MT Raleigh: Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

MT Raleigh: Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

MT Raleigh: Senate Budget Includes Enviro Investments. Will the House Follow?

Approval of a new state budget is near the top of the North Carolina General Assembly’s To-Do list every year.

And ensuring that the budget includes investments for Western North Carolina’s natural resources is a big part of MountainTrue’s legislative agenda.

We got an early read on how our budget priorities may fare this year recently when the North Carolina Senate approved its version of the state’s new spending plan a few weeks ago. The news – so far anyway – is pretty good.

The Senate budget includes some of our top priorities, including recurring funding to maintain the state’s landslide hazard mapping efforts in our region; funding to identify and address failing septic systems that are polluting rivers and streams; and a constellation of conservation investments to restore regional waters and make them more accessible to the public.

Take Action for the Environment

We need your help to win support for much-needed funding to clean up WNC rivers and protect our environment.

Some of the more recognizable investments include $12 million for the new Pisgah View State Park in Buncombe County and $7.5 million for removal of the Big Hungry Dam on the Green River in Henderson County — one of the most expensive and long-sought dam removal projects in the state.

Our team began meeting with legislators about our budget priorities months ago, so it’s great to see some of that work pay off with funding for a number of those projects included. But we would be remiss if we did not thank the legislators who helped with this success — particularly Sen. Chuck Edwards of Henderson County.

Edwards is one of the chairs of a key Senate appropriations committee with responsibility for natural resources investments. He’s been a strong ally of MountainTrue’s efforts to address water quality problems — including E. Coli — in our region and to find the funding for a variety of other investments.

More good news: an important open space conservation fund also gets a big boost under the Senate budget. Last year the state’s Land and Water Conservation Fund provided $21 million in grants. Under the Senate plan, the Fund would receive $73.2 million in this fiscal year and $53.2 million next year. Trust funds for farmland preservation and our state parks system also got big boosts.

While the Senate budget is a good first step, we hope that House budget writers will build on this success and fund two big-ticket items that the Senate did not. WNC urgently needs funding to help farmers pay for fencing and other “best management practices” that will keep cows and stormwater runoff out of rivers and our waters free of E. Coli. Statewide demand for these programs far outstrips the availability of these funds. Likewise, funding to help property owners and local governments upgrade septic and wastewater systems to reduce water pollution in our region are also in great demand.

These two programs need millions of dollars of new investment.

For more information about MountainTrue’s budget priorities, give this document a look (pdf).

With the budget process in Raleigh in full swing, you can help us advocate for these investments. Use the form below to thank Sen. Edwards for his help and encourage House members to build on the Senate’s investments.

Finally — on a different note — many of you have likely heard about the big energy bill now moving at the legislature. At MountainTrue, we have serious concerns about the bill in its current form and are working with many other groups to fashion a much better solution. Look for updates about this issue in an upcoming newsletter.

Thanks for being part of MountainTrue’s advocacy efforts – together, we are helping bring millions of dollars to WNC to improve water quality and expand public access to our rivers and streams.


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.

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

July 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

Jackson County Wins the 2021 Bioblitz

After two weeks of hard-nosed competition, Jackson County won the 2021 Bioblitz, beating Watauga and Transylvania Counties. Overall, 46 people contributed 2,947 observations, and 317 people helped with the identification of 1,228 species. While Jackson County had 1,403 observations to Watauga County’s 1,068, the competition for the most species was much tighter – Jackson county prevailed 738 to 681. Transylvania County came in a distant third with 472 observations and 279 species. Check out our blog post to read more about our Bioblitz results and see photos of the winning observations.

Sarah Ogletree Joins MountainTrue as the Director of the Creation Care Alliance

The Creation Care Alliance is pleased to announce that Sarah Ogletree will be our next director. Sarah comes to us from our close partner, NC Interfaith Power and Light, where she has been for the last three years. Her dedication to seeking justice for both people and planet shines through in all aspects of her life, and she has consistently been recognized with awards for her leadership, dedication and excellence. Join us in welcoming Sarah! Read more.

We’re Hiring! MountainTrue Seeks a Great Environmental Communicator

MountainTrue seeks a bright, organized, and outgoing individual with strong communications skills, experience in online advocacy, and development writing. The Communications Associate will report to the Director of Communications and work closely with our Community Engagement Director, program directors and regional directors to (1) promote our programs through member outreach and correspondence, public relations, social media, and marketing; (2) support our advocacy goals through online organizing/advocacy; (3) provide writing and communications support for our fundraising activities. The deadline to apply is Sunday, August 15, 2021. Read more and apply.

August 29: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River

MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River.

Sunday, August 29, 2021
Doors: 5:00 p.m., Starts: 7:00 p.m.
All Ages are Welcome
Tickets: $35 in advance; $39 general admission

French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson says, “Michael Franti is the perfect artist to bring us back down to the banks of the French Broad to celebrate our beautiful river. Come to enjoy a night of inspiring music and support our ongoing work to make our river cleaner and healthier.” Read more and buy tickets.

High Country Regional News

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

Sparking a Love for Clean Water and Healthy Ecosystems at High Country Forest Wild

Our Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, visited High Country Forest Wild, an outdoor experiential learning school. She gave an instream lesson on aquatic insects and water quality to about 45 students. It was an excellent way to get young minds thinking about freshwater ecosystems and water quality.

MountainTrue Reports Water Quality Violation for Development Along Watauga Lake

While conducting routine sampling of Watauga Lake for our Harmful Algal Bloom Study, we spotted a new development lacking erosion control. We promptly contacted the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation, which issued a notice of violation. We hope to see improvements on the construction site and continue monitoring this development to help keep our waterways free of sediment pollution.

Bottomley Farms Clearcut Causes Severe Erosion, Ecosystem Collapse

Our Watauga Riverkeeper teamed up with Southwings to get a bird’s eye view of a massive clear-cut timber operation in Alleghany County being conducted by Bottomley Farms — a Sparta-based agribusiness company. The developers are removing all the trees, shrubs and vegetation, and grubbed it down to hundreds of acres of bare earth. The result has been severe erosion, sediment pollution of area waterways, and a total collapse of the ecosystem in Ramey Creek — once a thriving spawning ground for native brook trout. North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission staff could only save 13 individual trout out of the hundreds previously documented in that stream. Commission staff relocated the survivors to an adjacent watershed. Tragically, a species that thrived in that watershed since the glaciers retreated tens of thousands of years ago was erased by one egregiously bad timber project. Our report resulted in the NC Department of Environmental Quality issuing a notice of violation. We will continue to monitor this project and push for a lasting riparian buffer and a complete restoration of the stream.

Trash Trout Update: There’s Too Much Plastic in Our Waterways

Our Trash Trout on Winklers Creek continues to collect so much litter. We have removed and cataloged thousands of pieces of trash in the few weeks that the trash-collection device has been in place. The majority of the garbage found has been single-use plastics and styrofoam, underscoring the need to address the prevalence of plastics and microplastics in our environment.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Volunteer for Rhythm & Brews! Hear Good Music and Get Cool Stuff!

Join MountainTrue’s Recycling Team on Main St. during the Rhythm & Brews Concert Series in downtown Hendersonville this summer and fall to reduce waste and encourage recycling. Volunteers will be rewarded with an R&B volunteer t-shirt, a voucher for a free beverage, a koozie and a water bottle! Help educate attendees and monitor the waste stations.

Upcoming Concerts:
July 15: Abby Bryant & The Echoes with opener Andrew Thelston Band
August 19: Jamie McLean Band with opener Hustle Souls.
September 16: Mike and the Moonpies with opener Kenny George Band.
October 21: The Broadcast with opener TBD.

2 Shifts: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. & 7:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Volunteers needed: 4 per shift, 8 total
To sign up: https://signup.com/go/eRCebTq

Working to be Plastic Free Program Endorsed by Hendersonville City Council

L to R: Beth Stang, chair of Hendersonville’s ESB. Lyndsey Simpson, H’ville City Councilwoman, and Christine Wittmeier, chair of MountainTrue’s Recycling Team, hold a July 1st proclamation endorsing the Working to Be Plastic Free program.

On July 1, Hendersonville City Council approved a proclamation supporting Working to be Plastic Free — a plastic reduction program created by MountainTrue and the Hendersonville Environmental Sustainability Board. Hendersonville Mayor Barbara Volk signed the pledge and has encouraged staff to reduce the city’s use of plastic.

Many of the local merchants and restaurants participated in a plastics-use survey earlier in the year. Now, we’re encouraging them to sign the pledge and begin working to eliminate single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and take-out containers. Most of these plastics are not recyclable and end up in landfills or littering our rivers and streams.

MountainTrue is ready to help businesses find sustainable packaging alternatives, and participants will be recognized in press releases, newsletters, social media, and a webpage promoting the program. To get more information and sign the pledge, visit our webpage or contact MountainTrue’s Interim Southern Regional Director, Katie Breckheimer, at srogray@mountaintrue.org.

Congratulations to Our Broad River Race Winners: Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe

Broad River Race winners Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe accept the trophy from David Caldwell, the Broad Riverkeeper.

Our Third Annual Broad River Race was postponed when a thunderstorm moved across the area last Saturday, July 12. A day later, the race flag dropped, and the paddlers sped down the river. Four and a half miles and an hour later, Jordan Jackson and Marc Stowe were the first to cross the finish line in a tandem canoe to take home our race trophy, Betsy the Turtle. Annie Keith and her son David Caldwell, our Broad Riverkeeper, were hot on their trail. It was great to see so many people enjoying the cool waters of the Broad River, and we look forward to seeing who wins next year.

App State Eco-Tox Team Collects Fish Tissue Samples From the Broad River

The Appalachian State Eco-toxicology Team returned to the Broad River to collect more water, sediment and fish tissue samples for an ongoing study of the bio-accumulation of heavy metals in fish. The team sampled upstream and downstream of two industrial sites with permits to discharge pollutants into the river. MountainTrue will use the results to determine if we need fish consumption advisories for the affected sections of the waterway. Special thanks to our High Country Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, and Appalachian State’s Dr. Shea Tuberty for leading this fantastic project.

ICYMI: Broad River Spring Sweep Collects Over 100 lbs of Litter

We had a small crew for this year’s Annual Broad River Spring Sweep on May 29, but we made a big impact by collecting over 100 lbs of litter (including a football) from the Broad River. It was also inspiring to see so many folks cooling off in the water and enjoying the river at the Greenway canoe access.

Western Regional News

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

Crossover Timber Project Update: Your Advocacy Is Making a Difference

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly documents the age of a 200-year-old tree in the Nantahala National Forest.

We asked, and you responded! MountainTrue’s members submitted 334 public comments (36% of which were customized) and 24 letters to the editors of relevant local newspapers during the comment period for the US Forest Service’s Crossover Project. As currently proposed, the project would log more than 300 acres of old-growth forest, rare species habitat, and remote backcountry in the Snowbird Mountains of Nantahala National Forest.

The Nantahala Pisgah Forest Partnership — a broad coalition of forest users representing recreation, conservation and timber interests of which MountainTrue is a member— has joined the fight and requested that the Forest Service remove these acres from the project. For its part, the Forest Service has indicated a willingness to collaborate with the partnership to develop a better alternative during the Environmental Assessment phase of the project. Thank you for speaking up for our forests!

We’re Hiring a Nonnative Invasive Plant Control Intern

MountainTrue seeks a dedicated individual to fill a part-time, 12-week paid internship for its western region in Fall 2021. The position includes a combination of on-the-ground stewardship of public and conserved lands, volunteer recruitment and coordination, and public outreach. It will require travel to various locations within a 60-mile radius of Murphy (including north Georgia) and substantial work outdoors. The application deadline is August 4, and the start date is August 30. Visit our website to learn more.

Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants Webinar Coming in August

Due to popular demand, MountainTrue Western Region Program Coordinator Tony Ward and Public Lands Director Bob Gale will host a webinar on how to eradicate non-native invasive plants (NNIP) on Tuesday, August 24 at noon. Tony and Bob will discuss the best tools to control common NNIP species and the best seasons for treatment. The webinar will include an in-depth discussion about herbicides, the active ingredients of commonly used products, and how to apply them correctly and with minimal impact on the environment. Register for the free webinar today!

Become A Georgia Green Landscape Steward

The Georgia Green Landscape Stewards certification program provides educational resources that teach landowners about increasing plant and animal biodiversity, conserving soil and water, providing wildlife and pollinator habitat, and improving public and environmental health. Participants can measure their activities with the program’s metric scorecard and earn certification status for their landscape. Along with the satisfaction of contributing to natural resource protection, Georgia Green Landscape certification includes an option for Georgians to purchase an attractive yard sign to designate their property as a sustainably managed landscape.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

July 18, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Headwaters Fun Float on the First Broad River
Join MountainTrue as we head up to the South Mountains for a fun paddle on the cool shady waters of the First Broad River! Read more.

August 24, 12-1 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Managing Nonnative Invasive Plants
Join us for an educational program about managing common nonnative invasive plants, including techniques for control, best seasons for treatment, and more. Read more.

August 29, 7 p.m.: Michael Franti and Spearhead Concert to Cleanup and Protect the French Broad River
MountainTrue, French Broad Riverkeeper and 98.1 River are proud to present Michael Franti and Spearhead for a benefit concert to support MountainTrue’s work to clean up and protect the French Broad River. Read more.


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.

Sarah Ogletree Hired as the Next Director of the Creation Care Alliance

Sarah Ogletree Hired as the Next Director of the Creation Care Alliance

Sarah Ogletree Hired as the Next Director of the Creation Care Alliance

The Creation Care Alliance is pleased to announce that Sarah Ogletree will be our next director.

Sarah comes to us from our close partner, NC Interfaith Power and Light, where she has been working for the last three years, serving most recently as a program coordinator gaining experience in the kind of work that she will be doing to expand the work and reach of the Creation Care Alliance – building relationships with faith communities, organizing webinars and events, conducting fundraising, managing communications, recruiting volunteers, and involving youth. 

Sarah holds a Masters of Divinity from Wake Forest University School of Divinity, where she focused her studies on faith and ecology. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. Since then, Sarah has worked at the intersection of faith, ecology, and Creation Care at United Methodist Churches in Cullowhee and Winston-Salem, Parkway United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, First Baptist Church in Sylva, and here with the Creation Care Alliance back in 2017. Her dedication to seeking justice for both people and planet shines through in all aspects of her life, and she has consistently been recognized with awards for her leadership, dedication and excellence. Notably, she was the recipient of the national 2018 Emerging Earth Care Leader Award from Presbyterians for Earth Care and was named a 2019 Re:Generate Fellow.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys planting flowers, singing, and playing the fiddle with her husband, William. She is a fan of snuggling up on the couch to read southern Appalachian novels and also loves exploring with her small but mighty dog, Bo. Sarah added “I am so thrilled to be joining the Creation Care Alliance team. The opportunity to do the work of faith-based ecological justice in the region that has made me who I am is an immense blessing. I look forward to getting to know each of the wonderful community members who, through the prayers of their hearts and hands, have made CCA what it is today.”

MountainTrue Co-Director Bob Wagner shared that “Sarah brings wisdom of growing up in Western North Carolina, training and experience that includes a divinity degree and work with partner agencies, a passion for creation care, and charisma that draws people into caring about our environment. This work is her life’s calling and we are thrilled to welcome her to our staff.”


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 Engagement Competition: Are you the MountainTruEST?

MountainTrue Engagement Competition: Are you the MountainTruEST?

MountainTrue Engagement Competition: Are you the MountainTruEST?

We are excited to announce a friendly summertime competition to encourage you, our supporters, to consider new ways of connecting with our work. Are you a regular Swim Guide volunteer? Get into the advocacy game by sending a message to the forest service! Or do you follow our Raleigh Report and all things policy? Take a trip outside with us and discover a new species of wildlife on either a river snorkel or a guided hike! Whatever your go-to activity is with MountainTrue, we invite you to explore a new aspect of our work and try out something different this summer.

We’ll keep track of your event attendance, your action alert responses, and any other way you support our efforts. Then, each month in our e-newsletters from July through September we will recognize the most engaged supporters in each region. To get started today, visit our No Man’s Land Action Center, where you can take action to push for policy-based solutions to environmental degradation. You can also check out our Events Calendar to see what’s coming up in either your area – or a new part of our mountains that you haven’t explored before!

If you have questions about specific opportunities for your region, contact your local staff for details:

High Country: Andy Hill, andy@mountaintrue.org 

Southern Region: Gray Jernigan, gray@mountaintrue.org 

Western Region: Callie Moore, callie@mountaintrue.org

Central Region: Susan Bean, susan@mountaintrue.org


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.

What we’re up to: Fixing bad timber sales, bioblitzing, and competing to be the MountainTruest

What we’re up to: Fixing bad timber sales, bioblitzing, and competing to be the MountainTruest

June E-Vistas Newsletter

Who is the MountainTruest? Summer 2021 Engagement Competition

We’re kicking off a friendly competition this summer to recognize environmental champions across our region. You can participate by doing things like volunteering, responding to calls to action, and attending events — all ways you can help MountainTrue fulfill our mission! Click here to learn more.

Celebrate Black Emancipation this Juneteenth

This Saturday is Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery. To help celebrate the end of American slavery, MountainTrue staff offer up some of our favorite movies, books and podcasts that tackle the issues of race, empowerment and equity. Read our picks.

Protect Our Forests. Fix the Crossover Project

The US Forest Service is proposing a new timber sale called the Crossover Project, which would log 1,500 acres in the Snowbird Mountains in Nantahala National Forest. The proposal includes logging of backcountry and old-growth forests and would impact drinking water supply watersheds and rare species.

Act now to tell the Forest Service to protect 100 acres of ancient forests from logging, keep the Ash Cove Backcountry Area wild, and scale back road building in the steep slopes of the Snowbird Mountains. Read more and take action.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Michael Franti Returns to Play the French Broad Riverkeeper Concert

Michael Franti, the globally recognized musician, humanitarian, activist and award-winning filmmaker, returns to the Salvage Station on August 29 for a high-energy night of inspiring music in support of the work of MountainTrue’s French Broad Riverkeeper. Tickets are on pre-sale Thursday, June 17 at 10 a.m. with the purchase code FRANTILOVE. General ticket sales go live on Friday at 10 a.m..

Help Make Solar Available to More of Your Neighbors through Solarize!

As a core member of the Solarize Asheville-Buncombe coalition, MountainTrue is fundraising to make solar energy accessible to more people in our community. That’s why, in addition to the bulk purchasing discount that all Solarize participants receive, we’re crowdfunding to make solar grant funds go even further and help moderate and lower-income neighbors afford solar through our Neighbor-To-Neighbor program. In the process, we’re building community and moving Buncombe County closer to reaching our 100% renewable energy goal. Learn more about Solarize’s Neighbor-To-Neighbor solar funding program and donate here!

Become an Energy-Efficiency Volunteer and Help Weatherize 1000 Homes for Asheville Housing Authority!

Looking for a fun, hands-on volunteer opportunity to lower the energy cost burden of limited-income families AND fight climate change at the same time? Join Energy Savers Network as a volunteer for their Asheville Housing Authority Project. The goal is to retrofit 1,000 homes over the next year through simple tasks like changing light bulbs, caulking air leaks, and installing low-flow water fixtures. Read more at energysaversnetwork.org/1000-homes or sign up for a three-hour shift. Recurring volunteers and volunteer groups are welcome!

Stop The Bluffs. Come Out to the Hearing on June 24!

Volunteers have worked hard for six months to hold off The Bluffs. Now we need your help! Help fight a planned mega-development that would be built on 80 acres of intact forest directly next to Richmond Hill Park, increase traffic, and pollute the French Broad River.

Here’s How You Can Take Action:

  1. UPDATE: The Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments hearing of the Bluffs Issue that was scheduled for Thursday, June 24 meeting has been POSTPONED for 60 days. Once a new hearing is scheduled, we will send an email to let you know. 
    Attend the Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments meeting on Thursday, June 24 and wear green! It’s crucial that we have a large turnout of people that oppose the Bluffs at this meeting.

    What: Woodfin Town Board of Adjustments In-Person Meeting
    When: Thursday, June 24 at 6:30 pm
    Where: Woodfin Community Center
    20 Community Center
    Woodfin, NC 28804
  2. Donate to the Richmond Hill & River Rescue GoFundMe page. All financial contributions will help with the costs of hiring a stormwater engineer to analyze the full extent of the development’s potential impact to the French Broad River. To donate directly through MountainTrue, list your donation as restricted for Richmond Hill & River Rescue.

Learn more about The Bluffs proposal.

High Country Regional News

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

Litter Report From Boone’s First Trash Trout

This month, we installed Boone’s first Trash Trout on Winklers Creek! The trash trout is a device that collects litter while floating on the river, and in just six days after installing it, the device stopped 278 pieces of junk from flowing downstream into the New River. Our staff removed the litter from the trout and tallied the amount, types and brands of the trash collected. In this first sweep, our team found most items were styrofoam packaging from fast food restaurants, cigarette butts, plastic bags and bottles. Unfortunately, styrofoam and plastic can break down and persist in the environment for hundreds of years — well beyond our human lifespan. We appreciate the collaboration with The Town of Boone and Asheville Greenworks to make this project possible. We are excited for the role the trash trout will continue to play in cleaning up our rivers.

Beech Mountain Concert Series

The Wood Brothers playing at Beech Mountain Resort. Photo by Micah Davidson

MountainTrue is proud to partner with Beech Mountain Ski Resort and to be a part of the resort’s Summer Concert Series. Get your tickets to enjoy some great music and support the critical work of MountainTrue. You can also swing by our tent, where we will have cool MountainTrue merchandise and cold water to beat the heat. We would love to meet and talk with our supporters in the High Country. Read more and get tickets. 

Show dates and times:
Umphrey’s McGee August 6th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Umphrey’s McGee August 7th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Tedeschi/Trucks August 14th 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW
Greensky Bluegrass August 21st 5:00PM GATES / 7:00PM SHOW

July 15 – Paddle with the Watauga Riverkeeper on Price Lake

Want to meet fellow environmental enthusiasts? Come paddle on Price Lake with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue’s Water Team staff. This event will be BYOB (bring your own boat!), but kayak and canoe rentals are available onsite at Price Lake. This is one of our most pristine Swim Guide sites, with gorgeous mountain views located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Learn more. 

July 10 – Snorkel the Watauga and See the Teeming Life Just Below the Surface

Just below the surface or our rivers, an entire freshwater community is teeming with life. Get up close to rainbow and brown trout, darters and other aquatic life on this snorkel. We will provide gear, and we’ll walk you through river snorkeling safety on this guided adventure. River swimming is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Join us. 

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Asphalt Plant Developer Recognizes Defeat, Withdraws Rezoning Application Again

Once again, the community of East Flat Rock came together to defeat an asphalt plant proposal that would harm community health, clean water and local public lands. Just hours before the June 1 Board of Commissioners meeting where the rezoning application was to be decided, the developer withdrew his application because he knew he didn’t have the votes. This marks the second time we’ve defeated this dangerous proposal. A huge thanks to the neighbors who came together to stand up, speak out and tell Henderson County leaders that an industrial plan has no place in East Flat Rock. Read the full blogpost about the victory.

2021 BioBlitz Tri-County Smackdown: Can Transylvania Come Back from Behind?

Our 2021 BioBlitz is in full swing. Every year, MountainTrue hosts a bioblitz to get experts, naturalists, and nature lovers outdoors to document every living organism we can find. This year, we are hosting a regional competition – a tri-county smackdown! – to determine the 2021 champion of biodiversity. Right now, Transylvania County is trailing Jackson and Watauga counties, but I believe in underdogs. The competition doesn’t end until Sunday, June 20, so show your county pride and let’s win this WNC regional bio-battle! Find out more here and register to participate and win.

Join us for the Broad River Headwaters Fun Float on Sunday, July 18

Our Broad Riverkeeper, David Caldwell, is leading a fun paddle on the cool, shady waters of the First Broad River on Sunday, July 18! This beautiful section of river is located in the foothills of the South Mountains just a few miles west of Casar, NC. We will cover approximately five miles of river in four hours. Space is limited, so sign up.

Western Regional News

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

Let’s Win the BioBlitz for the Western Region

Our Tri-County BioBlitz competition is in full swing, and you can still participate through Sunday, June 20th! Every year, MountainTrue hosts a bioblitz to get folks outdoors with a mission to document every living organism we can find. This year, we’ve made it a regional competition between Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties to determine the 2021 champion of biodiversity.

Show off your county pride and natural curiosity in this regional bio-battle! Register to participate and win prizes. You’ll receive instructions after you register, but be sure to “Join” MountainTrue’s Jackson County Project on iNaturalist – the biodiversity website (and app!) we’re using for the bioblitz – and your observations will automatically be included in the fun.

Jackson County is in the lead, and YOU can help ensure that we win!

Help Us Improve the Forest Service’s Crossover Project

The US Forest Service is currently soliciting input on a 1,500-acre timber sale proposal in the Snowbird Mountains of Cherokee and Graham counties. We need you to tell the Forest Service to improve the proposal by protecting 100 acres of ancient forests from logging, preventing impacts to designated Natural Heritage Areas, and keeping the Ash Cove Backcountry Area wild. The Forest Service can have a successful timber project while also protecting Natural Heritage Natural Areas and existing old-growth forests. Act now to help us improve the Crossover Project!

Walking Tour of Bryson City Set for August 20th

Please join me and MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities Director, Chris Joyell, on a walking tour of downtown Bryson City. Along the way, we’ll reflect on past plans for revitalizing Main and Everett Streets, see where progress has been made, and explore how future efforts can contribute to the vitality of this historic town. We’ll also visit some ongoing projects that are making Bryson City more livable and enjoyable for residents and visitors. Register today!

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

June 5-19: 2021 BioBlitz: Tri-County Smackdown
Get out into the woods to document the natural environment in Jackson, Transylvania and Watauga counties and help crown the regional champion of biodiversity. Read more.

June 15, 9-11 a.m.: Restore Native Habitats in Hendersonville
Help combat non-native invasive plants and restore native habitats along the Oklawaha Greenway. Read more.

June 23, 12-1 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Fighting Climate Change Through Community-Powered Solar
Join MountainTrue’s Organizer & Communications Manager, Eliza Stokes, to learn about how solar energy purchasing programs in Buncombe County are helping us meet our renewable energy goals. Read more.

July 10, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Snorkel the Watauga River
Join MountainTrue’s High Country Water Quality Administrator, Hannah Woodburn, and explore the unique ecosystems of the Watauga River. Read more.

July 11, 4-5:30 pm: Summer Fun Float on Lake Junaluska
Join Western Regional Director Callie Moore for a leisurely, family-friendly float on Lake Junaluska. Organized in partnership with Haywood Waterways Association. Read more.

July 14, 12-1:00 p.m.: MountainTrue University: Climate Change and the Built Environment
Join Chris Joyell, Director of the Asheville Design Center and MountainTrue’s Healthy Communities Program, as we explore how climate change will impact our decisions around affordable housing, transportation and racial equity. Read more.

July 18, 10 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.: First Broad River Headwaters Fun Float
Join MountainTrue as we head up to the South Mountains for a fun paddle on the cool, shady waters of the First Broad River! Read more.

August 20, 10 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Bryson City Downtown Walking Tour
Join Western Regional Director Callie Moore and Healthy Communities Director Chris Joyell for a walking tour and discussion on past, present and future plans for revitalizing downtown and making Bryson City more livable. Read more.

August 21, 10:00 a.m.- 2 p.m.: Fontana Lake Historic Paddle
Explore the Hazel Creek arm of Fontana Lake and the remnants of Proctor, NC – a town that was evacuated and flooded when the lake was created in 1944. Read more.

August 28 – September 6: Second Annual Broad River Fishing Tournament
No cash, no prizes. What’s on the line is the title of “Broad River’s Best Angler.” Read our tournament rules and sign up.

September 18, 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Asheville Urban Bike Tour
Learn about Asheville’s urban core, how redlining has shaped our city and what the future could hold for Asheville with Chris Joyell. Read more.

September 18, 7-11:30 p.m.: Broad River Moonlight Float
Come paddle the Broad River by the light of the moon. Read more.


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.

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Celebrate Juneteenth with Black Media and Stories About the Struggle for Freedom

Image credit: The late Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther. Disney

This Saturday is Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery. The story of Juneteenth goes back to when Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans of their freedom on June 19, 1895 — two months after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Granger’s announcement put into effect the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been issued two and a half years earlier by President Abraham Lincoln.

Since Juneteenth falls on a Saturday this year, MountainTrue will be observing the day on Friday, and our offices will be closed for a long weekend. To help celebrate the end of American slavery, MountainTrue staff offer up some of our favorite movies, books and podcasts that tackle the issues of race, empowerment and equity.

Susan Bean, our Director of Engagement, recommends the 2016 documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” by Raoul Peck. The film is based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript Remember This House and explores the history of racism in the United States.

For a fist-pumping blockbuster that still offers a lot to think about, Susan also recommends “Black Panther.” The Marvel superhero flick features an almost entirely Black cast, grapples with challenging issues facing people of African descent, both in America and in Africa, and is highly entertaining. Western Regional Director Callie Moore chimed into our email thread to second this recommendation.

Susan also suggests “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a 2014 article in The Atlantic magazine that lays out a thoughtful and compelling case for why America needs to reckon with the question of what we owe to the descendants of enslaved people in this country.

AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator Grace Fuchs recommends the book Black Indians: A Hidden Heritage by William Loren Katz. This accessible nonfiction work dives into the often-overlooked history of mixed Blacks and Natives and brings to light the challenges of blood quantum laws, marriage laws and slavery. Parts of the book focus on South Eastern Tribes, so it’s locally relevant too.

Forest Keeper Coordinator Tamia Dame recommends the Netflix film 13th, a thought-provoking documentary that analyzes the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S prison boom; Judas and the Black Messiah, the Oscar-winning biopic of Black Panther Fred Hampton; and the podcasts Code Switch and Louder Than A Riot on NPR and Resistance by Gimlet media. Tamia extolls, “The three podcasts are phenomenal, but Louder Than a Riot might be my favorite. For both Resistance and Louder, I’d recommend listening to them in their entireties.”

Communications Director Karim Olaechea recommends the four-part HBO series “Exterminate All the Brutes,” in which filmmaker and activist Raoul Peck mixes documentary, personal stories, and historical reenactment to tell the history of white supremacy, slavery, and colonialism. Karim also recommends “King In The Wilderness,” a documentary by Peter W. Kunhardt that explores how Martin Luther King Jr. followed his heart and put his life on the line to expand the fight for civil rights into a Poor People’s Campaign against racism, war, and poverty.

Finally, Healthy Communities Director Chris Joyell chimes in with a simple but very appropriate recommendation: “I realized that I have never read the actual text of the Emancipation Proclamation. I find it really interesting that Lincoln framed it as a wartime measure necessary to suppress the rebellion. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought the proclamation was the catalyst for the Civil War, and the attack on Ft. Sumter was a response to that proclamation. Instead, Lincoln delivers this almost two years into the war.”

We hope this list offers plenty of inspiration for your Juneteenth weekend. Have yourself a happy Emancipation Day!


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.