Read Board Chair Katie Breckheimer’s Article on the Southeast Regional Recycling Council Forum for Hendersonville Times-News Here!

Read Board Chair Katie Breckheimer’s Article on the Southeast Regional Recycling Council Forum for Hendersonville Times-News Here!

Dec. 6 2017

MountainTrue Board Chair and Recycling Team member Katie Breckheimer recently wrote an article for the Hendersonville Times-News on the Southeast Regional Council’s fall recycling forum. Check out Katie’s full piece here, and find out more about MountainTrue’s Recycling Team efforts 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.

Fires Creek Tract Acquired For Permanent Conservation In Nantahala National Forest!

Fires Creek Tract Acquired For Permanent Conservation In Nantahala National Forest!

Nov. 30, 2017

MountainTrue is thrilled to celebrate victory in a successful campaign to protect a 50-acre inholding within the Fires Creek watershed in Cherokee and Clay counties for permanent conservation as part of the Nantahala National Forest. We thank the Mainspring Conservation Trust and Fred and Alice Stanback for purchasing this stretch of forest, which will have a tremendous impact in protecting wildlife, water quality, recreation and wilderness in our public lands.

MountainTrue first joined the fight to preserve Fires Creek in 2008, after a proposal to build an access road within just a few feet of Fires Creek. The land, which had been privately owned, was the Fires Creek watershed’s only inholding – a term describing privately owned land inside the boundary of a national forest. The road construction would have required cutting into acid-bearing rock, a process that threatens water quality and has been shown to kill wildlife downstream. Our Public Lands Director & Ecologist, Bob Gale, expressed our opposition to the Forest Service. 

We spoke up again when the Forest Service was prepared to use a provision that did not apply to North Carolina – the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) – in order to build the road, and again when emergency funds that had been allocated following severe storm damage were illegally used to expand a road near Fires Creek. We lead educational trips to Fires Creek, meeting with the Forest Service’s Tusquitee District Ranger and the Roads Engineer of the project to express our concerns, and we made public comments at every stage of the Forest Service’s environmental review process.

This designation will preserve Fires Creek for pristine trout fishing by protecting waters in Laurel Creek and Fires Creek drainages from sediment and acid-producing rock pollution. It will restore the ridge line section of the popular Fires Creek Rim Trail, increase recreational opportunities so more people can enjoy the incredible forests we share, and protect Fires Creek for generations to come. As Bob Gale said recently in the Asheville Citizen-Times, “It’s a win-win for the environment, for ecology, recreation values, the economy, the contiguous ownership of the Forest Service and the protection of water quality.”

For full coverage of the Fires Creek victory in the Citizen-Times, click here.

Want to get involved in our upcoming Forest Management Plan to help us win more conservation victories? Sign up for action opportunities 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.

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

Support Local, Sustainable, Farmers From Your Watershed This Holiday Season!

The following post is by North Carolina’s Riverkeepers through the Waterkeeper Alliance.

 

Dear Friend,

A lot of folks in North Carolina produce meat. The state ranks second nationally in pork production and is among the nation’s leaders in poultry production. But the way meat is produced makes a big difference.

Corporate-controlled industrial animal operations are one of the leading contributors to water pollution across North Carolina. But there are farmers throughout the Tar Heel state striving to provide high-quality food without harming their local communities. And they deserve our thanks and our business.

Waterkeepers across North Carolina have compiled a list of farms in their watersheds that feed us without threatening our rivers, lakes, and streams. The inventory at these farms varies, but they all have one thing in common: they’re trying to do things the right way. If you’re looking to buy a bird for your Thanksgiving feast, we encourage you to buy from one of the farms listed below (we recommend calling to reserve your bird now). And if you aren’t able to buy directly from a farmer, be sure to look for their products at farmers markets and grocery stores in your neighborhood, as many supply to local distributors.

This holiday season, let’s show our appreciation for environmentally conscious farmers who raise meat sustainably and humanely using traditional techniques. Please choose to make your holiday meal even more special by purchasing from true family farms and pledging to buy sustainably-raised meat this holiday season. And when you make your purchase, be sure to thank the farmer for taking steps to protect our environment!

 

Pledge to serve sustainable meat this holiday season here.

 

*Don’t see a sustainable farm in your community on this list? Please let us know!
Cape Fear Watershed
Grass Roots Pork Company
Patch Farmstead
Humble Roots Farm
Changin’ Ways
SF Farms
Old River Farms
AJ Family Farm
Lizzy Lou’s Family Farm
Red Beards Farm
Creeks Edge Farm
Beartrack Farm
Growing Tall Acres
NC Natural Hog Growers AssociationCatawba Watershed
Carolina Farm Trust
Foothills Pilot Plant
All Natural Farms
Bluebird FarmFrench Broad & Broad Watersheds
Buffalo Ridge
Cold Mountain Angus Beef
Farm House Beef
Frog Holler Organiks
Franny’s Farm
Gaining Ground Farm
Happy Hens & Highlands Farm
Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Hominy Valley Farms
Mountain Valley Brand Beef
Warren Wilson College Farm
Haw Watershed
Rocky Run Farm
Cane Creek Farm
Reverence Farms
Braeburn Farms
Piemonte Farm
Twin Oaks Farm
Chapel Hill Creamery
Pine Trough Branch Farm
Beechcrest Farm
Meadows Family Farm
Lilly Den Farms
Perry-winkle Farm
Bushy Tail FarmsLumber Watershed
Fairfax-Lewis Farm
Chandler Worley Family Farms
Floyd Brothers Farm & Livestock
Happy Land Farms
Moore Brothers Natural
Raft Swamp Farms
John L. Council Farm
Country Corners Farm
SF Farms
Shepherd’s Run Farm​​Neuse Watershed
Rainbow Meadow FarmTar-Pamlico Watershed
Mae Farm Meats
Ray Family Farms
Lucky 3 FarmWhite-Oak Watershed
The Barnyard

Yadkin-Pee Dee Watershed
Grace Meadow Farm


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.

Special Raleigh Report: GenX and the Safety of NC’s Public Drinking Water

Special Raleigh Report: GenX and the Safety of NC’s Public Drinking Water

The GenX issue has focused on the Cape Fear area, but emerging contaminants raise serious questions about the safety of drinking water across North Carolina.

Nov. 9 2017 

Revelations that a potentially dangerous chemical called GenX has been found in the Cape Fear River – as well as the treated water supplies for hundreds of thousands of people in the Cape Fear region – for decades have been roiling in the press, in Wilmington politics and at the General Assembly since the news hit earlier this year.

But while the GenX issue has largely focused on the Cape Fear region, recent developments reveal that chemicals like GenX raise a host of questions about the safety of North Carolina’s drinking water more broadly, including in Western North Carolina.

GenX – An “Emerging Contaminant”

GenX is a often referred to as an “emerging contaminant” – a substance or chemical that has been discovered in our air and water but whose environmental and public health risks have been scarcely-researched. Because so little is known about these substances, federal standards for environmental or human exposures to them are rarely enacted. Nor do regulatory agencies regularly monitor for these substances. Instead, states have a lot of leeway under the federal Clean Water Act to regulate them – or not.

Keep in mind that there are between 80 and 130 million known chemicals, and new ones are developed regularly. About 85,000 of these are used in commerce, and perhaps 10,000 of these have been tested for toxicity. Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has listed 126 of these chemicals as “priority pollutants” and flagged 65 as “toxic pollutants.” The EPA has banned just nine pollutants outright (PCBs, dioxins, chlorofluorocarbons, asbestos, hexavalent chromium and four carcinogenic mixed nitrates used in metalworking).

GenX – Not New to NC

GenX is used to manufacture Teflon. Its presence in the water of the Cape Fear has been known since at least 2015, and recent research by Harvard scientists disclosed that EPA-mandated sampling detected GenX in public drinking water supplies for 6 million people nationally between 2012 and 2015. North Carolina ranked third nationwide for the number of GenX detections.

The GenX issue finally got the attention it deserved in June of this year when the Wilmington Star-News reported that people in the Cape Fear region had been drinking GenX-contaminated water for years and that the local water utility and the state did not publicize the findings after they were alerted to the problem by Detlef Knappe, a water chemist at NC State University, in 2016.

The GenX Fallout

Since that revelation, DEQ has ordered the source of GenX, the Chemours Company, to stop all GenX discharges from its Cumberland County plant. DEQ has also ordered the company to stop discharging two other chemicals. A number of families living near the Chemours plant are now being supplied with bottled water after GenX contamination was discovered in their personal wells.

The EPA has begun investigating Chemours and its parent company, DuPont, and the NC Attorney General’s office has started a civil investigation. The local water authority in the Cape Fear region is also suing Chemours and DuPont, and the NC Department of Health and Human Services has reduced its “provisional health goal limit” for GenX from 70,000 parts per trillion (ppt) to 140 ppt in drinking water.

On the political front, Republicans in the General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have traded charges about who is responsible for DEQ budget cuts and GenX going undetected for so long.

The Bigger Picture

While GenX has received a great deal of attention, it also raises much larger issues about North Carolina’s drinking water supplies. For example, Dr. Knappe, the NC State professor, recently told a legislative study committee that another emerging contaminant — 1,4-dioxane — is also present in Cape Fear drinking water at levels that exceed NC standards. Like GenX, 1,4-dioxane is not removed by traditional water treatment methods. Dr. Knappe estimated that more than one million North Carolinians, mostly in the Cape Fear river basin, are now drinking water that exceeds the state standard for 1,4-dioxane toxin.

Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette told the same committee that industries should be required to prove that the chemicals they want to discharge into drinking supplies are safe before they are permitted to do so. Right now, Kemp told the committee, polluters are only required to stop putting emerging contaminants into rivers and streams when there is scientific evidence that they are harmful — a process that can take years and cost a great deal of money to complete.

Another environmental group, the North Carolina Coastal Federation, has urged lawmakers to invest several million dollars in a new generation of water monitoring technology that can detect emerging contaminants and ensure that everyone — scientists, regulatory agencies and the public — know what is in our drinking water.

At MountainTrue, our Riverkeepers for the French Broad, Green and Watauga rivers and our Broad River Waterkeeper Affiliate are working with Riverkeepers from across the state to explore the extent of the presence of emerging contaminants in watersheds statewide.

We will also be joining the alliance of environmentalists, local governments, public health advocates and concerned citizens who are pushing policymakers to invest the time, money and regulatory muscle needed to keep our water clean and healthy.

More specifically, MountainTrue’s priorities for the state’s response to GenX include:

  • A full audit of all industrial dischargers into North Carolina rivers and streams so that we understand what chemicals are being discharged into our water;
  • Expanded state investment in water quality monitoring to detect emerging contaminants in all public drinking water supplies;
  • Full enforcement of the state’s authority under the Clean Water Act to detect emerging contaminants and to ensure they do not pose a risk to human health or the environment;
  • Full public disclosure of the results of water monitoring and discharge audits so that everyone — including the public — understands what is in our water; and
  • A transparent, open decision-making process to determine the best way to eliminate, reduce and prevent emerging contaminants in public drinking water.

More GenX Reading

You can find a GenX FAQ from the Star-News here.

All of the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s GenX information can be found here.

The North Carolina Health News’ reporting on GenX can be found here.

A good summary of Dr. Knappe’s work on 1,4-dioxane can be found 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.

Member Spotlight: Meet Lee McCall!

Member Spotlight: Meet Lee McCall!

Nov. 8 2017

MountainTrue is excited to introduce you to our new Spotlight Series: a place to highlight the members, volunteers, and communities of faith that inspire us with their dedication to the environment we all call home in Western North Carolina. Our first post is by Regina Goldkuhl, our Water Quality Administrator through AmeriCorps Project Conserve. 

Hellgrammites, some of the tiny aquatic insects Lee and Regina found during stream monitoring. 

Lee using the kick net in Clear Creek. 

Lee sorting through the leaf pack. 

Lee McCall has been a champion for clean water in Henderson County for more than twelve years, when he first moved to Western North Carolina. In the short time that I’ve known Lee in my role as MountainTrue’s Water Quality Administrator I’ve been continually impressed with his work ethic and loyalty to our program.

Just yesterday, I had a volunteer cancel the day before we were supposed to monitor Clear Creek. Bio-monitoring for our Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) program typically requires at least three people to complete all the sampling protocols, and with one person down it meant it was just Lee and me. I decided to meet him at our scheduled spot and break the news – I really didn’t think we’d be able to go out that day. However Lee suggested that we at least visit one of the sites and see where it went from there. We ended up completing both sites by ourselves that day, a full seven hours of work! With three or more people it would have taken half that time, but I didn’t hear a single complaint from Lee the entire day. Instead he’d comment on how nice the weather was, even when it began to drizzle periodically.

On top of getting muddy with us on a regular basis, Lee is part of our Headwaters Giving Circle – an invaluable group of members who donate to us every month, providing reliable support to fund the future of our programs. Even though our fall bio-monitoring season has come to a close, I’m sure I’ll run into Lee again soon – he tends to show up for other MountainTrue volunteer opportunities too!

Regina Goldkuhl: What drew you to MountainTrue, and what has kept you coming back all these years?

Lee McCall: One of the main things that drew me to the area for retirement was the beauty of the mountains and the many streams, rivers and lakes here. As a retiree, I felt this was a good time in my life to give something back to the community. What could be more appropriate than helping to preserve that which drew me here? Soon after I moved here, an ad in the paper called for volunteers to help with [ECO’s] stream monitoring, which was only one day, twice a year, at the time. What better way to get started? Once I began, the people and programs of ECO (later to become Mountain True) were fun, interesting, and worthwhile, so I became involved in many aspects of the water quality program. Volunteering brings me into contact with such a wide range of people who share similar values and definitely contributes to my continuing involvement.

RG: In what ways have you seen your efforts have an impact on our environment and community?

LC: Participating in MountainTrue’s educational programs is particularly rewarding, as the students show a genuine interest in understanding what we’re doing. Plus, it feels good to see their energy and enthusiasm – just maybe some of that will be directed towards [creating a healthier environment] in the future. The more exposure they see what others are doing to help our environment, the more likely they will recognize that they too can play a part.
It’s also reassuring to see that the section of Mud Creek our team has cleaned during the annual Big Sweep cleanup, has had less trash to be hauled out over the last few years. Hopefully this trend will continue.

RG: Do you have any one memory or experience from volunteering with us that you’d like to share?

I think the cumulative experiences have had more of an impact on me than any specific one. MountainTrue covers such a diverse range of programs just within the water quality area that there is always something interesting and rewarding and fun to do.

MountainTrue has been fortunate to participate in the AmeriCorps Project Conserve program. The talent and energy that these young people bring to our programs is contagious, and spills over into the volunteers that work with them.
Though many members of our bio-monitoring team (who identify and quantify bugs in the streams) have volunteered together for years, it’s still amazing how excited we get when uncommon critters end up in our kick nets or leaf packs. Helping on worthwhile projects with great people is a reward in itself.

To sign up for volunteer opportunities with MountainTrue, go to www.mountaintrue.org/eventscalendar.

To join our Headwaters Giving Circle, visit www.mountaintrue.org/join.


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.

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Riverkeepers Respond to Duke’s Coal Ash Dishonesty

Nov. 8 2017

Over the weekend, Duke Energy Spokesperson Danielle Peoples responded to MountainTrue’s paddle protest on the Broad River with multiple untrue statements about the dangers of coal ash and the extent of Duke’s pollution at their power plant in Cliffside, NC [“Battle over coal ash continues in Cliffside” (11/5/17)]. In a Letter-to-the-Editor for the Shelby Star, Western North Carolina’s Riverkeepers stand up for the truth on coal ash and our rivers and set the record straight.

 

It’s time for Duke Energy to come clean on coal ash pollution. In a recent article that ran in the Shelby Star  [“Battle over coal ash continues in Cliffside” (11/5/17)], Duke Energy spokesperson Danielle Peoples made numerous misleading statements about the dangers of coal ash and the ongoing pollution that is happening at Cliffside.

First, Peoples tells the Star that Duke has “finished excavating the basin earlier this year.” Problem solved, right? Well, not exactly. There are three ash basins at Cliffside, and Duke Energy has only excavated its smallest one. The truth is that 90% of coal ash stored in ponds at that site remain in its two unlined pits, which continue to pollute area groundwater and the Broad River.

Inexplicably, People’s claim about Cliffside is compounded by a glaring error in the Star’s reporting —   that Duke Energy has closed all of its coal ash ponds around the state. This isn’t true at the Allen and Marshall plants near Charlotte, the Belews Creek plant near Winston-Salem, and it isn’t true at Cliffside where Duke Energy continues to operate a very active pond that they sluice wet ash into and discharge wastewater out of every day. We know this because this is how they operate under their current wastewater permit, and that doesn’t count all the additional illegal discharges that we’ve found.

What does the future have in store for Cliffside? Duke says that capping these unlined pits will solve the problem, but if the company has its way the remaining coal ash will be left sitting in up to 50 feet* of groundwater, continuing to pollute our groundwater and the river for centuries.

The most dangerous of Peoples’ assertions is that coal ash is nonhazardous. Here she hides behind a regulatory and legal technicality. While it is true that the Environmental Protection Agency declined to regulate coal ash as “hazardous waste” under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the EPA was equally clear that “there is significant potential for [coal ash ponds] to leach hazardous constituents into groundwater, impair drinking water supplies and cause adverse impacts on human health and the environment.” The EPA has set health limits on the toxic heavy metals and other constituents found in the coal ash at Cliffside because they are dangerous to people.

Here in North Carolina, when a small business owner or company makes a mess, we expect them to clean it up. Duke Energy is the largest utility company in the country – they can handle it.

David Caldwell, Broad River Alliance

Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper

Gray Jernigan, Green Riverkeeper

Andy Hill, Watauga Riverkeeper

*The original version of this post said “60 feet” instead of “50 feet” of groundwater. The error has been corrected. 

Want to get involved? Support our petition to make Duke Energy clean up their coal ash pollution of the Broad River and sign up for clean water action opportunities 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.