The Emerald Ash Borer – A Novel Threat

The Emerald Ash Borer – A Novel Threat

The emerald ash borer – the voracious metallic-green beetle you see in the photo above – is quickly eating its way across North America, killing our ash forests along the way.

The pest came across the ocean from Asia, transported in wooden packing materials. While many species in our forests were foreign to the borer, our ash trees provided a taste of home. The adults quickly began to feed on the leaves of these trees and lay their eggs between layers of bark to protect them. Back in Asia, parasitic wasps would occasionally prey on their larvae, but there are no wasps that hunt them here in North America. Given the abundant food source and lack of predators, the insect thrived.

The emerald ash borer is now eating its way through Pisgah National Forest, so MountainTrue and The Pisgah Conservancy have teamed up on a project to treat and save 100 ash trees this spring … before it’s too late. Find out more and how you can lend a hand.

These beetles are a half-inch long and have a metallic green color. They were first discovered in the United States in 2002, and since then, they have killed hundreds of thousands of ash trees and threaten millions more. The damage they can cause in just a few years has alarmed scientists and land managers.

Save Pisgah's Ashes

Help us reach our goal of saving 100 ash trees in Pisgah National Forest before it’s too late.

When the larvae hatch under the bark of an ash tree, they feed on important vascular tissue, creating swirling tunnels called galleries. Eventually, the tree becomes unable to transport nutrients and water from roots to branches, and it dies. Once the trees in one area have been killed, the insect moves on to new territory.

Ash borers can only fly a few miles each year, but they often hitch rides on firewood or other products. This has allowed them to spread more quickly despite the various quarantines and restrictions that are in place around moving wood products across state and county borders. The Emerald Ash Borer was first found on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountain National Park in 2013, and is now found throughout North Carolina – its spread having been assisted by people moving firewood. 

When the Ash Borer has attacked a tree, you may find D-shaped holes in the bark made when the matured larvae exit the tree. Unfortunately, by the time these holes are visible, the tree is usually too damaged to be saved. Instead, we look for signs of early damage, such as dying branches, trees that are losing leaves early in the year and other signs of poor health that are indicators of an infestation.

By treating them early, we can protect them throughout the infestation period, approximately 5-7 years. Once the beetle has exhausted its supply of untreated food, it moves on. Our plan is to then use the seeds of the trees that we have treated to reestablish our native ash tree stands for the enjoyment of future generations.

Learn more and help MountainTrue and The Pisgah Conservancy defend our ash trees against the emerald ash borer.

If you have observed signs of the emerald ash borer, please send a location and description of the tree(s) to newpest@ncagr.gov or your local county ranger for verification. For more information, visit the NC Forest Service FAQ page at: https://www.ncforestservice.gov/forest_health/fh_eabfaq.htm


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.

Public Input Session on Cliffside Coal Ash Closure Options

On January 22, the NC Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) will host an information session and receive public input about coal ash pond closure options for Duke’s Cliffside plant. The input they receive at this meeting and through public comments will help decide whether NCDEQ enforces a full cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash or allows them to leave it “capped in place” at the site.

What’s Happening With Coal Ash at Cliffside?

Duke Energy’s coal ash pits at its James E. Rogers Energy Complex  more commonly known as the Cliffside Steam Station  store millions of tons of coal ash waste in a pit that extends approximately 80 feet deep into the groundwater table in violation of federal rules. Located in Cliffside, N.C. on the border of Cleveland and Rutherford counties, this waste is seeping into the Broad River, and polluting the groundwater with toxic heavy metals like arsenic, mercury and lead.

In December 2018, Duke acknowledged another violation of federal rules intended to protect people from coal ash contamination  surpassing the federal groundwater standards for arsenic and cobalt. This is one of many legal violations at Cliffside related to coal ash storage, and Duke’s noncompliance means seepages around the impoundment are getting into wetlands and streams, and ultimately the Broad River.

What’s “Cap In Place”?

Duke Energy wants to leave its coal ash right where it is – in massive unlined pits seeping into the groundwater and the Broad River, and polluting the groundwater with toxic heavy metals. “Cap in place” simply means that the coal ash would be covered up but would remain in the groundwater table, causing permanent pollution of groundwater and migration of pollutants to surface water and the Broad River. To comply with the law and protect water quality, Duke must excavate the coal ash now.

Duke Energy is already required to remove its coal ash at eight other sites in North Carolina and all of its sites in South Carolina –Cliffside’s families and community deserve the same protections. NCDEQ needs to hear us loud and clear: We need cleanup, not cover-up!

What Can I Do?

1. Come to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s public information session on Jan. 22 in Forest City to call for cleanup, not cover-up, of Cliffside’s coal ash. Find the details for the event here.

2. Take action here to tell NCDEQ that Duke’s coal ash should be moved out of the groundwater, away from the Broad River, and into the lined landfill on their property.


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.

Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter

Call For Volunteers For Our Live Staking Days This Winter

Over the next few months, our Riverkeepers are teaming up with volunteers to plant “live stakes” along rivers in our region. We’re calling for potential volunteers like you to join us for a live staking day to help make this project a success.

What exactly is a live stake?

A live stake is a cutting from a tree species like silky dogwood, black willow, or elderberry that can be planted along riverbanks. The live stake then grows into a tree that reduces sediment erosion. Some of our supporters are surprised to learn that sediment is one of the worst polluters of our rivers, but it’s true sediment clogs aquatic habitats, increases water temperatures (which is bad news for trout and many other species) and transports toxic substances. Live staking also increases the density of the riparian buffer, which is the vegetated area surrounding a waterway that helps provide shade and filter out substances that normally enter the river from runoff. And since we’ve been planting trees along the rivers for the past few years, we can now take cuttings from those same trees that were live stakes only a few years ago. It’s a cost-effective, natural way to improve water quality and aquatic habitats.  

We have our live staking days, which we also call Paddle-n-Plant days, from January to March because live stakes can only be planted while the plants are still dormant. When the spring comes, the stakes’ nodes that were planted underground will sprout roots, helping to hold the riverbank in place.

Help Grow Our Impact

MountainTrue volunteers and our Riverkeepers have planted thousands of trees through our live staking days, and this year our Riverkeepers have set their sights on ways to increase their impact. Watershed Outreach Coordinator Anna Alsobrook’s goal this year is to more accurately determine the survival rate of the live stakes on the French Broad River. By spray-painting the tips of the stakes, she’ll be able to see them more easily from the river during follow up. In the High Country, Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill hopes to plant 3,000 stakes by March.

We need your help to make our live staking days a success. It will make a huge difference for the rivers if you sign up for a live staking day here, or donate to MountainTrue to make these efforts possible here.


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.

Help Keep Our Public Lands Clean During the Shutdown

Help Keep Our Public Lands Clean During the Shutdown

In response to the government shutdown, MountainTrue is encouraging volunteers to help monitor and maintain clean facilities and empty trash bins in our region’s parks and forests. Here is a list of places likely to need volunteer cleanup help:

Pisgah National Forest

  • Bent Creek
  • Davidson River Corridor
  • Sunburst
  • North Mills River
  • South Toe River Corridor
  • Roan Mountain at Carvers Gap
  • Murray Branch Rec Area
  • Max Patch
  • Wilson Creek Corridor
  • Kistler Hwy Corridor
  • Curtis Creek

Nantahala National Forest

  • Picnic Areas and Boat Launches on the Nantahala River
  • Standing Indian
  • Tsali Campground
  • Jackrabbit Campground
  • White Sides Mountain
  • White Water Falls
  • Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest

Smoky Mountains National Park
(no bathrooms are open in the park except at Newfound Gap and Cade Cove which are currently being maintained, though that could change at any tme)

  • All Major Access Points – esp. Hwy 441 on the Cherokee side and around the Oconaluftee Visitor Center
  • Deep Creek
  • Oconaluftee
  • Smokemont
  • Cataloochee
  • Big Creek
  • Cosby

Please note the weather forecast for the weekend. Roads may be closed by law enforcement due to icy conditions, but the road closure information system is not being updated during the shutdown.

Contact Susan Bean at 828-258-8737 x216 or at susan@mountaintrue.org with status updates or questions.


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.

Happy New Years! We’ve got big plans for 2019

Happy New Years! We’ve got big plans for 2019

A big thank you to everyone who has donated to MountainTrue in 2018. If you haven’t given yet, will you consider making a year-end gift to support the work of MountainTrue? MountainTrue is a membership organization and we depend on the support and generosity of supporters like you. Click here to contribute today!

Together, we have achieved a legacy of success by putting an end to the practice of clearcutting in Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, helping pass the Clean Smokestacks Act to reduce air pollution from power plants, and securing the retirement of Asheville’s coal-fired power plant.

Make a gift today to help us continue and expand our work in 2019. Together, we will:

  • monitor timber sales on public lands and advocate for a management plan for the Pisgah-Nantahala national forests that protects our special areas,
  • push our region toward a renewable energy future by pushing Duke Energy and local governments to invest in more renewable energy infrastructure and energy efficiency programs,
  • test for water pollution and clean up our rivers,
  • restore native habitats by eradicating non-native invasive plant species,
    help our cities and towns become more climate resilient by embracing better land-use planning, and
  • advocate for better public policy at the local and county level as well as in Raleigh.

Help us to protect our forests, clean up our rivers, plan vibrant and livable communities, and advocate for a sound and sustainable future for all residents of WNC. Support MountainTrue today.


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.

A Message From Climate Scientist Deke Arndt

A Message From Climate Scientist Deke Arndt

Dear Supporter,

On the tails of Hurricane Florence and one of the warmest, wettest years on record, I wanted to address my fellow members and supporters of MountainTrue and talk about the great challenges ahead. My name is Deke Arndt. I’m an Asheville-based climate scientist and a MountainTrue board director.

This fall, as study after study shows the consequences of a warming planet are accelerating, the United Nations released an alarming new report that confirms that time is running out to hold warming to manageable levels, and that the damage will be irreversible if we don’t act quickly and decisively. As Debra Roberts, one of the report’s editors, put it, “The next few years are probably the most important in our history.”

Meeting that challenge will require global cooperation and national leadership, but we also need to take action at the local level and as individuals. That’s why I’m upping my involvement in and support of MountainTrue, and I hope you will too. Volunteer, get involved, take action in our advocacy campaigns and help us grow our impact by making a contribution to MountainTrue.

MountainTrue’s members and supporters have built a legacy of climate action to be proud of. Together, we stopped timber companies from clearcutting in Pisgah and Nantahala national forests, protecting these important natural carbon sinks. You secured the closure of Asheville’s coal-fired power plant and pressured Duke Energy to invest more in energy efficiency, solar, and other renewable technologies. You won better public transit and transportation infrastructure that includes bike lanes, sidewalks, and greenways to reduce the number of fossil-fuel burning cars on our roads.

Help grow these programs to increase our impact. Join me by making a contribution to MountainTrue.

Make no mistake. Climate change is transforming our entire planet and will touch every one of us. At current emission levels, Western North Carolina is expected to be 4°F to 5°F warmer in 2050 than it was in 2000. When it’s wet, we can expect it to get wetter. This means more flooding and landslides, and more sediment in our waterways – reducing our water quality. On the other hand, dry spells, and droughts will be longer and hotter, increasing the threat of wildfires.

Climate change will also cause irreversible harm to our region’s diverse ecosystems. Higher temperatures push species uphill, from lower elevations toward cooler climates. The ones who make their homes in the spruce and fir forests at the tops of our highest mountains – like the northern saw-whet owl, northern flying squirrel, and the spruce fir moss spider – will either have to move to northern climates or will go extinct. Invasive plant species like Japanese stiltgrass, multiflora rose, and sweet autumn clematis are thriving in warming climates and outcompeting native plants. Animals evolved to adapt to local food sources, and the berries of non-native invasive plants do not provide the nutrition they need to survive. Warming waters also threaten our aquatic species – including trout.

Please join me by supporting MountainTrue. Make a donation today and help us ramp up our efforts to combat and mitigate climate change. With your help we can:

  • Protect our region’s carbon sinks by fighting for a forest management plan that protects our old-growth forests and our most special places from logging and overuse by extractive industries.
    Protect fauna, flora and native habitats by eradicating the invasive species that are benefiting from climate change.
  • Reduce our region’s carbon footprint by pushing local governments, Duke Energy, residents and businesses to invest in more energy efficiency, solar power, and renewable energy. Help us replicate the groundbreaking Blue Horizons Project throughout our region.
  • Build climate resilient communities by championing greenways, bike lanes, better public transit, and policies for growth that are climate smart.
  • Mobilize religious organizations to combat climate change by spreading the gospel of caring for God’s creation, and helping area faith communities upgrade their facilities to reduce their energy bills and carbon footprints.

MountainTrue’s ambitious and innovative campaigns are a great way for Western North Carolinians to do our part to combat climate change. Please help us rise to this historic challenge by making a donation today.

Sincerely,

 

 

Deke Arndt
Climate Scientist
MountainTrue Board Director
MountainTrue Member

P.S. To learn about how you can get involved, volunteer opportunities and our latest campaigns, visit mountaintrue.org. Or make a donation online at mountaintrue.org

Owl Photo Credit: Kent McFarland. https://flic.kr/p/6yk2fG


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.