MT Raleigh Report: Who’s Up, Who’s Down in Raleigh (and WNC) After Last Week’s Election?

MT Raleigh Report: Who’s Up, Who’s Down in Raleigh (and WNC) After Last Week’s Election?

While the dust is still settling from last week’s election – with several state legislative races still too close to call – it’s clear that Republicans have lost their veto-proof majorities in either one or both chambers of the legislature.

Going into this year’s elections, the GOP held the House 75-45. The 2019 House will likely seat 65 Republicans and 55 Democrats when a new legislature arrives in January, although that split could change depending on how the recounts of three House races turn out. In the Senate, where Republicans held a 35-15 majority, the 2019 Senate breakdown right now is 29-21. Democrats picked up just enough seats to end the GOP supermajority there, assuming one recount continues to go their way.

Some thoughts about what this all means for state policy and WNC’s legislative delegation:

Gov. Roy Cooper had a good night. The reduction of GOP power in the General Assembly means Republicans in the legislature will have to negotiate with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper – or pick off enough Democrats to help override his veto. After eight years in the political wilderness, though, Democrats will likely stick with Cooper and force Republican leaders to negotiate with the governor – and check many legislators’ questionable environmental policies.

The 2019 session is likely to be very long. With power more evenly divided between Cooper and the GOP legislature, the two sides may cooperate on some issues. Disaster recovery might be one area, for example, where they could feel some political pressure to work together. But the two parties hold significantly different views on many basic issues, and both sides know that the 2020 election – as well as control of the 2021 redistricting process – is just around the corner.  So the safest bet is on a political stalemate. If that happens, the annual budget bill – perhaps the only legislation that must be approved in 2019 – is likely to become a mishmash of appropriations and policies, with lawmakers loading it up with proposals they know Cooper would otherwise veto as stand-alone legislation. In this scenario, the two sides would hunker down for long, drawn-out negotiations that may delay budget approval and the end of the session well into the fall.

Funding for environmental protection, healthcare and education will be top issues in 2019. With GenX water contamination, flooding and water pollution from Hurricane Florence still in the news, Cooper will likely ask the legislature for substantial increases in funding for the state’s environmental protection agencies – something GOP leaders have been reluctant to do. Other remaining areas of disagreement include funding to move hog lagoons out of the floodplain and other conservation investments to make North Carolina more resilient. Cooper’s Hurricane Florence recovery plan calls for tens of millions of dollars in these investments. So far Republican leaders have not indicated their willingness to appropriate this funding.

The GOP supermajorities aren’t dead yet. The 2018 version of the General Assembly – complete with the GOP veto-proof majorities – is scheduled to be back in session on Nov. 27. Lawmakers are expected to take up another round of disaster recovery appropriations, though the details are still TBD. Implementing legislation for the four constitutional amendments approved by voters is also likely. Beyond that, the agenda for the November session is murky, though many in Raleigh expect legislative leaders to wield their soon-to-go authority widely before the 2019 legislature takes over.

Powerful people in 2019. GOP legislators will pick their leaders for the 2019 session some time after the November special session. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, both Republicans, seem likely to return to lead each chamber. Assuming this is the case, Henderson County GOP Rep. Chuck McGrady – already a key leader on House budget matters – could become more influential. That’s because his colleague, senior GOP budget leader Rep. Nelson Dollar (Wake) was defeated on Tuesday. Dollar’s loss could mean McGrady’s gain in authority; on the other hand, Dollar and McGrady were allies in many budget battles, both within the House GOP caucus and with the Senate. The break-up of their appropriations dream team could make it harder for McGrady to find already scarce GOP support for many of the environmental policies and programs he supports.

Among other WNC legislators, the already powerful GOP Senator Ralph Hise will likely play an even larger role in the GOP Senate, particularly on health and human services issues. The same goes for Rep. Josh Dobson, who will take up some of the slack on health issues left by Dollar’s departure. And with the Senate GOP caucus is now smaller in numbers, second-term GOP Senators Chuck Edwards of Henderson and Watauga County’s Deanna Ballard are well positioned to increase their influence.

Whatever happens in the coming months in Raleigh, MountainTrue will be there to keep you informed and to speak up for Western North Carolina. Thank you to all of our members and supporters who make our advocacy efforts in the state capitol possible.


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.

MountainTrue Raleigh Report: Florence Disaster Recovery Funding, Climate Resilience for WNC

MountainTrue Raleigh Report: Florence Disaster Recovery Funding, Climate Resilience for WNC

Hurricane Florence nears the east coast of the United States on Sept. 12. (Photo credit: NOAA Satellites)

On October 8, the North Carolina General Assembly took less than a day to earmark close to $400 million in Hurricane Florence disaster recovery funding. Lawmakers also shifted another $450 million into a disaster recovery fund with a promise to use it in the near future for additional Florence recovery efforts.

The legislature’s action came swiftly in a bipartisan vote that legislative leaders hailed as historically fast and generous.

That it was done quickly is beyond debate.

Whether the legislation is sufficient to address disaster victims’ immediate needs, or the long-term challenges storms like Hurricanes Florence and Michael pose to the state, is another matter.

For starters, let’s remember that initial estimates put the total damage caused by Florence at more than Hurricanes Floyd and Matthew combined. And that roughly one million households – or 26 percent of all North Carolina households – have been affected by the storm.

We should also keep in mind that scientists are now confident that the unprecedented havoc Florence wreaked is the new normal, as the reality of climate change asserts itself in increasingly dangerous weather patterns across our state.

Given the size of Florence’s impact and the risk of future storms, it’s no wonder that in his recovery plan, Gov. Roy Cooper identified more than $3.7 billion in unmet needs after private and federal disaster recovery is accounted for. Cooper recommended investing $1.5 billion to address this need – including the initial down payment of $750 million he asked lawmakers to appropriate.

On paper, lawmakers’ $800 million disaster appropriation appears to go above and beyond Cooper’s request. In fact, their investment is much more modest – $400 million, most of which is matching funds necessary to draw down federal assistance. The remaining $400 million is set aside in the new state disaster fund that is not available for recovery until and unless the General Assembly votes to spend it. Nor is the legislature required to do so – it can simply leave the funding where it is or vote to use it for non-disaster needs.

Republican leaders insist that they will open up the state’s coffers as the state’s disaster needs become clearer. They reasonably point out that the state is still assessing Florence’s full impact and that they will be back in Raleigh for yet another special session right after the November elections.

Here’s hoping they keep their word. With so many hurting from Florence and with so much to do to prevent similar catastrophes, we would have preferred a bolder approach. The need to provide additional housing assistance for Florence victims, for example, is immediate and will not diminish in coming weeks.

Slightly less pressing but just as obvious is the need to make North Carolina stronger and safer before the next storm. It is long since time to move hog farms out of eastern North Carolina flood zones. The state should also move quickly to help people who live in flood zones – many of whom are on limited incomes – to find safe homes away from rivers and streams that flooded during Matthew and flooded again during Florence.

Gov. Cooper’s recovery plan included immediate investment in these efforts and others that would make North Carolina safer, cleaner and more sustainable. Sadly, the disaster aid bill approved earlier this month does little to make the state more prepared for the next storm.

 

And What About Western NC?

 

While Western North Carolina was largely spared by this season’s storms, they should encourage those of us who live here to consider the lessons they pose for our region. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that many of us were threatened by wildfires, flooding and mudslides that destroyed too many homes and took too many lives.

For starters, this year’s storms urge us to consider how we can make our communities safer and more resilient. The General Assembly’s investment in landslide mapping for WNC counties is a good example of the kind of preparation we need. The fact that approval of this funding came two years after Hurricane Matthew – and in the same month that landslides destroyed at least 30 homes and left five people dead here – only demonstrates how much we need to speed up our work on preparedness and safety.

Particular attention is needed in those areas of Western North Carolina where preserved open space meets human development. It’s along these borders, for example, that wildfires pose the greatest danger to people and property. Preparing for bigger storms also requires that we review our stormwater systems and reassess our assumptions about flood risk to make sure we are prepared for worse storm events to occur much more frequently.

And really, once and for all, let’s end the ridiculous debates about whether climate change is “real.” This tedious argument does nothing to help us as a state and is an insult to the many thousands of North Carolinians who lost their homes and loved ones this fall.

The sad reality is that Florence and Michael are just the latest in a series of wake up calls that too many of our leaders have slept through for too long. We owe it to those hurt by these storms to wake up and prepare, now, for the next ones.


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: The Legislature Overrides More Vetoes, and Some Good News

MT Raleigh Report: The Legislature Overrides More Vetoes, and Some Good News

On July 27, Governor Roy Cooper vetoed legislation that alters state ballot language for the constitutional amendments voters will consider this fall. The legislation had been approved by the General Assembly a few days before. Cooper also vetoed legislation that prevents a Supreme Court candidate who recently switched his party affiliation from having any party label next to his name on the ballot.

Last week, the legislature returned to override the governor’s vetoes – in a single Saturday session.

And then, this week, Cooper announced his plans to go to court to stop two of the constitutional amendments voters are scheduled to consider in November. The proposed amendments would take away the governor’s authority to appoint judges, regulators, board members and other state officials, and transfer that power to the legislature.

In addition, Clean Air Carolina, the Southern Environmental Law Center and the NAACP filed a separate lawsuit to stop amendments on the ballot that they say threaten voting rights and restructure government by usurping powers intended for the executive branch. A spokesperson for Republican Senate leader Phil Berger called the lawsuits “absurd”, saying they are intended to take away a voter’s right to choose how they want to be governed.

Here at MountainTrue, we’re still wading through these arguments and weighing the impact of the amendments on WNC’s environment and communities. We welcome your thoughts about the amendments, and whether (and how) environmentalists should support or oppose them.

And Now the Good News

Remember the state budget? You know the one – $24 billion for the new fiscal year, which started July 1?

While education funding and a living wage for state employees – and GenX water pollution – got most of the attention during the budget debate, there were two items of particular importance to WNC that you may not have heard so much about. And both are items those of us at MountainTrue are particularly proud of.

First, the General Assembly earmarked $3 million for landslide hazard mapping in Western North Carolina. Knowing where landslides may happen can be a matter of life and death. For proof, look no further than the landslides in Polk County that killed three people earlier this year.

At MountainTrue, we made landslide hazard mapping part of our legislative agenda more than three years ago. Our hope was that after Hurricane Matthew hit eastern North Carolina in 2015 and fires raged in Western North Carolina in 2016, lawmakers in Raleigh would turn their attention to disaster preparedness and might be willing to restore funding for landslide hazard mapping that was cut in 2011.

Well, it took a bit longer than we thought it would, but the legislature finally came around this spring when lawmakers included landslide hazard mapping in their final budget. Big thanks go out to Rep. Chuck McGrady, who got behind this funding three years ago and helped us keep pushing it. (For the record, McGrady also opposed cutting the funding in 2011.)

The result: local governments, developers and homeowners will soon have crucial information that will lead to more sustainable development and, hopefully, save lives.

The other budget item is smaller but may be crucial to protecting WNC’s trout fishing industry, which is worth about $383 million annually to the region’s economy.

Whirling disease is caused by the microscopic parasite Myxobolus cerebralis; it damages cartilage and skeletal tissue in trout, causing them to swim in a corkscrew pattern. If you love to fish for trout in WNC – or make your living helping others who do – whirling disease is bad news. It’s been found in the Watauga, and there is anecdotal evidence that it’s in other WNC rivers and streams as well.

The state is doing an exhaustive study of the disease, but the final results won’t be in for several years. So this year, MountainTrue’s Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill – who also happens to be a former professional fly fishing guide – got to talking about trout and whirling disease with Sen. Deanna Ballard. Ballard represents much of the Watauga River basin and knows how much trout fishing means to her district’s economy and way of life.

With Ballard’s help, an appropriation of $20,000 got tucked into North Carolina’s budget for MountainTrue to do a study to see if the DNA of Myxobolus cerebralis can be found in WNC’s waters. If the DNA shows up, it won’t be definitive proof of whirling disease, but we think it would be a strong enough sign to convince lawmakers like Ballard to act now to combat the disease before it gets out of hand. Even better, the study can be done quickly – in time for the 2019 legislature to consider the results and act on them.

These examples are a great reminder of why MountainTrue has a permanent presence in Raleigh. Finding success in the capital requires a long-term commitment to building support for good ideas – like landslide hazard mapping – and enough familiarity with the people and politics in the legislature to take advantage of opportunities like the whirling disease study when they arise.

And of course, having legislators like McGrady and Ballard who are willing to help doesn’t hurt either!


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: Final Update on the Farm Bill

MT Raleigh Report: Final Update on the Farm Bill

Those of you who receive MountainTrue’s legislative updates know that we’ve been mobilizing people across the region in recent weeks against the Farm Act, SB711. This legislation includes drastic new limitations on citizens’ rights to protect their homes and their health against large agricultural industrial operations like hog and chicken plants.

The GOP-controlled legislature approved SB711 along largely partisan lines a few weeks ago. On June 25, Gov. Cooper vetoed the bill, citing its impact on the environment and its limitations on property rights.

You can read more about the problems with this legislation here and here.

MountainTrue Co-Director Julie Mayfield states:

“With SB711, the North Carolina General Assembly has put the interests of large corporations above the interests of communities and homeowners. This has never been how things have been done in Western North Carolina.”

Despite overwhelming grassroots opposition to this bill, the legislature voted to override Cooper’s veto of SB711. Below is a list of WNC legislators and how they voted on the override. (Remember: those who voted FOR the override voted to support the bill. Those who voted AGAINST the override voted to oppose it).

We encourage you to take a moment to see how your lawmaker voted on this critical issue.

And a big thanks to all of you who helped us mobilize support against this bill – we hope you will continue to join us in speaking up for WNC’s environment and the health of the people who live here.

WNC Members of the NC Senate who supported SB711 by voting to override Gov. Cooper’s veto:

Deanna Ballard (R-Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Watauga)

Jim Davis (R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain)

Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson, Buncombe, Transylvania)

Ralph Hise (R-Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Yancey)

WNC Members of the NC Senate who opposed SB711 by voting to uphold Gov. Cooper’s veto:

Terry Van Duyn (D-Buncombe)

WNC Members of the NC House of Representatives who supported SB711 by voting to override Gov. Cooper’s veto:

Mike Clampitt (R-Haywood, Jackson, Swain)

Kevin Corbin (R-Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Macon)

Josh Dobson (R-Avery, McDowell, Mitchell)

Cody Henson (R-Henderson, Polk, Transylvania)

Tim Moore (R-Cleveland)

Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe, Watauga)

Michele Presnell (R-Haywood, Madison, Yancey)

WNC Members of the NC House of Representatives who opposed SB711 by voting to uphold Gov. Cooper’s veto:

John Ager (D-Buncombe)

Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe)

Brian Turner (D-Buncombe)

Hugh Blackwell (R-Burke)

Chuck McGrady (R-Henderson)


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.

MountainTrue Raleigh Report: The End (of the Session) is Near, CCA Goes to Raleigh & More

MountainTrue Raleigh Report: The End (of the Session) is Near, CCA Goes to Raleigh & More

CCA members with just some of the legislators they’ve met with this week in Raleigh. From left to right: Holly Cunningham (CCA), Alan Rosenthal (CCA), Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri (CCA), Rep. Susan C. Fisher, Sen. Terry Van Duyn, Rep. Brian Turner, Rev. Bill Garrard, Rep. John Ager, and Rev. Kevin Bates (CCA). 

2018 Farm Act, Veto Overrides and Constitutional Amendments

The 2018 North Carolina General Assembly has started its slow march toward adjournment. Here’s a quick update about what to expect before legislators go home.

Last week, lawmakers approved a flurry of bills in anticipation of an expected adjournment later this month. Lawmakers plan to restrict their work during the remainder of June to local bills and constitutional amendments – which do not require the Governor’s signature – as well as veto overrides. Keep in mind that veto overrides require a three-fifths vote in both chambers, or 72 votes in the House and 30 votes in the Senate. A three-fifths vote is also required to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

On the veto override front, the two biggest environmental bills of the session – the 2018 Farm Act and the legislature’s annual regulatory “reform” bill –  are now on the Governor’s desk. A veto of the Farm Act is widely expected. There are 74 Republicans in the House and 35 in the Senate, so a strict vote along party lines would override the vetoes. However, collecting the needed votes for an override is a very different game in each chamber. Expect the Senate majority to easily and quickly override any veto of these bills. In the House, however, the vote is likely to be much closer, with many environmental groups (including MountainTrue) and other opponents of the bill working hard to find the votes to sustain a veto.

Lawmakers are also expected to consider putting several constitutional amendments on the fall ballot – largely, it appears, in hopes of motivating certain groups of voters to get to the polls. Some of the proposals include a constitutional amendment protecting the “right to hunt and fish,” a voter identification requirement and a limit on personal income taxes.

Creation Care Alliance of WNC Goes to Raleigh

The Creation Care Alliance of WNC traveled to Raleigh this week to meet with legislators. Among the issues they discussed were clean and renewable energy, landslide hazard mapping and trout and hemlock tree protection.

Thanks for supporting MountainTrue’s advocacy efforts. Keep an eye out for our legislative alerts and opportunities to help us speak out for the environment in Raleigh.


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: The Good, The Bad and The Big Picture on NC’s New Budget

MT Raleigh Report: The Good, The Bad and The Big Picture on NC’s New Budget

Last week, in a blur of committee meetings and debates on the Senate and House floor, the legislature completed its most important task of the 2018 General Assembly session – approval of the $24 billion state budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The budget is now in the hands of Gov. Roy Cooper who is widely expected to veto it. With veto-proof majorities, the GOP House and Senate will undoubtedly override Cooper’s veto. So while the budget process still has several weeks to go before completion, what we saw last week in the budget is basically what we are going to get for FY2019.

As is often the case in the sausage-making of the General Assembly, one has to consider what the General Assembly included (or didn’t) in the budget as well as how it went about its work. It’s also important to step back from the details of the budget and consider it in a broader context.

In this report, we’ll try to do a little of all three.

(And for you policy wonks who want to look at the budget itself, it’s divided into two documents – a budget bill and a money report, which lists all various expenditures made in the budget.)

What’s In the Budget for The Environment?

From an environmental perspective – and in comparison to previous spending plans approved since the current GOP majorities took control of the legislature in 2011 – this latest spending plan had some positive elements.

For example, the new budget includes a substantial, $3.6 million investment in landslide mapping for WNC counties. This funding has been a MountainTrue legislative priority for several years out of concern for public safety. We also support the mapping because it allows local communities and individuals to make informed decisions about development. It’s a sad irony that several people were killed in landslides in the region the same week the legislature approved this funding, leading to press reports exploring whether the fatalities might have been avoided if the legislature had not cut the program in 2011.

Many thanks to Rep. Chuck McGrady, who led the effort to fund the mapping this year, and who opposed the 2011 cuts as a freshman legislator.

MountainTrue is also pleased that the legislature chose to maintain or expand funding for the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, as well as trust funds that support state parks and farmland preservation. While these trust funds have not returned to their pre-recession funding levels, we are grateful that funding is increasing, even if slowly.

From the Every Little Bit Helps File, we also note that the legislature provided $225,000 to protect the state’s hemlock trees from invasive insects and $20,000 for a study of whirling disease, which threatens the state’s trout industry.  The whirling disease funding was a legislative priority for MountainTrue, and we thank Sen. Deanna Ballard of AlleghanyAsheAveryCaldwell and Watauga counties for getting and keeping that funding in the budget.

We are more ambivalent, however, about the General Assembly’s response to the clean water issues raised by GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River. While the legislature made very modest investments in the NC Department of Environmental Quality, the funding remains far short of the resources the Department needs to respond to GenX, as well as other water quality issues across the state.

The changes lawmakers made to the package of GenX appropriations and policies in the budget at the request of industrial polluters are also problematic. Even the General Assembly’s effort to get ahead of the emerging contaminant issue is a mixed bag. While lawmakers provided $5 million for statewide testing of drinking water supplies, they made those investments outside DEQ where they are best located and limited the testing to a narrow collection of compounds instead of testing for all “emerging contaminants.”

(To read MountainTrue’s GenX analysis, click here.)

A Behind Closed Doors Budget Process

That brings us to the how of the budget – the process lawmakers used to draft and vote on how to spend taxpayers’ money.

Unfortunately, for the average citizen and many legislators, there was no budget “process” this year. Lawmakers began meeting behind closed doors weeks before the session started on May 16. Last week, they released the spending plan and presented it at committee meetings, where amendments were not accepted. Then, legislative leaders put the bill on the Senate and House floors for one, yes-or-no, take-it-or-leave-it vote in each chamber – again without allowing any amendments or changes to the bill.

For the first time since at least the 1970s, the majorities in both the House and Senate approved the state’s spending plan without allowing any public comment on the bill or any amendment by any legislator, regardless of party. It was a breathtaking and disturbing display of raw political power that should leave all North Carolinians – whatever their political affiliation – concerned about their government’s commitment to basic democratic values.

The Bigger Picture

When considering the budget approved last week, it is important to think about the choices that lawmakers have made that impact how much money they have to spend on the environment and other critical needs.  More specifically, since 2013, the General Assembly has approved roughly $3 billion in tax cuts, which have created a sense of scarcity in the General Assembly, where budget writers regularly report the difficulty they face in addressing the state’s pressing needs. The result is a budget process – and a budget – that unnecessarily pits education spending and salary increases for state employees, for example, against investments in clean water and clean air.

In our view, these are false choices, imposed on all of us by legislative leaders who are unwilling to have a broader debate about the state’s needs and how to meet them – or, this year, any debate at all.


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.