Stand Up for these Principles at a Comprehensive Planning Meeting

Stand Up for these Principles at a Comprehensive Planning Meeting

Stand Up for these Principles at a Comprehensive Planning Meeting

MountainTrue is encouraging our members and supporters to take an active role in several comprehensive planning efforts throughout our region — specifically in Henderson County, Buncombe County and Bryson City. These comprehensive plans are an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our local governments grow and develop to meet the challenges of climate change, a growing population and increased pressures on our built environment.

The comprehensive planning process in Henderson County is already underway. The county’s planning consultant has fielded a community survey to gauge local priorities. If you are a resident of Henderson County, we urge you to check out our guide and complete the survey.

Henderson County has also scheduled a series of public input meetings throughout the county from September through December. For a list of upcoming meeting dates, times and locations, visit this link

Please attend one or more of these public input meetings. All meetings are open to anyone who lives in or does business in Henderson County. For your convenience, here are MountainTrue’s list of planning principles — the issues that all comprehensive plans should address:

Public Participation
Overall, we believe that communities should play a central role in planning for their future growth and development. We advocate for a design process that invites diverse voices, including those that have traditionally been excluded or ignored. The process should be equitable and inclusive of all communities and people regardless of class or clout.

Smart Growth
MountainTrue supports economic vitality and growth in Western North Carolina without compromising our mountain habitat. We champion our cities and small towns, which function as our communities’ economic, cultural, and residential centers. We encourage public and private development in these places where we’ve already made investments in infrastructure. At the same time, we discourage any expansion of infrastructure that induces sprawl into natural areas or the rural landscape. We advocate for a wide variety of housing choices and multiple modes of transportation.

Land Preservation
We support planning for development in a way that protects valued natural resources. We encourage communities to create a local source of dedicated funds to preserve open space and agricultural and forested lands. Planning can identify environmental features like wetlands, agricultural lands, forests and steep slopes and suggest strategies for preserving those resources from destruction or degradation by development.

Public Lands
MountainTrue advocates for the protection of our national and state forests in addition to our national, state, county and city parks and trails. We believe the management of public lands should maintain and restore their ecological integrity and promote recreational opportunities.

Clean Water
We work to preserve and restore waterways as healthy ecosystems as well as recreational and aesthetic resources. MountainTrue supports the development and enforcement of standards and regulations to protect surface and groundwater from pollution, litter, and development.

Clean Energy
MountainTrue supports the development of clean, sustainable, locally-produced energy. We are dedicated to helping communities transition to renewable energy. We work with local community members, policymakers and utilities to bring our region sustainable solutions for our energy demands and to promote energy efficiency.

Take Action to Fight E. Coli Pollution in Our Rivers

Take Action to Fight E. Coli Pollution in Our Rivers

Take Action to Fight E. Coli Pollution in Our Rivers

Let’s give our farmers, families and local governments the help they need to keep our rivers free and clear of bacteria pollution. Call on lawmakers to address the issues polluting our rivers.

The rivers and streams of Western North Carolina are widely loved and enjoyed by the people who live here. Our rivers are also a vital part of North Carolina’s economy, and they need to be preserved.

Unfortunately, stormwater runoff from heavier and more frequent rainstorms due to climate change combined with failing infrastructure are leading to higher levels of bacteria pollution in area waterways. Recent DNA testing done by MountainTrue of the French Broad River, one of our region’s most polluted waterways, indicates that cattle and faulty and inadequate sewer, septic or water treatment infrastructure are our major sources of E. coli bacteria pollution.

To fix the problems causing higher levels of bacteria in our rivers:

We are calling on members of the North Carolina General Assembly to increase funding for the Agricultural Cost Share Program, the Agricultural Water Resource Assistance Program, the Community Conservation Assistance Program, and the Waste Detection and Elimination Program.

Currently, state funding to help WNC farmers afford improvements such as new cattle fencing and riparian buffers through the Agricultural Cost Share Program (ASCP) and the Agricultural Water Resource Assistance Program (AgWRAP) is far outstripped by demand. Last year, these programs received $19.2 million and $7.3 million respectively in requests for just $7.5 million in combined annual funding. Increasing the state’s investment in these programs to $19 million for ACSP and $7 million for AgWRAP could drastically reduce bacterial pollution in WNC waters.

Similarly, funding for the Community Conservation Assistance Program — which assists government buildings, schools, parks, and homeowners manage and control stormwater runoff — is insufficient to meet demand. We proposed increasing funding for this program from $100,000 to $3 million to meet current demand from applicants and reduce stormwater pollution in rivers and streams already impacted by bacteria pollution.

The Waste Detection and Elimination (WaDE) program existed for eight years, between 2002-2009. In that time its staff visited 13,379 WNC homes and identified 2,016 sources of water pollution — mostly from leaking and failing septic systems. We propose restoring $200,000 to the budget to restart this incredibly effective program.

We are calling on North Carolina’s US Senators and members of the US House of Representatives to support the “American Jobs Plan”, which would provide funding for much-needed infrastructure improvements and climate initiatives including $66 billion for water infrastructure, not including an additional $45 billion to ensure that no child has to drink from lead pipes.

DEQ: It’s Time to Modernize NC’s Pollution Spill Notification System

DEQ: It’s Time to Modernize NC’s Pollution Spill Notification System

Join North Carolina’s riverkeepers in calling on state regulators to modernize NC's public notification system.

Millions of people across North Carolina take to our beaches, rivers, and lakes to cool off, swim, paddle, and fish, but most are unaware that nearly 16 million gallons of untreated sewage have spilled into our waterways during a two and a half month period (May 17 to July 30, 2020) according to data collected by North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

North Carolina desperately needs to update its public spill notification system. Current state law requires operators of wastewater collection and treatment systems to notify DEQ of spills of over 1,000 gallons into surface waters and to send a press release to local media within 24 hours. For spills of over 15,000 gallons, operators are required to place a notice in the newspapers of counties impacted by the spill within 10 days (NCGS 143-215.1C). Spills of other pollutants have similar reporting requirements to DEQ.

North Carolina should not be depending on ads in print newspapers to get the word out about dangerous spills. Newspapers are not mandated to run the press releases, and many local newspapers are only published in print on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, which is not frequent enough to warn river users of water quality problems in a timely manner.

The public has the right to know about major pollution spills that impact our waterways as soon as possible, and through the technology the public uses today.

Join NC’s riverkeepers in calling for a better, more modern system that would:


  • Publish spill data to an online database and interactive map and on agency social media channels.
  • Send email and text alerts to interested parties. 
  • Allow the public to sign up to receive these alerts for the watersheds they are interested in.
  • Make improvements to our state laws by increasing fines for polluters dumping sewage in our waterways.