MT Raleigh: Delegation Committee Assignments + Cooper Names New DEQ Sec.

MT Raleigh: Delegation Committee Assignments + Cooper Names New DEQ Sec.

MT Raleigh: Delegation Committee Assignments + Cooper Names New DEQ Sec.

In the North Carolina General Assembly, every legislator’s vote counts the same.

But not all legislators are equal.

You don’t need to be a political scientist, for example, to know that in a Republican-controlled legislature, most GOP members are going to have more influence than their Democratic colleagues. But beyond party affiliation, seniority and committee assignments can tell you a lot about who can get what done in Raleigh.

So to help you keep track of WNC’s delegation, here’s a quick rundown on some of our region’s most senior members and the gavels they wield among the legislature’s several dozen legislative committees.

Dionne Delli-Gatti

But first – some good news. Last week Governor Roy Cooper announced that Dionne Delli-Gatti will replace Michael Regan as Secretary of the NC Department of Environmental Quality. Regan is now awaiting Senate approval of his appointment as Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Delli-Gatti’s selection is welcome news for those of us concerned about clean air and water. A seasoned environmental professional, she most recently served at the Environmental Defense Fund as the Director of Southeast Climate and Energy following six years at the Atlanta EPA Regional office as Congressional and Governmental Liaison. Her environmental experience includes government service at the Ohio EPA and the City of Dallas. Kudos to Gov. Cooper for selecting Delli-Gatti, whose appointment must be confirmed by the North Carolina Senate.

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The MountainTrue Raleigh Report covers environmental politics and policy, with a focus on the issues that affect Western North Carolina.

Now let’s take a look at who is doing what on the environment and other issues among WNC’s legislative delegation.

On the environment, the conversation about WNC’s delegation has to start with Sen. Chuck Edwards of Henderson County. Now in his third term, Edwards is the senior chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee that oversees all natural resources spending. He also co-chairs the committee that oversees most agriculture and environmental policy in North Carolina. Edwards is a proven leader and champion of several causes benefitting WNC’s environment, including being the force behind creating a new state park in Buncombe County and helping MountainTrue with several key clean water initiatives.

For depth and breadth of influence in the legislature, it would be hard to match Sen. Ralph Hise (Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford and Yancey counties). After five terms in office, Hise is one of three co-chairs of the Senate Appropriations Committee, giving him a say in virtually every part of the state’s $24 billion budget. Hise’s familiarity with health policy and spending also makes him a key voice on health and human services issues.  As chair of the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, he will play a central role in redrawing both legislative and Congressional districts this year.

If you have an interest in Western North Carolina public schools and universities, then get to know Senator Deanna Ballard (Alleghany, Ashe, Surry, Watauga and Wilkes counties). While just in her third term, Ballard is now the Senate’s key policymaker and appropriator on education – which easily accounts for well over half of the state’s annual spending.

With the departure of former Representative Chuck McGrady to retirement and former Rep. Josh Dobson – now North Carolina’s Labor Commissioner – WNC’s delegation in the state House lost a great deal of influence. The rest of the delegation’s lack of commensurate seniority means it will take a few years for the West to beef up its political muscle in the House. In the meantime, Rep. Tim Moffitt (Henderson County) helps lead the House ABC Committee – which oversees alcohol laws. Rep. Mike Clampitt (Haywood, Jackson and Swayne counties) chairs the House Federal Relations and American Indian Affairs Committee, and Rep. Jake Johnson (Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties) is the co-chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Information Technology.

Among Western North Carolina’s other legislators, members with assignments on important environmental committees include Wildlife Vice-Chair, Rep. Brian Turner (Buncombe County), and committee members Reps. Mike Clampitt, Karl Gillespie (Cherokee, Clay, Graham and Macon counties), John Ager (Buncombe County), Mark Pless (Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties) and Jake Johnson; Brian Turner and John Ager both also sit on important environmental and agriculture appropriations and policy committees; Rep. Clampitt is a member of the House Environmental and Agriculture Appropriations Committee; Sen. Julie Mayfield (Buncombe County) is a member of the Senate’s Environmental and Agriculture Appropriations Committee. Rep. Pickett is the vice-chair of the House Transportation Committee and Representatives Moffitt and Pless are members of the House Transportation Committee; Senator Julie Mayfield a member of the Senate Transportation Committee.

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.

February 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

February 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

February 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

WNC Loses an Environmental Champion: Remembering Norma Ivey

By Bob Gale, Ecologist & Public Lands Director of MountainTrue

MountainTrue and Western North Carolina lost a wonderful person and forest protection advocate on January 29. Norma Ivey served on the staff of MountainTrue (known then as the Western North Carolina Alliance) from 1996 to 2009, and upon retiring, she received the organization’s highest honor: the Esther Cunningham Award.

Norma was a champion of old-growth trees, having assisted with a 7-year study that located 78,000 acres of previously unknown old-growth forest in the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Later research increased this to about 100,000 acres.

In her time with MountainTrue, Norma served as Community Organizer working in our Asheville and Franklin offices. She assisted with a variety of issues, including timber sales of concern, relicensing of Western NC dams by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, clean air issues, and community greenways. Norma was also an artist and crafter who created beautiful handmade pottery. Though she had advanced Alzheimer’s disease, it was Covid-19 that ultimately took her life.

Norma will be greatly missed by MountainTrue and by so many others in these mountains that got the chance to meet her. We will share a tribute with more details about her work and life in our upcoming spring print newsletter.


A Moment in Black History: The Memphis Strike as a Precursor to the Environmental Justice Movement

The Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike is a little discussed moment in the final chapter of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, and a precursor to the development of the Environmental Justice movement. Almost a year after making his famous 1967 speech at Riverside Church where he proclaimed the need to declare “eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism,” and while he was in the midst of developing the Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. King travelled to Memphis. He came to Memphis to march in solidarity with Black sanitation workers who, in addition to suffering from low and inequitable pay, were forced to do dirtier and more dangerous work with greater health and safety risks than their white co-workers. As Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance told Grist in 2019. “You don’t get more environmental justice than that. All the environment really is is where you live, work, play, or pray.”

Dr. King returned to Memphis and delivered his “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech on April 3 calling on a Black economic boycott of white power structures, and was assassinated one day later as he stood outside his balcony at the Lorraine Hotel on April 4.


The Not-So-Micro Issue of Microplastics

While we see it everywhere, mass-produced plastic has only existed since the 1950’s. Since then, the amount of plastic created has increased from 1.5 million metric tons produced worldwide in 1950 to 359 million metric tons in 2018. Not only does plastic production create greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change, but it breaks down into tiny pieces called microplastics that harm wildlife, ecosystems and humans.

In our most recent blog post, our High Country Water Quality Administrator Hannah Woodburn explains that while personal change is important, our consumer choices alone are not enough to spark systemic change. Check out Hannah’s post to learn more about the history of plastic pollution, ongoing legislation to combat the issue and our sampling program to identify microplastics in WNC’s waters. Read more. 


Take Action: We Have Power in Numbers To Fight Duke’s Energy Plan

Duke Energy’s latest Integrated Resource Plan – the plan Duke is required to submit to state regulators showing how it will create energy over the next fifteen years – takes the company way off track for meeting any serious climate goals. Duke’s IRP outlines plans to keep burning coal for decades, build up to 13 new gas plants, and make customers pay $900 each for fossil fuels we’ll never even use.

Here’s the good news: MountainTrue is working with a coalition of climate and clean energy advocates all across North Carolina to fight Duke’s plans, and we think there is a real chance we can send them back to the drawing board to adopt a new plan that will meet climate goals. It’s the same power in numbers strategy we used to get state regulators to order a full cleanup of every Duke coal ash site in North Carolina two years ago.

What’s more, cities all over the state are now intervening in Duke’s plans to make sure they don’t keep us from meeting our local climate commitments.

Tell the NC Utilities Commission: Don’t let Duke wreck North Carolina’s climate. Send this IRP back to the drawing board.

Clean Water Auction Fundraiser Online This Year

Due to the ongoing pandemic, MountainTrue’s western regional office was unable to hold our annual fundraising gala and auction in person this year. Both events are happening online instead.

The auction is now open and runs through February 25 at 9 pm. We invite you to check out the wide variety of items up for bid, including guided outdoor adventures, beautiful artwork, restaurant gift certificates and more. All proceeds benefit our clean water work!

Note: Anyone can view the items, but in order to place a bid, you’ll need to create a simple account with 32auctions by providing your name, email address and creating a password. Credit card information is not required to place bids. Check out all our auction items.

Photo: “The Mountains are Calling”, donated by Class Act Glass in Young Harris, GA, is only one of the more than 50 items up for bid in the Clean Water Auction Fundraiser.

High Country Regional News

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

Algal Bloom in the Watauga River

During the month of January, we saw new algae growth along the Watauga River – an unusual occurrence for this time of year. Thank you to all of the anglers, guides and concerned community members that brought their algae sightings to our attention.

You might recall that last summer, we began a nutrient and chlorophyll study on Watauga Lake to monitor algal blooms, which form due to an excess of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. While not all algal blooms are toxic, the harmful ones release toxins that are linked to human illnesses and have even been shown to lead to death in dogs.

We reported the recent bloom to the NC Wildlife Commission and the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The newly formed Algal Bloom Response Team from the Division of Water Resources quickly responded and collected additional samples, and we are now awaiting results. This year the Watauga River had high levels of E. coli and nutrients, which could have contributed to the algae growth. We will continue to source track and monitor pollution levels in the Watauga River.


Macroplastics and Microplastics Roundup

Thank you to all our new volunteers who braved the cold to collect the first round of micro and macro plastic samples! Our volunteers collected a total of 318 pieces of trash in the last week of January. Our water samples are now being filtered in the lab, and microplastics have been identified in the Watauga River.

Want to learn more? The virtual training is on the MountainTrue University page of our website here.


Sign Up For Our Next Live Staking Opportunities!

Are you looking for a socially-distanced way to create immediate change in our community? Come plant live stakes with the Watatuga Riverkeeper!

Live staking workdays help to combat sediment erosion in our local waterways. Sediment is a major polluter in our river basin, clogging fish and aquatic habitats, increasing water temperatures, and transporting toxic substances. As these stakes grow into trees, they stabilize the banks of the Watauga river and reduce the amount of sediment entering the river, while also helping to fight climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide. Come plant with us! Sign up here.

To see the recent coverage of our live staking work days in the Watauga Democrat, click here.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Cleanups

To celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., MountainTrue staff joined the City of Hendersonville’s Environmental Sustainability Board to clean up Dr. MLK, Jr. Park on the grounds of the Henderson County Courthouse. There were also several member-led cleanups across the region, and we particularly enjoyed supporting the cleanup of an illegal dump site near the Green River where we pulled out a large chest freezer, gas grill, computer monitor, TV, tires and more!


Meetings with State Elected Officials Kick Off Legislative Advocacy

MountainTrue staff have been gearing up for the 2021 session of the NC General Assembly by refining our legislative priorities and meeting with state elected leaders across WNC. Locally, we’d like to thank Sen. Chuck Edwards, Rep. Tim Moffitt and Rep. Jake Johnson for taking the time to meet with us as the session began, as well as former Rep. Chuck McGrady (and Esther Cunningham Award recipient) for his ongoing advice and years of service. As the legislative session progresses we look forward to continuing those conversations, meeting with other elected leaders and building common ground for ways to protect and enhance our natural resources in WNC. For more details about MountainTrue’s legislative priorities and to sign up to receive the MT Raleigh Report, click here.

Western Regional News

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

Black History Month: Racial Equity and the Environment

George Washington Carver was an African American scientist and educator. Carver is famous for many inventions including a number of uses for the peanut.

During Black History Month in February, we are encouraged to learn more about the achievements of African-Americans and to recognize their central role in US history. It is also a time for celebrating the diversity of our communities, and examining the systems that perpetuate racial inequality in ways that may be difficult to see or understand on the surface. This past year has been a time of reckoning and challenge for many of us as some of those systems have been exposed.

As you may have read in an earlier e-newsletter, MountainTrue has been evolving toward a wider focus. Yes to protecting forests and rivers, advocating for more sustainable development and clean energy, but we are also thinking more broadly about how we can help foster communities where people are truly healthy. This means communities that are free from racism, and where there is equity in the social determinants of health: housing, transportation, education and jobs.

One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s teachings is “all this is simply to say that all life is interrelated.” His words serve as a reminder that we cannot isolate our work in silos or boxes. Racial justice is central to environmental justice, and the two cannot be separated. As we continue to strive for equity in our work, we remember the words of another great Black civil rights leader, the late US Congressman John Lewis: “It is our responsibility to leave this planet cleaner and greener. That must be our legacy.”

Read more about MountainTrue’s commitment to racial equity here.


Don’t Miss the Watershed Gala – One Week From Tomorrow!

Watch a video of our 2020 accomplishments, help honor this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner David Liden, hear and share stories of adventures (indoors and out!) in our region and celebrate clean water with us on Thursday, February 25 at 6 pm.

Using Zoom is very easy. You can even participate using a Smartphone. Register today!

Events & Volunteer Opportunities

Note: All attendees at in-person events are required to follow our COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Feb. 20, Mar. 6 & Mar. 20: Live Staking Workdays In The High Country
Fight sediment pollution, erosion and climate change with Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill by planting live stakes along streams and river banks.
Feb. 20 Workday in Sugar Grove.
Mar. 6 Workday in Sugar Grove.
Mar. 20 Workday in Boone.

Feb. 25, 6-7:30pm: Virtual Watershed Gala
The 13th Annual Watershed Gala will be held virtually via Zoom meeting this year. We hope you will join us for a delightful evening of laughter, fun and camaraderie … and to help honor this year’s Holman Water Quality Stewardship Award winner! Register here.

March 3, 11am-2pm: Island Park Non-Native Invasive Plant Volunteer Work Session
MountainTrue has joined forces with the Tuckasegee River Alliance to help eradicate non-native invasive plants at Island Park in Bryson City. Learn how to identify and control non-native invasive plants with MountainTrue staff while you help bring the native plants back to Island Park! Sign up here.

March 6, 12-4pm: Winter Tree ID Workshop Hike
Join MountainTrue’s very own Public Lands Field Biologist, Josh Kelly for our Winter Tree ID Workshop Hike at Big Laurel Creek Trail. This hike is open to all skill levels of aspiring tree identifiers! Sign up here.

March 11, 12-1pm: MountainTrue University: A History of Environmental Extraction and Activism in Appalachia
Our AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator, Grace Fuchs, completed her thesis work at Ohio University on the social and environmental impacts of fracking in Appalachian Ohio.

In her talk, Grace will define the cultural and geographic boundaries of Appalachia; look at the environmental impacts of the timber, coal, and fracking industries in the region; and present a historical analysis of Appalachian activists who have fought long and hard to protect their communities in the face of cultural and ecological destruction. Sign up here.

March 13, 7:30am-9:30am: Winter Bird Watch on Lake Chatuge
Get outside with us for our 15th annual Winter Bird Watch at Lake Chatuge! We typically see 18-25 different bird species on this trip, including small songbirds, larger birds of prey and wintering waterfowl. Sign up here.

March 20, 10am-4pm: Signs of Spring Hike on the Green River
This is a great late winter hike that offers continuous views of the Green River, from its quiet stretches to its most intense rapids. We’ll also pass through healthier eastern hemlocks stands, and are likely to spot early wildflowers and migrating warblers. Sign up 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.

UPM Raflatac Supports A Cleaner French Broad River With Donation To MountainTrue

UPM Raflatac Supports A Cleaner French Broad River With Donation To MountainTrue

UPM Raflatac Supports A Cleaner French Broad River With Donation To MountainTrue

MountainTrue is pleased to partner with label material manufacturer UPM Raflatac which is sponsoring MountainTrue’s Volunteer Water Information Network (VWIN) through the company’s Bifore Share and Care grant program. MountainTrue’s volunteer-powered VWIN program features members of the public collecting water samples from over 30 sites throughout the French Broad River Water Basin every month.

“UPM Raflatac is committed to labeling a smarter future beyond fossils and supporting a cleaner environment,” explains Tyler Matusevich, Sustainability Manager, Americas, UPM Raflatac. “As part of that commitment, we support local organizations doing great work through our Biofore Share and Care grant program. With hundreds of our employees and their families in Western North Carolina, the preservation of our local waterways is of utmost importance and we are pleased to do our part.”

“This support is crucial to the work of MountainTrue,” explains MountainTrue Southern Regional Director Gray Jernigan. “The VWIN program is the foundation of our work to protect the water quality of the French Broad River and other local watersheds.”

The laboratory results and data collected through the VWIN program are vital to water protection efforts in the area, help MountainTrue track down and stop pollution at the source, and inform the policy advocacy initiatives of MountainTrue’s I Love Rivers campaign (

“We’re grateful to have a company like UPM Raflatac as part of our community,” says Gray, “Their commitment to the planet and generous support helps MountainTrue and our members continue to fight for responsible water use and clean waterways for future generations in Western North Carolina.”

UPM Raflatac develops innovative and sustainable labeling solutions that help businesses move beyond fossil fuels. As one of the world’s leading producers of self-adhesive label materials, it maintains a global network of factories, distribution terminals and sales offices, and operates two factories in Henderson County, North Carolina employing approximately 350 people.

MountainTrue’s VWIN program is administered by its Hendersonville-based Southern Regional Office. The water samples collected by our volunteers are analyzed by a state certified lab for various chemical and physical parameters (ammonia-nitrogen, nitrate/nitrite-nitrogen, orthophosphate, turbidity, total suspended solids, conductivity, alkalinity, and pH).

About MountainTrue
MountainTrue is a non-profit environmental advocacy organization that champions resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in Western North Carolina. MountainTrue envisions thriving communities in our mountain region that are connected to and help sustain both each other and our natural environment. To achieve this, MountainTrue fosters and empowers residents throughout the region to engage in community planning, policy and project advocacy, and on-the-ground projects.

About UPM Raflatac
UPM Raflatac is labeling a smarter future beyond fossils by developing innovative and sustainable labeling solutions. As one of the world’s leading producers of self-adhesive label materials, they supply high-quality paper and film label stock for consumer product and industrial labeling through a global network of factories, distribution terminals and sales offices.

UPM Raflatac works with brands and businesses by providing labeling solutions that support creative product packaging design, meet business goals and reach toward sustainability targets.

UPM Raflatac is part of the Finland-based UPM corporation – one of the biggest forest industry companies in the world. Two of the company’s three U.S. factories are in Henderson County in Mills River and Fletcher. Locally, they employ approximately 350 people.

To download photos, please click here:

Media Contact: 
Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director
E: | C: 828-423-0578

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.

Water Quality Intern (Boone Office)

Water Quality Intern (Boone Office)

The Water Quality Intern is responsible for aiding the High Country Water Quality Administrator (HCWQA) with managing multiple water quality monitoring programs. This position would require interactions with volunteers on many levels (recruiting, training, organizing). This position requires attention to detail and learning how to apply hard science skills to the needs of the community. 

This internship will run from May to August. 

Specific responsibilities include but are not limited to:

  • Assist making maps (using GIS if applicable), 
  • Attend training on lab equipment used for analyzing water samples,
  • Research state and federal water quality regulations
  • Collaborate with community partners to conduct public education events
  • Support event planning and attend events like live staking and river snorkeling, 
  • Support the HCWQA with various other projects and tasks.


  • Related education background preferred: environmental sciences/studies, natural resource management, sustainability/technology, geography and planning, etc.
  • Experience working with or managing volunteers of various demographics
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Experience with Microsoft Office, Google suite, Facebook, and GIS
  • Good time management skills and ability to prioritize multiple tasks

General Requirements/Information:

  • Need to provide own transportation (personal vehicle preferred)
  • Ability to meet physical demands of paddling, hiking and outdoor work (must be able to swim)
  • Most of the internship will be teleservice, but will require in person meetings for training and sampling

To apply, submit resume and cover letter to Andy Hill at

Community Outreach and Water Quality Intern – Summer 2021

Community Outreach and Water Quality Intern – Summer 2021

We are hiring an intern for the summer of 2021 who will participate in the 8-week Non Profit Internship Program (NPIP) sponsored by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. To learn more about this program, click here. This position will be split evenly between supporting general community outreach efforts and helping our French Broad Riverkeeper team. For the water quality portion of the position, this intern will help facilitate our summer water quality programs, both aimed at tracking sources of bacteria pollution in the river. Our intent with these programs is twofold— 1). to alert the public of high E. coli levels to ensure safe water for safe recreation, and 2) pinpointing sewer/septic leaks and agricultural runoff problems in order to get them fixed. This position will be coordinating water sampling volunteers, taking water samples, performing lab and field work, managing data, conducting research, and distributing and disseminating results to the public. 

When not working with our water quality team, this position will support our Community Engagement Director with outreach events, educational programs and/or advocacy campaigns. This work could include promoting events on social media, helping coordinate volunteer work days, preparing materials for educational displays, managing information in our advocacy database, and other tasks that help us communicate with the public about the environmental threats our region faces and our plans to respond to those threats.

We are looking for someone:

  • with a positive attitude,
  • who is comfortable with a changing schedule as needed per weather and other factors.
  • attention to detail,
  • eager to learn,
  • skilled in communications,
  • ideally with experience writing press releases or other written pieces for the public to read,
  • ideally some background in water quality monitoring, but not required.

Eligible students must be:

  • A rising sophomore, junior, or senior enrolled full-time in a four-year North Carolina college or university; OR
  • A rising sophomore, junior or senior North Carolina resident enrolled full-time in a four-year accredited college outside the state; AND
  • Pell grant-eligible in the academic year in which they apply for NPIP. As a part of the application process, students will be asked to upload their Student Aid Report verifying their Pell grant eligibility. Students can access this document through their FAFSA login. Click here for further directions. Students ineligible for a Pell grant due to documentation issues or criminal conviction may be eligible and should contact Maya Reynolds at

Students of color are encouraged to apply.

Application Deadline is February 22, 2021. A $3,200 stipend will be provided. Click HERE to submit an application and select MountainTrue from the list of participating non profit organizations. If you have questions about the position, please contact Susan Bean at

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Stop The Bluffs At River Bend

Help fight a planned mega-development that would be built on 92 acres of intact forest directly next to Richmond Hill Park, increase traffic, and pollute the French Broad River.

A Florida developer is planning to build 1,545 luxury residential condo units, a 250-room hotel, a 59,000-square-foot office space, and 30 1,000 square-foot buildings in Woodfin adjacent to Richmond Hill Park and on the banks of the French Broad River.

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



  • Attend the February 9 Asheville City Council Meeting asking them to join the fight against this development. The City owns Richmond Hill Park, and the roads that would be impacted by the development are in the City. The City needs to get involved to protect its interests and the interests of its residents.
    Meeting details here.
  • Attend the February 15 Community Meeting with the developers. Zoom details coming soon.
  • Attend the February 16 Woodfin Town Commission public meeting and voice your opposition.
    Meeting info will be posted here.
    Tell them that:


    • no conditional use permits should be issued for the Riverbend development until we can have safe meetings that all members of the community, regardless of internet access, can attend.
    • They should not approve any annexations or new developments until the Town has completed its ongoing review and revision of its development rules.
    • They should allow public input on the review of development ordinances to make sure the revisions meet the needs of the community.
  • Send a message to Asheville City Council asking them to join the fight against this development. The City owns Richmond Hill Park, and the roads that would be impacted by the development are in the City. Asheville City Council needs to get involved to protect our environment and the interests of our residents.
  • Send a message to Woodfin Town Commissioners asking them to oppose the rezoning of this property as Multi-use High Density.
  • Donate to Richmond Hill River & Rescue to help cover the legal fees and expert analysis needed to fight this development.


The proposal: Strategic Real Investment Partners LLC, a Tampa, Florida-based developer has submitted plans to construct 1,545 luxury residential condo units, a 250-room hotel, a 59,000-square-foot office space, and 30 1,000 square-foot buildings in Woodfin adjacent to Richmond Hill Park and on the banks of the French Broad River.

A massive luxury housing project like this will only make our region even less affordable. Studies show that building new luxury housing pushes up rents in surrounding neighborhoods and increases burdens on lower-income households.

Traffic will increase dramatically, affecting safety and planned multimodal improvements. The developer’s own traffic engineers estimate this development will generate well over 3,000 trips a day. These cars would use narrow, winding residential streets and Riverside Drive, and a proposed new bridge over the French Broad River.

The proposed new bridge could harm sensitive aquatic habitats. The plan proposes a new bridge over the French Broad River that could negatively impact two streams, as well as a wetland on the west side of the river.

The project could endanger rare salamander species. Neighboring Richmond Hill Park is home to two species designated by North Carolina as of “Special Concern” — the Mole Salamander and the Southern Zigzag Salamander. This property contains similar habitat so these salamanders could be present there as well. We are unaware of any studies or wildlife inventories done in the project area.

The development will pollute the French Broad River. Removing trees and ground cover, grading steep slopes, and paving roads and parking lots will lead to polluted stormwater runoff into the French Broad River.

Increased storm water runoff would endanger river recreation and public health. The project would be just upstream from a proposed $18 million whitewater wave and recreation park — a significant public investment.

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