Call on NCDEQ: Update NC’s Spill Notification System to Keep People and Waterways Safe

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North Carolina’s notification system for pollution spills hasn’t caught up to modern times. The only public notice required for polluting our waterways is an outdated law that calls for polluters to send a press release and post an ad in a newspaper.

MountainTrue believes the public has a right to know about major pollution spills that impact our waterways as soon as possible, and through the technology the public uses today. Sign the petition below to tell NCDEQ: update NC’s spill notification system for the 21st century. 

Many people no longer get their news from print newspapers, and in many WNC counties papers only run once or twice a week. Yet here’s the current state law: When a polluter spills over 1,000 gallons of sewage into a waterway, the polluter is required to notify the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) and to send out a press release to local news media within 24 hours. If a sewage spill is over 15,000 gallons, it must also be published in the newspapers of affected counties in the form of an advertisement within 10 days. For any other type of pollution, no public notification is required.

The current law means residents can be exposed to polluted waterways for days before learning about a spill in a newspaper – and newspapers aren’t even required to publish this news even then. 

On January 14, MountainTrue’s water team will meet with DEQ staff to urge them to upgrade their spill notification system. But to win their support, we need to show them that the public cares about this issue.

Sign the petition below to tell the NC Department of Environmental Quality: Update your spill notification system for modern times to keep North Carolina’s people and waterways safe. 


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.

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

Historic Settlement Results In Largest Coal Ash Cleanup In America

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On January 2, MountainTrue, other community partners and our legal counsel the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced a historic settlement with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The agreement mandates that 80 million tons of coal ash will be excavated from six Duke Energy coal ash sites: Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. Prior settlements and court orders require cleanups and excavation of coal ash at the eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina for the excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash. This agreement now puts in place a comprehensive cleanup plan for all coal ash lagoons at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina under which 126 million tons of ash has been or will be excavated across the state and will result in the largest coal ash cleanup in America to date.

Statement from Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue:

With this settlement, Duke Energy has committed to fully excavating coal ash at the Rogers/Cliffside Energy Complex and moving it to a lined landfill where it will no longer pollute groundwater and the Broad River. This is the solution we’ve advocated for the last seven years, and it is a huge victory for our environment and for the front line communities most impacted by decades of coal ash pollution.

Statement from David Caldwell, Broad Riverkeeper:

Thanks should be given to the hundreds of local concerned citizens in Rutherford and Cleveland Counties, who showed up, stood up and spoke out at several public meetings. Together we were able to convince NCDEQ, our Department of Environmental Quality, and Duke Energy that moving all of the coal ash, a byproduct of 70 years of burning coal, to dry storage is the safest alternative to closing coal ash basins.

Read the full press release from SELC below.

For Release: January 2, 2020

Contact: SELC, Kathleen Sullivan, 919-945-7106 or ksullivan@selcnc.org

North Carolina Settlement Results in Largest Coal Ash Cleanup in America
Community Groups, N.C. DEQ and Duke Energy Reach Settlement to Clean Up Coal Ash at Six North Carolina Sites

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—The Southern Environmental Law Center today announced it reached a settlement with Duke Energy and the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality to clean up coal ash at six North Carolina sites on behalf of Appalachian Voices, Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, MountainTrue, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Waterkeeper Alliance, Sierra Club, Roanoke River Basin Association, Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse River Foundation/Sound Rivers, and N.C. State Conference of the NAACP. With this agreement, North Carolina will benefit from the largest coal ash cleanup in America to date.

Approximately 80 million tons of coal ash will be excavated from six Duke Energy coal ash sites: Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. At each of these sites, coal ash is stored in unlined, leaking pits near waterbodies. Prior settlements and court orders require cleanups and excavation of coal ash at the eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina for the excavation of 46 million tons of coal ash: Asheville, Riverbend, Dan River, Sutton, Weatherspoon, Cape Fear, Lee, and Buck. This agreement now puts in place a comprehensive cleanup plan for all coal ash lagoons at all 14 Duke Energy sites in North Carolina under which 126 million tons of ash has been or will be excavated across the state.

In April 2019, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered Duke Energy to clean up the remaining six coal ash storage sites in the state that were not yet slated to be cleaned up. Duke Energy appealed those orders, and the Southern Environmental Law Center intervened on behalf of community groups to support cleanup, alongside DEQ.
This agreement resolves Duke Energy’s pending appeals of DEQ’s April order, a state court enforcement proceeding brought by DEQ in which community groups represented by SELC are intervenors, and three federal court actions brought by SELC on behalf of the Roanoke River Basin Association, Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, N.C. State Conference of the NAACP, and Appalachian Voices.

Today’s settlement culminates efforts that began in 2012 when the Southern Environmental Law Center first went to court to seek cleanup of coal ash pollution on behalf of community groups in South Carolina and thereafter brought administrative and legal actions that sought coal ash cleanups in North Carolina. Now every utility in South Carolina is excavating its coal ash from every unlined lagoon in the state and cleanups are required and will be underway at every coal ash site in North Carolina. Coal ash has been, is being, and will be removed from coal ash pits owned by three utilities on rivers that flow through both states.

With the coal ash removal at Marshall and Allen in addition to prior commitments at other sites, approximately 44.5 million tons of coal ash has been and will be excavated from coal ash pits along the Catawba River in North and South Carolina. With the removals at Belews Creek, Mayo, and Roxboro, almost 40 million tons of ash in the Roanoke and Dan River Basins have been and are being moved to lined storage. Almost 17 million tons of coal ash will be removed at Roxboro and over 17 million tons of coal ash will be removed at Marshall while ash already in permitted landfills or structural fills will be subject to additional protective measures including stabilization actions and groundwater and surface water monitoring and remediation.
Over 8 million tons will be excavated at Cliffside on the Broad River.

“This agreement is the culmination of nine years of work by communities across North Carolina and puts in place the most extensive coal ash cleanup in the nation,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center which represents the community groups in court seeking coal ash cleanups in North Carolina. “With the agreements and court orders governing eight other coal ash sites, we now have in place a historic cleanup of coal ash lagoons to protect North Carolina’s clean water and families from coal ash pollution. North Carolina’s communities will be safer and North Carolina’s water will be cleaner than they have been in decades.”

Comments from the community groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center in various courts to seek cleanup of coal ash pollution at the six North Carolina sites follow.

Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices: “This agreement is a testament to the communities throughout North Carolina that have worked for years to protect their neighborhoods and clean water from coal ash pollution.”

Rev. Gregory Hairston of the Stokes County Branch of the NAACP: “We are thankful for the settlement and count it a major victory for our air, water and environmental justice in the state of North Carolina.”

Brandon Jones, Catawba Riverkeeper at the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation: “This settlement is a fantastic victory for the Catawba and all North Carolinians and a major step towards protecting water quality for current and future generations. This is one of, if not the largest coal ash cleanup in American history. We are proud to have been a part of this effort from the beginning.”

Julie Mayfield, co-director of MountainTrue: “With this settlement, Duke Energy has committed to fully excavating coal ash at the Rogers/Cliffside Energy Complex and moving it to a lined landfill where it will no longer pollute groundwater and the Broad River. This is the solution we’ve advocated for the last seven years, and it is a huge victory for our environment and for the front line communities most impacted by decades of coal ash pollution.”

Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney at Waterkeeper Alliance; “Duke Energy is doing the right thing and protecting all North Carolina communities and waterways from its toxic legacy. North Carolina Waterkeepers and their partners worked tirelessly to stop the contamination of the
state’s waterways by toxic coal ash; this monumental agreement is a testament to their years of work.”

Dave Rogers, deputy regional director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign: “This agreement is a victory for communities and represents the culmination of years of work across North Carolina to guarantee protections from toxic coal ash pollution for hundreds of families and children.”

Statement by Gene Addesso, Mike Pucci and Greg Goddard, leaders of the Roanoke River Basin Association: “Under this agreement, the Roanoke River and Dan River Basins will see one of the largest coal ash cleanups in the country, with millions of tons of coal ash being moved to lined storage at the Dan River, Belews Creek, Roxboro, and Mayo sites on the river system that flows through communities in North Carolina and Virginia.”

Reverend Dr. T. Anthony Spearman of the N.C. State Conference of the NAACP: “Coal ash pollution is an environmental justice issue, and this agreement will bring more justice to the communities around coal ash sites in North Carolina.”

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.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.

Dec. Vistas E-News

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On Jan. 15, Tell The NC Utilities Commission: No Rate Hikes For Dirty Energy!

Duke Energy is trying to raise our electric bills to pay for dirty energy. Again. Their new rate hike proposal lacks any direct investment in renewable energy and calls for customers to foot the bill to clean up coal ash. It would also be their fifth rate hike in ten years, and would increase residential electricity costs by another 6.7% – or about $97 more per year for the average electricity user.

Join MountainTrue members in Franklin on January 15 and in Morganton on January 16 to tell the NC Utilities Commission: Enough is enough. No rate hikes for more dirty energy. Learn more.

Calling Volunteers Who Like To Hike!

The draft Environmental Impact Study for the next forest management plan for the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests is due in February of 2020, and 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 Regional News

For Buncombe, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell and Yancey counties

We Protected 140 Ash Trees In 2019

Thanks to funding from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy‘s (ATC) License Plate Grants, MountainTrue and the ATC completed the third consecutive year of ash tree treatments on the Appalachian Trail. This year, we were able to protect more than 140 trees and three miles of trail from the emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) — an invasive pest that kills all untreated ash trees. In three years, ATC and MountainTrue have worked together to save more than 900 beautiful ash trees from EAB along more than 11 miles of trail. These are likely to be the most extensive areas of ash trees remaining in the Southern Blue Ridge after the onslaught of EAB passes.

High Country Regional News

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

Help Andy Fight Microplastics in the Watauga Basin

Plastics are everywhere, including the Watauga River. They break down into smaller bits of plastic that end up being eaten by fish and other aquatic life and can bioaccumulate up the food chain. Help our Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill as he launches our microplastic survey of the Watauga Basin this spring. We are looking for volunteers to help collect water samples. Sign up here.

Sign up for our 2020 Livestaking Days

Please join us to help plant tree cuttings that will grow into shrubs and trees and help keep stream and river banks from eroding. “Paddle and Plant” workdays will be held by MountainTrue at Valle Crucis Community Park on February 9, February 16, March 13, March 20.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Thanks To All Of Our Wonderful Volunteers!

We couldn’t do everything we do without our amazing volunteer force which helps us with water quality sampling, river cleanups, fighting invasive plants and pests, advocating on a range of issues, and much more. On December 11, we had the pleasure of gathering with many of our volunteers from MountainTrue’s Southern Region at Guidon Brewing Company in Hendersonville. We enjoyed beverages donated by the brewery, handed out some door prizes to a lucky few, and celebrated our accomplishments over the past year with some holiday cheer. Our sincerest gratitude goes out to all of you that make our work possible and successful, and happy holidays!

Poop Patrol Identifies Some Problem Bacteria Hot Spots In The Mud Creek Watershed

Throughout the summer, our Swim Guide bacteria monitoring team found high levels of E. coli at sites along Mud Creek. To track down the source of the pollution, we enlisted the help of the Hendersonville Rotary Club. Their volunteers took weekly samples at over 20 sites in the Mud Creek watershed around Hendersonville. In all, they collected more than 130 water samples, which allowed MountainTrue’s Water Quality team to isolate two major hot spots of pollution that we suspect are related to pockets of homes that are not connected to the municipal sewer and instead have septic systems that are likely failing. We are now working with the City of Hendersonville, Henderson County Health Department, and NC Department of Environmental Quality to further isolate the problems and implement solutions.

Western Regional News

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

Take A Look Back At Our 2019 Western Region Successes

Trained volunteers collect water samples from area waterways to help MountainTrue keep tabs on stream condition and suitability for recreation.

Effective environmental organizations tend to be very forward-focused in their work, but as we turn the page on 2019, we’d like to take a moment to look back on what we’ve been able to accomplish together over the past year. You’re hearing a lot about MountainTrue’s overall accomplishments through emails and mailings, particularly with regard to protecting our public lands. Here are a few of the MountainTrue West region-specific projects and accomplishments from 2019:

  • Monitored bacteria levels at several popular recreation areas on the Pigeon River weekly throughout the summer months and posted results on the Swim Guide website.
  • Advocated for stronger water quality protections associated with a dredging and development project in the headwaters of the Chattooga River Watershed at a public hearing in Cashiers, NC.
  • Worked with two partners, WATR (Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River) and Trout Unlimited, to come up to speed on sediment pollution violations from massive amounts of development in the Tuckasegee River Watershed. (Protecting this river in the face of continued development is a top priority for MountainTrue West in 2020.)
  • Advocated alongside several other partners for better Corridor K alternatives in the Cheoah River and Valley River watersheds, successfully defeating two particularly bad new road alignments that would’ve fragmented large sections of the National Forest and negatively impacted streams and special places in Graham and Cherokee counties.
  • Helped organize a landowner outreach event for the Southeastern Hellbender Conservation Initiative in the Little Tennessee River Watershed.
  • Supported a team of certified volunteers who monitored water quality, including the monthly monitoring of bacteria levels at 47 locations in the Hiwassee River Watershed. Also provided technical assistance to 17 landowners and completed a stream bank stabilization and buffer project along Davis Creek in Cherokee County.
  • Held the 9th Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup and worked with the City of Hiawassee, GA and Hamilton Gardens on projects to eradicate kudzu and other non-native invasive plants.
  • Monitored water chemistry weekly in Butternut Creek just upstream of its confluence with Lake Nottely following the City of Blairsville’s decision to begin treating landfill leachate on a contract basis. No negative change in water quality has been detected downstream of the wastewater treatment plant as a result of this decision.

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Jan 11: Give Your Christmas Trees A Second Life In Hendersonville
Recycle your Christmas trees, cards and wreaths and turn them into mulch for your garden and trees.

Jan 15 & 16: Duke Energy Rate Hike Hearings In Franklin And Morganton
Duke Energy is trying to raise our electric bills to pay for dirty energy. Again. Let your voice be heard at public hearings in Franklin and Morganton.

Jan. 18: Timber Sale Project Hike In Clay County
Join us for a hike to the part of Nantahala National Forest that will be impacted by the Buck Creek Timber Sale. Public Lands Biologist, Josh Kelly, will explain how timber sales work and how MountainTrue evaluates their impacts.

Feb. 1: Winter Tree ID Workshop At Cradle Of Forestry
Join MountainTrue and Carrie Blair of Carrie’s Tree School for a workshop on the basic techniques of tree identification.

Feb 7: Creation Care Retreat At Montreat
Designed with creation care volunteers and clergy in mind, spend the day learning from and with a theologian, a climate scientist, a forest biologist, local colleagues and pastoral innovators.

Paddle-N-Plant Workdays In Valle Crucis
Come hop in a boat and help us reduce erosion along our local rivers by planting tree-cuttings that grow into groundcover.
Feb. 9. workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-5/
Feb. 16. workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-6/
Mar. 13 workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-8/
Mar. 20 workday https://mountaintrue.org/event/hco-paddle-n-plant-workday-7/

Mar. 21 – Signs Of Spring Hike Into The Green River Gorge
Celebrate the arrival of spring with a moderate 6.8 mile out-and-back hike into the Green River Gorge. Guided by expert ecologist Bob Gale, we will search out the season’s first ephemeral wildflowers such as trillium, bloodroot, and toothwort.


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.

The fate of 1 million acres of our nation’s most important forest lands is in your hands.

The fate of 1 million acres of our nation’s most important forest lands is in your hands.

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Under the Trump Administration, the Forest Service has made a number of troubling policy proposals. By overhauling the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), they are making it harder for the public to protect our public lands. They’ve issued an executive order to increase timber harvest on national forests by one-third. They’ve proposed opening up vast swaths of rainforest to logging in Tongass National Forest. They’re pushing for oil and gas pipelines and open-pit mining — including a large copper sulfate mine that would pollute Minnesota’s beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The pattern is clear: time and again, this administration has put the interests of industry first regardless of the impact on our communities, our environment and our climate.

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests could be next on the cutting board.

The next 20-year forest management plan for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests will be released soon, and it could have a dramatic impact on the health of our public lands.

Will you protect our national forests? Our goal is to raise $30,000 before the end of the year. Whether it’s $10 or $1,000, your gift makes sure our team of experts has the resources to fight for a better forest management plan. Join the thousands of MountainTrue members and supporters in standing up for Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests.

Support MountainTrue’s Public Lands Team. With more than 50 years combined experience working for you, we fight to protect habitats that support vulnerable species, safeguard old-growth forests, and make sure you have wonderful outdoor spaces for biking, hiking, hunting, fishing and foraging.

MountainTrue’s Public Lands Field Biologist Josh Kelly documents the age of a 200-year-old tree as part of our objection to a timber sale.

Donate to MountainTrue today and protect places like Pisgah National Forest — because it’s the right thing to do now and for future generations. We can only do this with your support.

MountainTrue has a record of success when it comes to fighting for our forests.

In the 80s and early 90s, MountainTrue (then the Western North Carolina Alliance) collected more than 16,000 signatures opposing the practice of clearcutting — and the resulting petition was the length of three football fields. Through our collective action, we pressured the Forest Service to cut the maximum allowable harvest in half, stopped the practice of clearcutting in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, and put water quality protections and old-growth forest restoration in place.

Thirty years later, we need your support again to fight for a better management plan that balances the needs of all of us who love and value public lands. And if the Forest Service fails to do that, we will be here to fight back — just like we did in 1987.

Join MountainTrue and strengthen our collective voice. With your help we can:

  • be a voice for the wild and roadless parts of the forest,
  • protect existing old-growth forests,
  • educate and inform the public with professional analysis,
  • provide technical comments to the Forest Service, and
  • organize public participation in meetings and comment periods, making it difficult for the Forest Service to ignore the people who speak for the trees.

Thank you for standing with our beloved national forests. Remember, you can make a small donation that will have a big impact by signing up for monthly giving.

Members and supporters of the Western North Carolina Alliance (now MountainTrue) hold up a scroll of more than 16,000 petitions taped together outside the federal building in downtown Asheville.

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.

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

Uncategorized

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.