AmeriCorps Outings and Education Coordinator (Asheville)

AmeriCorps Outings and Education Coordinator (Asheville)

AmeriCorps Outings and Education Coordinator (Asheville)

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

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

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

Outings & Education Coordinator Position Summary:
This position works closely with topic area experts on the MountainTrue staff to engage MountainTrue members and local residents in environmental protection in Western North Carolina through outings such as hikes and paddle trips, outreach programs and initiatives, and environmental education within the community. The coordinator will also serve as the project lead for the OLLI Ecology of the Southern Appalachians course and our online education series called MountainTrue University. The coordinator will support MountainTrue’s racial equity work by creating programming specifically designed to engage communities of color in environmental conservation. The activities undertaken by this position will inform, inspire, and connect a broad public to the natural world and its delicate and often threatened ecosystems, thereby increasing general support for conservation efforts in our region.

Qualifications – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Excellent planning and organizational skills. Attention to detail is key in this position.
  • Experience working with diverse people (youth, retirees, rural, urban, people of color).
  • Strong time management skills.
  • Ability to manage multiple projects at once and maintain attention to detail.
  • Ability to work as part of a team as well as independently.
  • Be a quick leaner, unafraid to ask questions, and also have the patience to tackle complex problems
  • Familiarity with web-based programs and applications and the use of social media.
  • Training and/or teaching experience a plus.
  • Excellent oral (including public speaking) and written communication skills.
  • Spanish language proficiency a plus.
  • Eligible applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States, and consent to a criminal history check.

Preferred Service Hours / Weekly Schedule:
9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday, with occasional evening and weekend hours as needed

Position Responsibilities and Duties:

Conservation Education: 100%

  • Organize numerous hikes, paddles, and other activities featuring MountainTrue programs and priorities such as old growth forests, ecology, water quality, energy efficiency, land use planning and development, and others. Coordinate with topic experts. Ensure education opportunities are provided throughout our service region of counties across Western North Carolina.
  • Serve as a project lead or be a key team member supporting major events including the OLLI Ecology of the Southern Appalachians class, Float Fest, and the French Broad River Paddle Trip.
  • Work closely with the Community Engagement Director to create and organize special events for members.
  • Represent MountainTrue in the Everybody’s Environment Coalition and bring valuable learnings back to the organization to improve our diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Integrate activities with the Forest Keeper and Water Quality Administrators (MountainTrue AmeriCorps Members).
  • Manage event pages content for website, posts to social media, flyers & posters for events, volunteer sign up forms for web, email communications to promote events and programs, and communications with general public looking to learn about MountainTrue and engage with our programs
  • Participate in the community as a MountainTrue team member contributing to the success of the organization.

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

Eligibility Requirements
Applicants must:

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

 

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

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

 

HOW TO APPLY

To Apply
Please go to conservingcarolina.org/americorps/projectconserve/ for more information and to apply. Deadline to Apply is May 31, 2021. Contact Amy Stout with any questions at (828) 697-5777, ext 217 or projectconserve@conservingcarolina.org. Conserving Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with known physical / mental disabilities.

AmeriCorps Forest Keeper Coordinator (Asheville)

AmeriCorps Forest Keeper Coordinator (Asheville)

AmeriCorps Forest Keeper Coordinator (Asheville)

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

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

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

Forest Keeper Coordinator Position Summary:
This position includes a combination of volunteer recruitment and coordination, on-the-ground stewardship on public lands, education, and data management. A primary task of the FKC is to build and improve upon a Forest Keeper program to recruit, cultivate, educate and retain dedicated volunteers who monitor and improve our public lands. The position will include opportunities to learn from and network with conservation professionals from a variety of non-profit organizations and government agencies. This service position will require frequent travel and work outdoors to provide an opportunity for the Forest Keeper Coordinator to become more familiar with the Blue Ridge Mountains. This service position will be supervised by the Ecologist & Public Lands Director who will provide training, support, and guidance. The Forest Keeper Coordinator will also benefit from knowledge, expertise, and training by other staff through the teamwork approach practiced among the diverse projects with MountainTrue.

Qualifications – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Must have: Education or experience in natural resources management, biology, or environmental science/studies/education/policy. Strong organization, communication, and project management skills. Ability to work independently. Gregarious personality. Ability to work outdoors and maintain a positive attitude in challenging conditions and inclement weather. Respect for diverse groups and interests.
  • Would prefer: Community organizing/engagement or event planning skills and experience. Education/knowledge in native and non-native plant identification.
  • Eligible applicants must be at least 18 years of age, be a citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident alien of the United States, and consent to a criminal history check.

Preferred Service Hours / Weekly Schedule:
9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. A number of weekend hours of work will, however, be required, so an appropriate number of weekdays/hours will be excused to offset these as determined by the member’s supervisor. (Approximately 2-3 weekend days per month; more in spring and fall, less in winter.) 

Position Responsibilities and Duties:

Conservation Education: 25%

  • This aspect will primarily consist of educating volunteers and members of the public through organized education events and workdays. This could also include participation in/presentation at conferences; high school and college PowerPoint presentations and workshops; designing and producing posters and brochures educating about, or promoting events relating to, nature education, forest ecology and management, climate change, non-native invasive plants and insects, and other education projects of interest and need.

At-Risk Ecosystems and Trails: 25%

  • Field inventory/data collection of non-native invasive plant species;
  • Same for the non-native invasive insect, emerald ash borer, which also includes ash tree (several species) ID and measurement training;
  • Manual and chemical treatment of non-native invasive plants, both along trails (National Forest, AT, state, municipal) and in conservation easements;
  • Participating in tree live-staking in riparian zones.
  • Working to address reported issues in the public lands of WNC with ecological sensitivity.

Volunteer Infrastructure Program: 50%

  •  The Forest Keeper Coordinator will be responsible for assisting in the recruitment of volunteers for the Forest Keeper program as well as other opportunities to improve the public lands of WNC. This will include reaching out to diverse groups, and offering regular training/recruitment events.
  • In addition, they are responsible for the management of those volunteers, which includes teaching them restoration techniques, informing them of the risks associated, and supervising them during the workdays.
  • The Forest Keeper Coordinator will also help coordinate our annual BioBlitz, which will entail the recruitment and management of up to 50 volunteers.
  • As part of this work, the FKC will maintain social media presence (Instagram, Facebook) and help promote events and programs.
  • The Forest Keeper Coordinator is expected to keep detailed records of volunteer personnel (including names and contact, liability waivers, hours served, and frequency of participation) in keeping with Project Conserve standards.

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

Eligibility Requirements
Applicants must:

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

 

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

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

 

HOW TO APPLY

To Apply
Please go to conservingcarolina.org/americorps/projectconserve/ for more information and to apply. Deadline to Apply is May 31, 2021. Contact Amy Stout with any questions at (828) 697-5777, ext 217 or projectconserve@conservingcarolina.org. Conserving Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with known physical / mental disabilities.

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator (Boone)

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator (Boone)

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

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

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

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

Qualifications – Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

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

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

Position Responsibilities and Duties:

Conservation Education: 20%

  • Collaborate with community partners to conduct public education events in the Watauga River watershed such as Watershed Days;
  • Collaborate with other organizations to plan and execute the Float Fest event;
  • Collaborate with other organizations to organize and execute Kids in the Creek and other water quality youth education events;
  • Focus educational efforts around climate change adaptation and mitigation, litter and plastic pollution, and other emerging areas of interest;

At-Risk Ecosystems and Trails: 30%

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

Volunteer Infrastructure Program: 50%

  • Lead MountainTrue’s High Country Regional Office Water Quality Team;
  • Manage the SMIE biomonitoring program and VWIN chemical monitoring program through effective volunteer recruitment, training, and management;
  • Coordinate microplastic monitoring programs
  • Assist with Harmful Algal Bloom Study
  • Maintain Lab equipment
  • Coordinate Swim Guide bacteria monitoring program
  • Expand the reach of the Adopt-A-Stream program;
  • Coordinate Watauga County Big Sweep 2020;
  • Host a volunteer appreciation event;
  • Help guide the organization’s efforts around equity, diversity, and inclusion by targeting volunteer recruitment and service activities to reach underserved people and communities;
  • Pursue other opportunities to engage volunteers as they arise

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

Eligibility Requirements
Applicants must:

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

 

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

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

 

HOW TO APPLY

To Apply
Please go to conservingcarolina.org/americorps/projectconserve/ for more information and to apply. Deadline to Apply is May 31, 2021. Contact Amy Stout with any questions at (828) 697-5777, ext 217 or projectconserve@conservingcarolina.org. Conserving Carolina is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations will be provided to individuals with known physical / mental disabilities.

Ask President Biden To Keep His Promise To Our Environment

Ask President Biden To Keep His Promise To Our Environment

Ask President Biden To Keep His Promise To Our Environment

We are living with rapidly accelerating climate change, a biodiversity crisis that threatens more than one million wildlife species with extinction, and air and water pollution that burdens millions of Americans. We need bold action and we need it now.

To help address these overlapping crises, President Biden has committed to protecting at least 30 percent of our lands, waters, and ocean by 2030.

This “30×30” plan will preserve natural places that filter out pollution so that we can breathe clean air and drink clean water, help prevent mass wildlife extinctions, fight climate change and protect us from its worst effects, and ensure that all Americans — no matter their economic status, race, or ethnicity — have access to nature and open space.

Send a letter asking President Biden to follow through on his promise and act quickly to protect 30 percent of U.S. lands, waters, and ocean by 2030.


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.

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Help fight a planned mega-development that would be built on 82 acres of intact forest directly next to Richmond Hill Park, increase traffic, and pollute the French Broad River.

The proposed development would be built on extremely steep slopes, and the developer has not agreed to the higher level of stormwater management at this site that we know is necessary to protect the health of the river.

MountainTrue opposes this project in its current form because of the potential impacts to places we all share like the French Broad River, Richmond Hill Park and roads unsuited for the additional increased traffic. We are partnering with Richmond Hill & River Rescue — a local community group — to oppose this project and we need your help.

TAKE ACTION!


May 18, 6:30 pm:
Attend the Woodfin Town Commission Public Meeting to voice your opposition. (Details to be posted here.)

June 7, 6:30 pm: Attend the Woodfin Planning and Zoning Meeting to stand up for public health and safety. (Check here the day of the meeting for the Zoom link and any changes to the agenda.)

Send in your comments to ask the Woodfin Town Commission to ensure the following:

  1. For this project to move forward in a responsible manner, approval and permits for the construction of a new bridge over the French Broad River must be in hand before the developer breaks ground to reduce neighborhood traffic safety concerns and potential environmental impacts.
  2. The Developer agrees to additional stormwater measures that will protect water quality in the French Broad River.
  3. The Developer agrees to a forested buffer between the new development and the Richmond Hill Neighborhood.
  4. Woodfin’s development ordinances should be updated to ensure that future projects reflect the type of growth that residents want, not just what is easiest and most profitable for developers.

Written comments must be submitted within 24 hours of the May 18th meeting to be considered.

Commission members are: Adrienne Isenhower, planning director; Michael Saunders, planning staff; Mayor Jerry Vehaun; Woodfin Commissioners Debbie Glazentanner, Jackie J. Bryson, Donald Honeycutt, Donald Hensley, Ronnie Lunsford, and Jim Angel. Letters for public comment should be sent to clerk@woodfin-nc.gov. Public comment can also be made by calling 828-253-4887.

You can also donate to the Richmond Hill & River Rescue GoFundMe page. All financial contributions will help with the legal costs and hiring the necessary experts to testify against the potential major environmental impacts this mega project would bring. To donate directly through MountainTrue, list your donation as restricted for Richmond Hill & River Rescue. 


POINTS OF IMPACT
and ADDITIONAL TALKING POINTS

The proposal: Strategic Real Investment Partners LLC, a Tampa, Florida-based developer has submitted plans to construct 1,545 luxury residential condo units in Woodfin adjacent to Richmond Hill Park and on the banks of the French Broad River.

  • A massive luxury housing project like this will only make our region even less affordable. Studies show that building new luxury housing pushes up rents in surrounding neighborhoods and increases burdens on lower-income households.
  • Traffic will increase dramatically, affecting safety and planned multimodal improvements. The developer’s own traffic engineers estimate this development will generate well over 10,000 trips a day. These cars would use narrow, winding residential streets and Riverside Drive unless a proposed new bridge over the French Broad River is built.
  • The project could endanger rare salamander species. Neighboring Richmond Hill Park is home to two species designated by North Carolina as of “Special Concern” — the Mole Salamander and the Southern Zigzag Salamander. This property contains similar habitat so these salamanders could be present there as well.  We are unaware of any studies or wildlife inventories done in the project area.
  • The development will pollute the French Broad River. Removing trees and ground cover, grading steep slopes, and paving roads and parking lots will lead to polluted stormwater runoff into the French Broad River.  
  • Increased storm water runoff would endanger river recreation and public health. The project would be just upstream from a proposed $18 million whitewater wave and recreation park — a significant public investment.

The backbone of MountainTrue is member participation. Your membership connects you with vital information, strengthens the MountainTrue voice to policy makers, and financially supports our work.

April 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

April 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

April 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

We’ve Done the DNA Testing, And Now We Know the Sources of E. Coli Pollution

DNA testing conducted by MountainTrue on the French Broad River, one of our region’s most polluted waterways, has confirmed that cattle are the biggest source of E. coli pollution, followed by faulty or inadequate sewer, septic or water treatment infrastructure. Our Swim Guide E. coli testing has documented increasing levels of E. coli, but until now we couldn’t say for certain what the sources of the pollution were. With new, more sophisticated testing, MountainTrue looked at the DNA found in 55 water samples to measure for genetic fingerprints of E. coli from people, cows, dogs, poultry, sheep and swine. Read the press release for a summary of our testing results.

We’re using this data to advocate for science-based policies at the North Carolina General Assembly that would provide financial support to help farmers fence cattle out of streams and property owners fix their septic systems. At the federal level, we’re advocating for major investments in water infrastructure. Learn more and take action here.

Now Hiring: Director of the Creation Care Alliance of WNC

Reverend Scott Hardin-Nieri, Director of MountainTrue’s Creation Care Alliance (CCA) program and our beloved colleague, is moving on to a position with the Bethany Fellowship. Scott will always be a part of the MountainTrue family, and that family will soon be getting a little bit bigger as we add another member to the team.

MountainTrue is accepting applications for our next CCA Director until May 5, 2021. You can read the position description and apply here, and you can read Scott’s letter to CCA members announcing his departure here.

The Creation Care Alliance is a network of people of faith and congregations who have united around a moral and spiritual call to preserve the integrity, beauty and health of God’s creation. We work to bring practical and hopeful solutions to our congregations and broader secular communities by engaging hearts and minds through inspiration, education, service and advocacy. For more information: creationcarealliance.org.

American Zinc Products Facility Continues to Pollute the Broad River

WLOS News Investigative Reporter Kimberly King did an excellent job covering ongoing violations by the American Zinc Products facility in Mooresboro in a seven-minute segment that aired on April 7. After seven years in operation and at least 41 violations issued by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now opened an investigation into the site. Broad Riverkeeper David Caldwell has been working on this issue for the past six years, has met with staff at the facility multiple times, and has asked both DEQ and EPA to take action to keep the zinc plant’s pollution under control. Watch the full news story on WLOS.

MountainTrue Helps Lead Bulk Solar Purchasing Effort to Reach 100% Renewable Energy


Members of the Solarize Steering Committee at a press event this April. 

MountainTrue is on the team that launched Solarize Asheville-Buncombe last week – a local bulk-purchasing initiative to increase the amount of solar energy and battery storage in our community.

“The model is similar to buying in bulk at the grocery store for a lower price,” says MountainTrue’s Organizer & Communications Manager Eliza Stokes, who serves on the campaign’s Steering Committee. “The more community members who participate, the cheaper the solar will be.” By reducing barriers to solar, like cost and confusion about where to start, the campaign is making solar more accessible and aims to help Buncombe County get on track to reach our community goal of 100% renewable energy by 2042.

While similar Solarize campaigns have happened all over the country, the Asheville-Buncombe campaign is unique in our focus on equitable job training and additional affordability efforts. Solarize is partnering with Green Opportunities (GO), an Asheville-based workforce development program, to help train residents from marginalized communities to support installation of the campaign’s solar panels.

“Green sector jobs are on the rise, and many positions in this sector are accessible to those with traditional obstacles to employment,” says Ben Williamson, Executive Director of Green Opportunities. “We also know climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities and communities of color and that increasing access to clean, renewable energy is a step in the right direction in that fight.”

The campaign has also attained funding to help more families afford solar, and is crowdfunding through our “Neighbor-to-Neighbor” program to provide financial support that will make solar accessible to even more people in our community.

To sign up for a free solar building assessment and/or to donate to Solarize’s Neighbor-to-Neighbor financing program, visit solarizeabc.com.

WNC for the Planet Bingo Card

Celebrate Earth Month with MountainTrue and the rest of the WNC for the Planet coalition by playing Earth Month BINGO! The virtual BINGO card features opportunities to engage with our partners through workshops, activities, service and more. Lend a hand cleaning up our rivers, restoring native plant and animal habitats, or clearing non-native invasive plants. Or, learn how to compost, explore nearby hiking trails, or create art and poetry. You can access all of the wonderful Earth Month events in one place at www.wncfortheplanet.org – and you may win a prize from organizations and local businesses! Read more.

High Country Regional News

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

Thank You for Helping Us Plant 12,000 Live Stakes for a Healthier River

With the help of more than 35 volunteers, MountainTrue planted 12,000 live stakes in the Watauga River Watershed this fall, winter and spring. These live stakes will develop root systems and become trees in the coming years, supporting streambank health, reducing sedimentation, improving flood control and creating shaded habitat for aquatic species. We only planted native species like silky dogwood, silky willow, ninebark and elderberry, which provide added benefits for native pollinators. The live staking season is now finished for the year, but stay tuned for more workdays starting in November 2021!

Microplastics Are Widespread Throughout WNC Watersheds

Our water quality staff and volunteers have been hard at work for the last couple of months collecting water samples and testing for the presence of plastics. Unfortunately, we have found microplastics in every single sample of every watershed that we’ve tested across Western North Carolina, including seven sites on the Watauga River. A total of 164 unique individual plastics have been identified so far, ranging from microfibers from synthetic clothing to microfilms from plastic bags and wrapping. Read more about this program here.

Swim Guide Launches Next Month!

Our 2021 Swim Guide program launches next month. We will be collecting weekly E. coli samples from 16 sites across the Elk, New and Watauga River Watersheds from May to September. Results will be published on the Swim Guide app and website, so be sure to check them before you swim!

Interested in taking samples? Email hcwqa@mountaintrue.org for more program information.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Volunteer Spotlight: Erica Shanks

Erica Shanks’s enthusiasm for protecting the Green River is evident in all the work she does with MountainTrue. She has volunteered for Green River cleanups since 2014 and has been working closely with the Green Riverkeeper program since it began in 2016. Most recently, she began volunteering with our new microplastics sampling program.

What drives her to be such a superstar for our rivers? “I love doing it. The feeling that you get after you get a lot of trash off the river is kinda indescribable,” she explains. “You’re really excited, but at the same time you’re really sad, you’re really mad, you’re really frustrated because you know you can keep coming back out here and probably get the same amount of trash every single day.”

That hasn’t stopped Erica. She’s committed to following through on this work for both the environment and the broader community impacts. She’s not just picking up river trash, she’s also modeling good stewardship of our public resources. “You inspire the community that sees you out and about, and then that encourages them to want to clean up too. Even though the environmental impact is obvious, the community impact is different. People see somebody doing something and then they want to do it too.”

MountainTrue appreciates the hard work and dedication of volunteers like Erica, and we’re so glad to have their support. “The big thing I love about MountainTrue is the emphasis on protecting places we share,” Erica says. “The Green River is a very special place for so many reasons. And to be able to keep this clean and inspire the community to keep their special places clean is a pretty big deal.”

Thank you Erica for all your hard work and dedication to protecting the places we share!

Friends of East Flat Rock Oppose Asphalt Plant Again

On March 20, approximately 200 concerned neighbors packed the house of a Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting to voice their concerns about a proposed rezoning that would allow the construction of an asphalt plant near homes and businesses in East Flat Rock.

Next up: the proposal goes before the Henderson County Planning Board on April 15 at 5:30 PM in Thomas Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College (180 W Campus Dr, Flat Rock, NC 28731). Be there to make your voice heard and make it clear that rezoning for an industrial plant in this location is unacceptable. Learn more and sign the petition at www.friendsofeastflatrock.org and submit your comments to the Planning Board here.

Henderson County Compost and Agriculture Fair on May 6th

Come to the first annual Compost and Agriculture Fair at Jackson Park in Hendersonville on Thursday, May 6th from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM during International Compost Awareness Week!  Celebrate soil health and agriculture, and connect and learn from organizations and fellow compost lovers. Henderson County recently began selling backyard compost bins so you can compost at home. Pre-purchase yours today and pick it up at the fair.

Western Regional News

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

Carson-Newman University Group Spent Spring Break Volunteering for MountainTrue

Ten students and faculty from Carson-Newman University spent their spring break this March removing non-native invasive plants alongside streams and rivers on public lands in the Hiwassee River Watershed. Although they worked for a shortened week, this group’s participation ensured that the 13-year tradition of hosting alternative breaks wasn’t broken by the COVID-19 pandemic! We look forward to next year when we can hopefully bring back volunteer-prepared lunches for these hard-working young adults.

Fun Activities Planned for Andrews Spring Fling – April 24


Western Region Program Coordinator, Tony Ward will lead free nature walks along the Valley River and Town Branch during the Andrews Spring Fling on April 24th.

Are you ready to get outside to celebrate Earth Day? Mark your calendars to be in Andrews on Saturday, April 24, 11-6 for the town’s annual Street Fair & Nature Expo to learn about gardening, butterflies, water conservation, local history and much more. MountainTrue’s booth will include a native tree scavenger hunt; signups for nature walks during the festival led by Western Region Program Coordinator, Tony Ward, at the Cherokee County Heritage Park (easy walking distance from the street fair); and a quiz to test your knowledge of hellbenders, which are the largest aquatic salamander found in our streams and rivers! Hope to see you in downtown Andrews to celebrate Earth Day with us!

Western Region Spring Hike Outing in Panthertown Valley

Photo caption: Schoolhouse Falls is one of two larger waterfalls located along the route of the spring hike outing.

Join Western Regional Director Callie Moore and MountainTrue’s Outings Coordinator, Kasydi Dunaway, for a loop hike on the Panthertown Valley, Little Green and Mac’s Gap Trails. This moderate 5.6-mile hike has a lot of variety including unique golden sandbed streams, long-range views, waterfalls and rock outcrops! There will be a total of 895 feet of elevation gain as we climb Little Green Mountain to our lunch spot at Inspiration Point, and then climb out of the valley at end of the hike. The trails are located near Glenville, North Carolina in the Panthertown Valley area of Nantahala National Forest. The outing is limited to 15 people and you must register in advance.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

As the COVID situation evolves, we continue to increase capacity for our guided adventures. We highly encourage you to add your name to the waitlist for any hike you are interested in. Spots may open up at the last minute and we would love to get you into those spaces.

Hikes that have a chance to open up:

  • Western Region Huckleberry Knob Hike – 4/17
  • Wildflower Hike (Rattlesnake Lodge) – 5/12
  • High Country Wildflower Hike – 5/7
  • Lower Green Inflatable Kayak Trip – 5/7

If you are interested, email our Outings & Education Coordinator Kasydi Dunaway at outings@mountaintrue.org to join our waitlist.

April 7-30 – Earth Day Cleanup Challenge
What better way to celebrate Earth Day than participating in a cleanup challenge? Sign up and tag @mtntrue in your cleanup photos on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #MTEarthDayChallenge. Pictures with the most trash collected will receive a prize from your MountainTrue region. Participate and show your love for the environment and your community this Earth Day! Take part.

April 17, 9 am-4 pm – Socially Distant Lake Adger Spring Cleaning (Rescheduled)
Join MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper for the Lake Adger Spring Cleaning! Head out on the lake on Saturday, April 17, collect as much trash as you can, and post images of your haul to social media with the hashtags #lakeadgerspringcleaning or #lakeadgercleanup. Sign up.

April 17, 11 am-2 pm – Island Park Invasive Plant Volunteer Work Session in Bryson City
Join forces with MountainTrue and the Tuckasegee River Alliance to help eradicate non-native invasive plants, restore a beautiful riparian buffer and bring the island back to its full splendor. Sign up.

April 18, 23 & 25, 10 am-4 pm – Treat Hemlock Trees along the Green River
Join the Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT) to protect hemlock trees along the Green River from the deadly woolly adelgid. PHHAT works in areas only accessible by boat in the Green River Game Lands. Paddling experience of crew members from Class II up to Class V whitewater may be required. Please email our Green Riverkeeper at gray@mountaintrue.org for more information and to get involved.

April 20, 11 am-12 pm – Using DNA to Track E. Coli Pollution in the French Broad River
Join French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson and Dr. Joseph Craine from Jonah Ventures for a webinar on analyzing water samples for DNA. We will discuss how MountainTrue is using this technology to determine the sources of bacteria pollution. Sign up.

April 21, 10 am-1:00 pm – Native Habitat Restoration along Mud Creek near Fletcher
Join us at this French Broad Paddle Trail campsite as we work to eradicate non-native invasive plants and restore native species. Plant ID and removal techniques will be taught on-site. Plan to get dirty. Sign up.

April 22, 9 am-12 pm – Creation Care Hike at Bear Wallow near Hendersonville
Join Creation Care Alliance Director Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri and MountainTrue’s Public Lands Director Bob Gale for some inspiration and ecological insights on this easy-to-moderate hike up to some spectacular views. Sign up.

April 25, 6 pm-7:15 pm – Creation Care Alliance Virtual Earth Day Vigil
Join Creation Care Alliance Director Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri and speakers from throughout our region for readings, prayers and songs to inspire you in the care of God’s creation. Sign up.

May 13, 12:30 pm-1:30 pm – Getting Around Car-Free: Strive Not To Drive Webinar
Join MountainTrue, AARP and Strive Not To Drive for a webinar about car-free, alternative modes of getting around town followed by a Q&A session with expert guests. Sign up.

May 20, 11 am-12 pm – Climate Change in Our Mountains and Strategies for Mitigation and Adaptation
Join our MountainTrue University Climate Series with Public Lands Director Bob Gale and Field Biologist Josh Kelly as they discuss the likely effects of climate change in the Southern Blue Ridge Mountains. Sign up.

May 22, 10 am-2 pm – Hike & Learn to Identify Trees in Union County, GA
Join Tony Ward, MountainTrue’s Western Region Program Coordinator, for a 1.2-mile loop trail hike through an upland forest area of Meeks Park and learn how to identify many of the trees in our region. Sign up.

May 26, 12 pm-1 pm – Building Our City with Heather Worthington (Virtual)
In many American cities, it is illegal to build anything other than a detached single-family home on 75 percent of residential land. Join Minneapolis’s Director of Long Range Planning, Heather Worthington, as she discusses why single-family zoning has come under scrutiny as cities grapple with a dire shortage of affordable housing. Sign up.

June 5-19 – 2021 BioBlitz: Tri-County Smackdown
This year’s MountainTrue BioBlitz pits Jackson, Watauga and Transylvania counties against each other to determine the 2021 champion of biodiversity. The competition kicks off on June 5 on iNaturalist. We can’t wait to see what kinds of observations our participants will share. Tell your friends, neighbors, family, and fellow naturalists, and get prepared for a BioBlitz like no other! Sign up.


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.