Healthy Forests = Good Fishing

Healthy Forests = Good Fishing

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by Fred Mix

I’ve been an avid fisherman since before I could speak. In fact, I’ve even got a photo of me holding up a fish I caught from when I was still in diapers. And in all my time fishing, I’ve never been as concerned about the health of our rivers and streams as I am now.

That’s why I support MountainTrue — they help keep our rivers and streams fishable and clean.

One of my favorite fishing spots lies just below the Forest Service’s proposed Buck Project timber sale. The exact spot is this fisherman’s secret, but it’s a beautiful stream designated as an Outstanding Resource Water by the NC Department of Environmental Quality. Buck Creek is one of the largest and most biologically diverse of its type in WNC. It’s also the largest tributary of the Nantahala River above the headwaters, where there is no commercial development.

Not long ago, the Forest Service invited me and other stakeholders to tour the Buck Project site and assure us that we had nothing to worry about. They’re planning to cut new roads, bury culverts to redirect water and then to take them out when they finish up. While they told me this, all I could think about was all the water and mud that would wash right down the valley into Buck Creek. If they push this project through, our pristine waterway is gone. The Forest Service staff are good people, reasonable and smart, but are dead set on cutting those trees no matter the cost.

When I was younger, we caught a fish and we killed it. We were takers back then. Now I catch and release because I’m more interested in preserving what we have. Unfortunately, the Forest Service is stuck in the taking mode.

You can help protect our Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests by supporting MountainTrue’s PublicLands Team. Join as a MountainTrue member today and protect places like Buck Creek – because it’s the right thing to do, now and for future generations.

Fred Mix is a life-long Fisherman & MountainTrue supporter. He was born in New Orleans, raised in Atlanta, and has lived most of his life somewhere between Bluffton, SC and the Nantahala Gorge. Fred spent 11 years in the fire service, and has maintained a boat brokerage business for the last 30 years. He is an avid fisherman who volunteers his time and expertise surveying fish populations in Nantahala.

Protect the Places We Share

Have fun with us, learn more about the incredible natural treasures of our region, and make a difference in your community.


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.

Nov. Vistas E-Newsletter

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Creation Care Alliance Retreat 2020 Announced for Feb. 7-8

The Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina will hold its 2020 retreat on Friday, February 7-8 at the Montreat Conference Center. This year’s retreat welcomes both clergy and creation care volunteers, and will allow you to spend a day with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, and local colleagues and pastoral innovators. Whether you’re new to creation care or a long-time advocate, you’ll gain new language and tools to inspire your congregation to care for the environment, interwoven with space for rest, relationship, prayer and good food. Read more.

Giving Tuesday Save the Date

December 3 is #GivingTuesday – the international day of giving back to our communities and our planet. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are about getting deals, #GivingTuesday is about coming together to support and champion the causes we believe in, and the communities in which we live.

MountainTrue and our members protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for clean energy and a sound and sustainable future for all residents of our mountain region.

Consider making a donation this #GivingTuesday in support of MountainTrue to protect the places we share.

Central Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Buncombe County Takes Crucial First Step In Meeting Renewable Goals

On November 5, Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to request proposals for solar energy on county-owned buildings and land. With their vote, the County has taken a crucial first step in walking their talk on their renewable energy resolution, which sets a goal of transitioning Buncombe County’s government operations to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

But this is just a first step. When they discussed renewable energy, some Commissioners weren’t convinced that it’s an urgent priority. They need to hear that Buncombe County residents want them to go beyond exploring renewable energy to funding and building it – and that they need to get started as soon as possible.

Take action here to tell Buncombe County Commissioners: Thank you for voting to approve the solar request for proposals (RFP). Now, fund solar energy when proposals come back in the spring.

Mountaintrue And City Of Asheville Help Build New Falconhurst Trail System

The City of Asheville has partnered with MountainTrue’s Asheville Design Center to assist the Falconhurst neighborhood in building a new system of natural surface trails within the Falconhurst Nature Preserve. The Falconhurst Nature Preserve is a 7.9 acre parcel and the trail system will be a couple of loop trails that meander throughout the property.

“We are excited to give people the opportunity to explore this hidden gem in West Asheville,” said ADC’s Chris Joyell. “Our neighborhood volunteers will prepare the trails this winter, and we encourage folks to hike the trails next spring. Read more.

Tickets For The 2020 French Broad Riverkeeper Float Go On Sale Monday, Nov. 25

Next year’s annual French Broad Riverkeeper Float will take place on June 24-26, and tickets go on sale next Monday. This incredible trip down a stretch of the French Broad River is a great opportunity to create powerful memories of camping under the stars on the French Broad River Paddle Trail. Leave the hustle behind and experience the joys of river travel while having your meals provided, your campfire built and your gear transported for you to your next campsite. Read more.

High Country Regional News

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

Watauga Riverkeeper Welcomes Newest Member To Our Clean Water Team

Meet Cullen Birdsong Hill, born on October 18 to Betty Hill and her husband Andy, our Watauga Riverkeeper. It’s been a bit cold out, so you’ll have to wait until late spring before we can share a photo of Andy dipping him into the river.

Watauga Livestaking Program Combats Sediment Pollution

This year’s High Country live staking program kicked off with the Shade Your Stream Workshop, held by the Watauga Riverkeeper, New River Conservancy, and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development, where participants planted 400 trees along the Watauga in just one morning. That’s a great start. Livestakes are essentially baby trees (like Cullen) that grow root systems that help prevent stream banks from eroding and depositing sediment — our biggest source of water pollution — into the river. The more livestakes that we can plant this winter, the cleaner our river will be in future years. Come out and lend a helping hand: additional “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on December 6, December 13, February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Andy Hill Nominated For Best Environmentalist

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill is honored to have been nominated by the community for Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine’s Best of the Blue Ridge Award — the largest and most prestigious outdoor awards in the Southeast. Voting concluded on November 7, and the winners will be announced in the January 2020 issue and online at blueridgeoutdoors.com. Winners will be recognized by newspapers, magazines, shops, and businesses across the region.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

PHHAT Crew Rescues ‘Buddy’ In Green River Gorge, Protects 1000th Hemlock Tree

On Sunday, November 3, the Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT), a partnership between our MountainTrue’s Green Riverkeeper, Hemlock Restoration Initiative, American Whitewater, and NC Wildlife Resources Commission, set out into the upper section of the Green River Gorge to protect hemlocks from the deadly woolly adelgid. As they paddled down Class III-IV whitewater getting deeper into the wilderness, they heard a bark, and a dog came down to greet our team by the water. The poor thing was lost and had been out for at least a night or two. We went into action, safely evacuating the dog back upstream to a trail where we were able to hike him out and turn him over to county animal services. The next day, “Buddy” was reunited with his family in Saluda who had been missing him since Friday. After this great demonstration of teamwork, the team continued downriver to treat several stands of hemlocks. This project has now protected more than 1,000 trees since we started two years ago!

‘From Climate Talk To Citizen Action’ Forum Draws Over 250 Attendees

On Sunday, October 27, MountainTrue cosponsored the “From Climate Talk to Citizen Action.” forum at Grace Lutheran Church in Hendersonville. The event was organized by local residents under the banner of Citizens Concerned with the Climate Crisis with the support of MountainTrue and others. Over 250 people turned out to hear speakers including David Eastering, Director of National Climate Assessment for NOAA — who offered an overview of climate science and projections. There was a panel discussion covering topics such as farming, plant-based diet, engaging faith communities, policy change, and technology. Celia Donaldson, President of the Student Body at Hendersonville High School, concluded the event by delivering an impassioned speech that implored adults to take action for the sake of future generations. The energy and momentum was palpable, and we look forward to capitalizing on this energy for positive change as we work to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change in WNC.

Western Regional News

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

Save The Date: Our 12th Annual Watershed Gala Will Be On February 27th

Make plans now to join us on Thursday, February 27, 2020 for the 12th Annual Watershed Gala in the Charles Suber Banquet Hall at Young Harris College, Young Harris, Georgia. Reservations will be $50 each or $360 for a reserved table of eight and will include complimentary drink tickets.

The Watershed Gala is our annual event to celebrate the water quality of the many rivers, lakes and streams across the upper Hiwassee River watershed and to recognize those who work to sustain it. The Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition is now part of MountainTrue, but this is still our largest fundraiser. We hope you will join us for a delightful evening of food, laughter, and fun and to help honor the 2020 Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner! More details coming soon!

Thank You for Helping Us Remove One Ton of Trash From Lake Chatuge

Despite temperatures below freezing and a cold wind, 41 volunteers turned out on Saturday morning, November 9 to clean up the shoreline of Lake Chatuge! Volunteers picked up 1.08 tons of trash – bringing our 9-year total to just over 12 tons! Thanks to TVA, Towns County Government, Boundary Waters Resort & Marina, the US Forest Service, Mary’s Southern Grill, Papa’s Pizza To-Go, and Sundance Grill for the sponsorships, in-kind donations and prizes.

MountainTrue Western Regional Director, Callie Moore (4th from right) presents members of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at Young Harris College along with Devin Filicicchia (left) and Dr. Charlie Swor (back) a gift certificate for a pizza party at Papa’s Pizza To-Go – the prize for the team that picked up the most trash.

Members of the Rotary Club of Lake Chatuge-Hiawassee stand with the trash collected at one Towns County location on the Lake Chatuge shoreline.

We Need Volunteers to Provide Lunches for Alternative Break Program

MountainTrue is continuing the Alternative Breaks program in the Hiwassee River watershed during the December winter break! During alternative breaks, college students choose to take part in service projects instead of relaxing during their seasonal break from classes. This year, we are hosting groups from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan and Georgia Southern University during the week of December 15-20. Volunteers are needed to provide lunch for 16-24 students on four different weekdays. Help us fuel all their hard work; they really appreciate both the meals and the community engagement!


Volunteer, Barbara Lanwermeyer serves lunch to a group of alternative break participants in 2017.

To volunteer, email Callie (callie@mountaintrue.org). If mid-December is not a good time for you to help, you’ll have another opportunity in 2020, as we already have three schools confirmed for alternative spring breaks starting the week of February 23.

Buck Project Update: Forest Service Holds Objection Resolution Meeting

Mountain True Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly and Western Regional Director Callie Moore joined other partners represented by Southern Environmental Law Center in an objection resolution meeting on November 8 with the US Forest Service. The partners are opposed to the forest service’s latest proposal to build 8.9 miles of road and harvest timber in sensitive areas. (You can read more about the Buck Project and our objections here.)

Two other objectors who wanted to see more logging in the Buck Project area were also present. Forest Supervisor, Allen Nicholas actively listened to better understand the concerns of all parties during the professionally-facilitated session. The Forest Service intends to provide a response to our objection by December 16th.

Events & Opportunities

Nov. 20: Plugged in Buncombe: Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment
In an effort to encourage Buncombe County residents to get plugged into our local democracy, we want you to join us at advisory board or committee meetings. These meetings are designed to encourage residents’ input on specific community issues at the city and county level. Read more.

Dec. 4: Bearwallow Contemplative Hike w/ CCA in Hendersonville
Join us for a contemplative fall hike up Bearwallow mountain. This easy-to-moderate trail climbs one mile through lovely mountain forest, and opens up onto a large grassy field at the top. Read more.

Watauga Riverkeeper Paddle-n-Plant Workdays
Reduce the amount of sediment that flows into our rivers by planting live-stakes along eroding river banks with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue. Sign up for:
Dec. 6 workday
Dec. 13 workday
Feb. 9 workday
Feb. 16 workday 
Mar. 13 workday

Dec. 7: Alexander River Park Public Workday in Alexander
Join Asheville GreenWorks, MountainTrue and RiverLink for a restoration extravaganza! Take part in River Cane Propagation, Invasive Removal, Tree Planting and Stream Cleanup. Read more.

Dec. 12: Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Plastic Reduction Task Force & Trash Trout
Eric Bradford, Director of Operations with Asheville GreenWorks, will join us to discuss the issue of plastics and waste reduction efforts in WNC. Read more. 

Feb. 7-8 Creation Care Retreat in Montreat
Designed with creation care volunteers and clergy in mind, this retreat allows you to spend a day with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, and local colleagues and pastoral innovators. 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.

Vistas E-News, October 2019

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MountainTrue Annual Gathering At New Belgium

Join us on October 23rd for our 2019 Annual Gathering at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville. Expect great beer, delicious food and great camaraderie.

Stronger Together: MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering
October 23, 6-9 pm
New Belgium Brewing Company
21 Craven St., Asheville, NC 28806
Click Here to RSVP

MountainTrue is a member organization, and your dedication and support helps us fight for our communities and protect one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet. At the Annual Gathering we’ll be honoring our 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners, voting on our new board nominees and celebrating our recent merger with the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition.

MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering is made possible with the help of the law firm of Davis & Whitlock Environmental Law. Together with New Belgium Brewing, their generous support helps us keep costs for the Annual Gathering low.

Vote On Our New Board Nominees

MountainTrue’s board members are voted on and approved by our current members. With so many new members throughout our region, this year we are rolling out electronic voting. You must be a current member for your vote to count.

Vote Online Now

Online votes will be tallied along with a live vote that will take place at our Annual Gathering.

Meet Our 2019 MountainTrue Award Winners

MountainTrue is proud to announce our annual award winners for 2019. These awards are given to MountainTrue members and volunteers who have been outstanding in their commitment to preserving WNC’s natural heritage. Awards will be formally presented at our Annual Gathering on October 23.

  • Esther Cunningham Award Winner: Katie Breckheimer
  • Volunteer of the Year for the High Country Region: Chris Souhrada
  • Volunteers of the Year for the Southern Region: Kay Shurtleff and Lucy Butler
  • Volunteer of the Year for the Western Region: Charlie Swor
  • Volunteer of the Year for the Central Region: Erin Gregory

Read more about our MountainTrue Award winners.

Nominate MountainTrue For Best Of The Blue Ridge Awards

Cast your vote for your favorite outdoor organizations, businesses, events, people and destinations. The nomination window for Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Best of the Blue Ridge closes on October 18 at 9AM. We would appreciate your support for Best Environmental Organization in the Businesses category. Vote now.

Calling Volunteers Who Like To Hike!

In advance of the release of the next management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, we are looking for volunteers who are interested in talking to hikers, anglers, birders or any type of recreational user at trailheads and parking lots about how they can help ensure the places they like to access are protected. If you’re interested in being part of our trail outreach team, please fill out this short sign up form.


 

Central Region News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

Building Our City Speaker Series Addresses Walkability And Road Diets

Jeff Speck is a city planner and urban designer who advocates internationally for more walkable cities. We are excited for him to come to Asheville to inspire our community to imagine and plan for a more vibrant, walkable city. Jeff will be touching on the upcoming Charlotte St. road diet project which will decrease vehicle traffic lanes in order to add bike lanes and other bike and pedestrian friendly features. Join us to hear how projects like this will transform our community!
Read more.

Plugged In Buncombe Makes It Easier To Participate In Local Democracy

Have you ever wanted to attend a local government meeting, but worried you wouldn’t be able to follow along? This fall, MountainTrue is working to remove this roadblock through Plugged in Buncombe, an effort to demystify local advisory boards and committees. Participants will get the background on each meeting they’re interested in, and will be paired up with local topic experts who will be available to answer questions before and after each meeting. See the full list of meetings here and sign up to participate here.

Paint-Out And Artist Retreat To Preserve The French Broad

Join Preserving a Picturesque America (PAPA) for a free four day retreat in Hot Springs from Oct. 24-27. Conservationists, writers, artists are invited to participate in creating, learning and sharing ways to preserve the scenic beauty of the French Broad River. PAPA will be giving tours to sites that were depicted in the 1872 book, Picturesque America. The goal is to create an updated version of the book to promote the protection of these sites. For more details contact Scott Varn at 828-273-5383. Check out the Facebook Event.

Join The Buncombe County Parks, Greenway And Recreation Advisory Board

The Buncombe County Parks, Greenways, and Recreation Advisory Board was dissolved a few years ago but is now being reestablished. The County is starting from scratch and is seeking to get representation from a wide cross section of residents. The inaugural board will have a tremendous influence on goals and processes — a big task, but an important one. If you have a passion for parks, greenways and recreation, apply here.

High Country Regional News

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

Watauga Live Staking Season Kicks Off On October 18 In Boone

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill is looking for some hearty volunteers to help stabilize local riverbanks. Volunteers will plant “live stakes” — a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks. They grow into trees and their root systems shore up riverbanks and reduce erosion.

The series kicks off with a Shade Your Stream workshop in partnership with the New River Conservancy and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development Council and takes place this Friday, October 18, 2019 at the Watauga County Agricultural Conference Center. Learn more.

Additional “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on November 8, November 15, December 6, December 13, February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Watauga Riverkeeper Conducts Hellbender And Mussel Survey

Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill scuba diving with a headlamp. 

As part of the environmental impact survey for a dam removal project in the Watauga River Basin, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill joined Dr. Mike Gangloff from Appalachian State University to conduct a survey of Hellbenders and Green Floater Mussels — a species of special concern and a threatened species, respectively. The aim of the project is to improve aquatic habitat and to ensure that dam removal does not harm these local treasures.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Green Riverkeeper Tracks Down Sewer Leak

Over the summer of Swim Guide bacteria sampling, we got some unusually high E. coli results in Cove Creek below Little Bradley Falls. Green Riverkeeper Gray Jernigan received a tip about a broken sewer line from a Saluda resident and did some follow up testing. Upstream the water tested clean. Twenty yards downstream was nine times over the EPA limit of 235 coliform forming units per 100 mL of water. The Green Riverkeeper has contacted the Town of Saluda and we’ll be working with them to get this fixed.

Help Save The Hemlocks Of The Green River

The eastern hemlocks of our Green River Gorge are under attack by the hemlock woolly adelgid, an exotic invasive insect that will kill most of our region’s hemlock trees within the decade unless action is taken. Join the Paddlers Hemlock Health Action Taskforce (PHHAT) for a day on the Lower or Upper Green River treating and saving hemlocks. For the Lower Green, no experience is necessary. For the November 3 workday on the Upper Green, all volunteers must have their own gear and be experienced on Class III whitewater. Sign up for one of four upcoming workdays:

Western Regional News

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

Support Native Habitats, Buy A Native Tree Or Shrub

Native trees and shrubs are important to the integrity of local habitats and key components to healthy streams and lakes. They provide shelter and food for native animals, filter pollution from water runoff, trap excess soil, keep water water temperatures cooler and help prevent stream bank erosion.

To raise awareness about the beautiful, resilient plants that are native to our Southern Appalachian Mountains and to raise funds for our ongoing invasive plant eradication efforts, we are again holding a Native Tree and Shrub Sale this fall. Choose from 25 species of native trees and shrubs, ranging from large shade trees, native ornamentals, pollinator species, and those particularly beneficial to wildlife.
Read more and order yours.

Callie Takes Part In Panel Discussion On Water & Climate Change

MountainTrue’s Western Regional Director, Callie Moore, participated in a well-attended film screening and panel discussion presented by WNC Climate Action Coalition on September 21 at Lake Junaluska. Panelists, which also included David Weintraub, director of the film Guardians of our Troubled Waters, and Eric Romaniszyn, executive director of Haywood Waterways Association, discussed local rivers, water quality and climate change-related impacts. Extreme weather events associated with climate change are causing increases in runoff, flooding and landslides across our mountain region. Panelists discussed how this is impacting water quality and straining our water infrastructure. Thanks to MountainTrue member, Neva Duncan Tabb for facilitating MountainTrue’s participation and providing signage to call attention to our table at the event. (Photo: Callie & Neva Duncan Tabb)

Save The Date! The Hiwassee Watershed Gala Returns On February 27, 2020

The 12th Annual Watershed Gala and Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award presentation will be held on February 27, 2020. This is our annual celebration and a chance to recognize all of our members, supporters and volunteers who work to keep our Hiwassee watershed healthy and clean. We hope you will join us for a delightful evening of food, laughter, and fun. Further details to come.

Upcoming Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Now – Nov. 11: Fall Native Tree And Shrub Sale In Murphy
Choose from 25 species of native trees and shrubs, including large shade trees, native ornamentals, pollinator species, and those particularly beneficial to wildlife, and support the work of MountainTrue.

Oct. 16: Plugged In Buncombe
In an effort to encourage Buncombe County residents to get plugged into our local democracy, we want you to join us at advisory board or committee meetings. These meetings are designed to encourage residents’ input on specific community issues at the city and county level.
3:30-5:30 p.m.: Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and Environment
5:00-7 p.m.: Planning & Zoning Commission

Oct. 18: Shade Your Stream Workshop With The Watauga Riverkeeper And Friends
Join our Watauga Riverkeeper, the New River Conservancy, and Blue Ridge Resource and Conservation Development for a workshop focused on stream bank repair and live staking techniques.

Oct. 22, Nov. 1, 3 & 10: PHHAT Hemlock Treatment Workday On The Green River
Save the hemlocks of the Green River from the invasive hemlock wooly adelgid.
Sign up for the Oct. 22 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 1 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 3 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 10 workday. 

Oct. 22: High Country Habitat Restoration Workday
Learn about some of the worst invasives in the region and help clean up the Boone Greenway with MountainTrue and the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition.

Oct. 23: Stronger Together: MountainTrue’s 2019 Annual Gathering
Celebrate another great year of protecting the places we share with MountainTrue at New Belgium Brewing in Asheville.

Nov. 2: Guardians Of Our Troubled Waters Film Exhibition In Mill Spring
Join filmmaker David Weintraub for a screening of and discussion about his documentary featuring the stories of the river heroes who helped clean up our waters.

Nov. 7: Plugged In Buncombe: Planning And Zoning Commission
Learn about the works of the Planning and Zoning Commission and how you can get involved in helping to steer future development in the city of Asheville.

Nov. 6: Building Our City Speaker Series With Jeff Speck In Asheville
Prepare to be inspired at this latest installment of the Building Our City Speaker Series featuring Jeff Speck, a city planner and urban designer who advocates or more walkable cities.

Nov. 8 & 15: Watauga Riverkeeper Paddle-N-Plant Workday
Reduce the amount of sediment that flows into our rivers by planting live-stakes along eroding river banks with the Watauga Riverkeeper and MountainTrue.
Sign up for the Nov. 8 workday.
Sign up for the Nov. 15 workday.

Nov. 9: Lake Chatuge Clean Up
MountainTrue hosts the 10th Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup in conjunction with Georgia Rivers Alive! The first 100 volunteers receive a free Rivers Alive t-shirt.

Nov. 14: Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Story Of DuPont State Recreational Forest
Sara Landry, Executive Director with Friends of DuPont State Forest will join us to discuss the story of DuPont State Forest.

Check out our full Events Calendar


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.

Diana Richards invites you to attend an evening with the Green and Broad Riverkeepers

Uncategorized


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’s Response to Forest Service Message on the Buck Project

MountainTrue’s Response to Forest Service Message on the Buck Project

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MountainTrue’s Public Lands Biologist, Josh Kelly, next to a “temporary road” built by the Forest Service in 2012 in Nantahala National Forest. 


This May, MountainTrue spread the word and made a call for public comments against the Forest Service’s preferred alternative for the Buck Project, which we believe is
one of the worst timber cutting proposals in the history of Nantahala National Forest. 

It came to our attention that many of the people who commented on the project through our online action alert received a message from Steverson Moffat, NEPA Planning Team Leader for the Forest Service, and they were curious as to what to make of it and how to respond. While we’re glad that the Forest Service is taking the time to engage with people who comment on their projects, we have a very different interpretation of the Buck Project than what was shared in the Forest Service’s message.

In the Forest Service’s response (which is included below), it is clear that the Forest Service sees a “need” to create more young forest in the Buck Project Area for disturbance-dependent wildlife species like the ruffed grouse. Not surprisingly, the majority of the logging projects in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests use exactly the same justification. It is true that scrub, shrub, woodland (an open forest), and grassland habitats and the species that depend on them are in trouble because natural processes like fire, floods, and large-scale grazing have been interrupted or destroyed by a largely developed landscape.

Sustainable timber harvest can be used as a surrogate for these suppressed natural processes to provide habitat for declining species; however, we don’t believe that we must sacrifice the last wild areas of our National Forests and habitat for sensitive rare species to make way for open habitat. Our National Forests are large enough for both values, but only some areas are suitable for each.

As the Forest Service notes, there are over 20,000 acres of public land in the Buck Project Area. What is not noted is that this is one of the wildest places left in the Appalachians. Over 400 acres of timber harvest can be attained there without cutting existing old-growth, habitat for rare species, or building roads into areas that are ideal for backcountry management. A similar amount could be harvested from the developed footprint of the area every 10-20 years in perpetuity. To get at more will require road building into the Chunky Gal potential Wilderness Addition and cutting in sensitive habitats. 

One of the biggest concerns we have with Mr. Moffat’s letter is the claim that the proposed road building and logging won’t affect the status of Chunky Gal in the new forest plan. Building miles of roads and cutting 20-acre blocks of this area will decrease the Buck Project Area’s natural qualities, making it much less likely to be recommended as Wilderness or Backcountry in the new forest plan. The planning rule literally uses “apparent naturalness” as the standard for whether areas qualify for Wilderness and Backcountry management.  If the Chunky Gal area isn’t managed as Backcountry in the new plan, it leaves the area open to development with road systems in the future.

The Forest Service also makes the assertion that temporary roads are “an attempt to tread as lightly as possible on the landscape while meeting management objectives.”  In fact, “temporary roads” are no more temporary than any other logging roads. They would need to be 14-20 feet wide in order to support the large equipment and trucks needed to harvest hundreds of acres of forest. These roads would be temporary in name only, and would persist for decades on the ground. 

Furthermore, Forest Service regulations state that for a road to be categorized as “temporary” it can only be used once. Some of these “temporary” roads have already been used in two other timber sales in the past 20 years by the Forest Service. If a road will knowingly be used repeatedly, it is required to be added to the official Forest Service system. The problem is, that requires maintenance money that the Forest Service doesn’t have. If roads aren’t maintained, erosion into streams is a significant hazard. The Forest Service currently has an $8.4 billion backlog for needed road maintenance nationwide. When the Forest Service disregards its own regulations in order to get out of road maintenance requirements at the expense of water quality, it’s fair to call that an accounting trick. Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests need to maintain the 2,300 miles of road they already have before building new ones.

The message also states that “the Forest Service specialists who are tasked with managing the Nantahala National Forest take seriously the responsibility entrusted to them by the American people and strive to balance the needs of the ecosystem with the often conflicting desires of the public.”

The Forest Service has every opinion inside its ranks that you find in the American public at large. There are many Forest Service employees who disagree with aspects of the Buck Project as proposed. To frame the proposal for this project, which would develop the area with miles of roads and hundreds of acres of logging, as being consistent with the needs of the ecosystem is arguable at best.

MountainTrue believes the solution is to find the places where society’s need for wood, wildlife’s need for scrubby habitat, and the conditions of the forest align so that timber harvest makes sense at all three levels. That’s why we support a modified Alternative D that does not build new roads, stays out of existing old-growth forest, and does not harm natural heritage areas.

It is clear at the local and the national level that the Forest Service wants to cut more timber. The way to accomplish that is not to harm the fantastic biodiversity of the Blue Ridge Mountains by developing the last wild places and cutting areas identified as biological gems like the disputed parts of the Buck Project. We can achieve all our goals in a much more environmentally sound way by opting for a modified Alternative D.

Original Message From The Forest Service

You’re receiving this message because you commented on the Tusquitee Ranger District’s Buck Project during the notice and comment period in April and May of 2019. Under normal circumstances, you would have received this reply within about two weeks of the end of the comment period, but I had some family business that took me out of town for a few days in mid and late-May and, well, things got a little backed up.

I have taken the liberty of attaching the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to this message that was (and still is) available for review during the N&C period. Maps of the project area and proposed treatments, which are too megabyte-rich for email, can be found by following this link and clicking the “Analysis” tab: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=50345. I strongly encourage you to read the EA because it addresses many of the issues that you have raised.

To directly respond to specific points and concerns most of you shared with us in your correspondence:

  •         Everyone who works for the National Forests in North Carolina also loves and appreciates our public lands and the natural values they provide, including those listed in your messages: clean water, wildlife habitat, hunting, fishing, recreation, solitude, nature study, and much more.
  •         Yes, the Buck Project analysis area is part of an iconic Appalachian landscape, and needs our care. Referencing Chapter 1 of the EA,
  • There are currently 111 acres of forest in the 0 – 10 year age class, and 18 acres in the 11 – 20 year age class. This habitat type, once too abundant in the wake of extractive logging in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is now rare across the Nantahala National Forest (EA at page 7). Young forest stands, those 20 years and younger, typically, provide critical age class and structural diversity that provide critical habitat for a wide variety of non-game and game wildlife species that require interior forest early successional habitat (ESH) to complete some, or all, of their life cycles (please see the references cited and hyperlinked on pages 6 and 7 of the EA). The Forest Service is balancing this need for ESH while also conserving older forest stands, which also provide important habitat for non-game and game wildlife.
  • Currently, 14,222 acres of the Buck Analysis area are 81 years and older; by the completion of the proposed project, this total will increase to 17,811 acres, or 86% of the analysis area.
  •         Care has been taken to locate treatments in areas that do not contain habitat for rare plants or, where work is proposed near rare plant populations, buffers and exclusion zones have been established to maintain appropriate habitat conditions (EA at pages 35 and 36).
  •         The Forest Service has evaluated the proposed actions on areas that have been identified as lands that may be suitable for wilderness and has determined that project activities would have no impacts to the wilderness characteristics of the Boteler and Chunky Gal inventory areas (EA at pages 28 and 29).
  •         Potential impacts of temporary road prisms and other project activities on soil and water resources are presented in sections 3.2.1, 3.6, and 3.7 of the EA.
  •         Proposing temporary roads is not, from our perspective, an “accounting trick”, but rather an attempt to tread as lightly as possible on the landscape while meeting management objectives.

Other topics addressed in the EA include the direct, indirect, and cumulative effects to management indicator species, communities, and special habitats; proposed, endangered, and threatened species; regionally sensitive and forest concern species; old growth forest; air resources; timber resources; heritage resources; recreation resources; scenery; social and economic considerations; road management; and climate change.

The Forest Service specialists who are tasked with managing the Nantahala National Forest take seriously the responsibility entrusted to them by the American people and strive to balance the needs of the ecosystem with the often conflicting desires of the public. We are currently reviewing all comments on the Buck Project and anticipate releasing a draft decisional EA and draft Decision Notice later this summer. You will be receiving those documents by email when they are released for the 45 day objection period. Until then, should you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best, 

Steverson

Steverson Moffat, Ph.D.

NEPA Planning Team Leader, Forest Service, Nantahala National Forest


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.

Callie Moore – Bio

Callie Moore, Western Regional Director

Callie served as Director of the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition for 17 years until the organization merged with MountainTrue in 2019. She has a Master’s Degree in Water Resources from Indiana University and is a graduate of Western Carolina University’s (WCU) Environmental Health Program. Before HRWC, Callie was a river basin planner for the NCDENR, Division of Water Quality, during which time she worked extensively in several WNC river basins including the Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, and Savannah. Other prior work experience includes water quality monitoring, sediment/erosion control compliance inspections, and environmental education for the Tennessee Dept. of Environment & Conservation and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Callie is a graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership, Leadership Chatuge and she served on the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Community Leadership Council.

Although Callie grew up in middle Tennessee, throughout her life her family vacationed at their home at Lake Junaluska. It was then and while at WCU, that she developed a rich knowledge and love of western North Carolina and its rivers.

She and husband, Philip, currently live with cat, Tessa, in the Tusquitee Community of Clay County, NC. She enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities in her spare time, as well as making hand-stamped greeting cards and helping out around Moore Farm. In addition to being involved in the community through her church, Callie is a member of the Rotary Club of Clay County and serves on the board of the Unaka Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

envelope callie@mountaintrue.org
phone (828) 837-5414


We value mountain communities that are vibrant, livable, and respectful of their connection to and dependence on the region’s natural environment.
We value the integrity of natural systems – air, land, water, and native plants and animals – and believe in protecting and restoring them for the benefit of all generations.

  1. HCO Paddle-n-Plant Workday

    December 6 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
  2. Alexander River Park Public Workday

    December 7 @ 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
  3. Hendersonville Green Drinks: The Plastic Reduction Task Force & the Trash Trout

    December 12 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
  4. HCO Paddle-n-Plant Workday

    December 13 @ 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
  5. Richmond Hill Habitat Restoration Workday

    December 14 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm