh Report: First Thoughts on the NC General Assembly Election Results

MT Raleigh Report: Time To Vote Early & Planning For Our 2021 Agenda

MT Raleigh Report: Time To Vote Early & Planning For Our 2021 Agenda

Debates, town halls, early voting, campaign ads and voting rights lawsuits – the election season is at its height! So if you don’t have a plan for voting, now is the time to make one. This is a great week to participate in early in-person voting, which allows you to register or update your voter registration and vote at the same time. Remember that you can vote at any early voting site within your county during the early voting period, but must go to your assigned polling location if you vote on Election Day. You can find early voting sites within your county if you live in North Carolina here and if you live in Georgia here. For more information on early voting, visit MountainTrue’s 2020 voter information page. 

While we all wait to see the results of the election, MountainTrue has already started our planning for the 2021 General Assembly. Earlier this month, we convened a half-day planning meeting to develop our first draft of ideas to protect Western North Carolina’s natural resources. We’ll spend the next few weeks refining these ideas, take in the results of the election and then finalize our legislative agenda in November. 

Our goal is to spend December and January talking to legislators – and to members like you – to build support for our 2021 priorities so we can hit the ground running when the legislature begins its 2021 efforts in January. While our to-do list for next year is still being developed, look for proposals to keep our rivers and streams clean, to improve enforcement of water pollution rules and to fund new investments in paddle trails and public access to our most popular rivers and streams. 

Thank you for supporting MountainTrue, and happy voting!


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.