Thank You for Supporting the Work of MountainTrue

It’s hard to believe that it’s already nearly the new year. Looking back over the past twelve months, it’s been a remarkable year full of great times on the river, beautiful hikes through the woods, and significant environmental victories. None of which would have been possible without your participation, support, and passion for the unique place we call home.

This year we worked with local community leaders to defeat a proposed asphalt plant that would have polluted neighborhoods of East Flat Rock and the headwaters of the Green River. Through our involvement in the WaysSouth coalition, we won a better plan for the Corridor K highway project that protects the Snowbird Mountains and the Appalachian Trail and provides a new forested land bridge for wildlife. In Asheville, we secured more green infrastructure and better urban design by ensuring that the Bowen Bridge section of the I-26 expansion project better connects West Asheville to Downtown with pedestrian and bike pathways. Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill accomplished a longtime conservation goal by working in partnership with American Rivers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others to remove the Ward Mill Dam, reconnect 35 miles of the Watauga River, and restore native aquatic habitats. Lastly, French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson conducted groundbreaking research identifying the sources of bacteria pollution with the first eDNA study of the French Broad River.

Thank You for Supporting the Work of MountainTrue

It’s hard to believe that it’s already nearly the new year. Looking back over the past twelve months, it’s been a remarkable year full of great times on the river, beautiful hikes through the woods, and significant environmental victories. None of which would have been possible without your participation, support, and passion for the unique place we call home.

This year we worked with local community leaders to defeat a proposed asphalt plant that would have polluted neighborhoods of East Flat Rock and the headwaters of the Green River. Through our involvement in the WaysSouth coalition, we won a better plan for the Corridor K highway project that protects the Snowbird Mountains and the Appalachian Trail and provides a new forested land bridge for wildlife. In Asheville, we secured more green infrastructure and better urban design by ensuring that the Bowen Bridge section of the I-26 expansion project better connects West Asheville to Downtown with pedestrian and bike pathways. Watauga Riverkeeper Andy Hill accomplished a longtime conservation goal by working in partnership with American Rivers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others to remove the Ward Mill Dam, reconnect 35 miles of the Watauga River, and restore native aquatic habitats. Lastly, French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson conducted groundbreaking research identifying the sources of bacteria pollution with the first eDNA study of the French Broad River.

Partnering with Communities to Stop an Asphalt Plant

“Our partnership with MountainTrue took us from hopelessness to hopefulness.” – Shannon Nicholson, Friends of East Flat Rock

MountainTrue and Friends of East Flat Rock teamed up to block a proposed asphalt plant’s application for rezoning near a surrounding residential area and near the Green River Game Lands. This grassroots effort forced the developer to withdraw his application not once but twice. Beyond rezoning, we documented the developer polluting nearby Laurel Creek — resulting in a Notice of Violation against SE Asphalt. Your support allows us to oppose future rezoning attempts and to continue to monitor for environmental violations.

Working in Coalition to Protect the Snow Bird Mountains

“We hope we’ve set a better example for the region on how you can build better highways and improve the safety for wildlife and automobile traffic.”
– Melanie Mayes, WaysSouth Board Chair

Protecting Stecoah Gap and the Snow Bird Mountains took nearly 10 years, but the results were well worth it. A proposed road would have cut through pristine wildlife habitat, the Appalachian Trail, and Cherokee historic sites. Due to the efforts of MountainTrue and the WaysSouth coalition, no new roads will be built. Instead, the existing Corridor K will be improved for better traffic flow and response times for fire trucks, ambulances, and police. To enhance this area for hikers and wildlife, the coalition successfully proposed a forested land bridge that would serve as a wildlife and Appalachian Trail crossing. Protecting our mountain region means staying vigilant year after year. That’s why we need your support. 

Removing Dams and Reconnecting Aquatic Habitats

“Thanks to this dam removal, we celebrate a healthy, free-flowing Watauga River. Free-flowing rivers are the lifeblood of thriving communities, healthy ecosystems, and clean water for people and nature.”
  Erin McCombs, American Rivers’ Southeast Conservation Director

The Ward Mill Dam removal was a three-year effort but well worth the wait. Working in partnership with American Rivers, Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development, Watauga County Soil and Water Conservation District, and U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, this $1.2 million project reconnected 35 miles of aquatic habitat in the main stem of the Watauga River and 140 miles of streams across the watershed. Now, native fish such as the tangerine darter and threatened salamanders like the hellbender are reunited and will benefit from an improved cold-water habitat.

Making Advancements in Pollution Monitoring

“What better way to get information out to the public at large? MountainTrue is trying to find the source of a problem. Not blowing a whistle and walking away. I really like the holistic nature of what you do.”
– Ben Gainey, MountainTrue Member

In 2021, MountainTrue made dramatic advancements in the sophistication of our clean waters program. We conducted our first eDNA study and drone-assisted heat source tracking — which showed that agricultural waste is the highest contributor of E. coli in the French Broad River. We launched our plastics study in three regions, documenting that microplastics are now a major issue across our mountains. The Western Regional Office celebrated their first year participating in SwimGuide bacteria monitoring — giving the public weekly water quality results for popular recreation areas from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekends. With these advances, supported by members like you, we can better advocate for the changes needed to tackle pollution at its sources.

Fighting for Healthier Communities through Better Planning

“The victory of alternative B is worth crowing about. It is vastly superior to everything that went before it.”David Nutter, Volunteer Planner with the Asheville Design Center (a program of MountainTrue)

MountainTrue rallied the community and empowered Asheville City Council to push back against alternatives to the I26 Connector that would negatively impact community members. We successfully convinced NC Department of Transportation to eliminate one lane of traffic on each side of the Bowen Bridge and create pedestrian and bike pathways connecting Downtown to West Asheville. This new design offers a level of connectivity not yet seen in Asheville. Supporting MountainTrue’s work means supporting projects that can dramatically improve quality of life for future generations. 

These are just the highlights.  These accomplishments are the results of sustained, multi-year campaigns. Most were achieved by partnering with local communities or with broader coalitions. Others relied on our ability to leverage scientific know-how to drive our advocacy. These are our strengths: collaboration, technical expertise, and the staying power to see campaigns through until we win.

Next year will be our 40th anniversary, and we’re proud of our long list of institutional accomplishments. However, we’re also humbled because none of this would be possible without the generous contribution of our members, the vigilance of our advocates, and the enthusiasm of our supporters.

Please consider a donation today.  Your ongoing support gives us hope and the capacity to do good. With you at our side, we’ll continue the fight into 2022 and beyond.

Sincerely,

The MountainTrue Team

 

Front row (left to right): David Caldwell, Broad Riverkeeper; Mara Chamlee, SRO Water Quality Administrator, Amy Finkler, Development and Operations Coordinator; Anna Alsobrook, French Broad Watershed Outreach Coordinator; Susan Bean, Engagement Director; Sarah Ogletree, Creation Care Alliance Director; Callie Moore, Western Regional Director.

Second row: Ellianna McLaughlin, Forest Keeper Coordinator; Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper; Tony Ward, Western Regional Program Coordinator; Hannah Woodburn, High Country Outreach Coordinator; Katie Breckheimer, Interim Southern Regional Director; Bob Wagner, Co-Director.

Third row: Josh Kelly, Public Lands Field Biologist; Andy Hill, High Country Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper; Adam Bowers, Development Director; Chris Joyell, Healthy Communities Director; Bob Gale, Public Lands Director; Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director and Green Riverkeeper; Savannah Lytle, Outings and Education Coordinator; 

Maddy Watson, Communications Associate.

Not pictured: Julie Mayfield, Co-Director; Karim Olaechea, Communications Director. 

 

These are just the highlights.  These accomplishments are the results of sustained, multi-year campaigns. Most were achieved by partnering with local communities or with broader coalitions. Others relied on our ability to leverage scientific know-how to drive our advocacy. These are our strengths: collaboration, technical expertise, and the staying power to see campaigns through until we win.

Next year will be our 40th anniversary, and we’re proud of our long list of institutional accomplishments. However, we’re also humbled because none of this would be possible without the generous contribution of our members, the vigilance of our advocates, and the enthusiasm of our supporters.

Please consider a donation today.  Your ongoing support gives us hope and the capacity to do good. With you at our side, we’ll continue the fight into 2022 and beyond.

Sincerely,

The MountainTrue Team

 

Front row (left to right): David Caldwell, Broad Riverkeeper; Mara Chamlee, SRO Water Quality Administrator, Amy Finkler, Development and Operations Coordinator; Anna Alsobrook, French Broad Watershed Outreach Coordinator; Susan Bean, Engagement Director; Sarah Ogletree, Creation Care Alliance Director; Callie Moore, Western Regional Director.

Second row: Ellianna McLaughlin, Forest Keeper Coordinator; Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper; Tony Ward, Western Regional Program Coordinator; Hannah Woodburn, High Country Outreach Coordinator; Katie Breckheimer, Interim Southern Regional Director; Bob Wagner, Co-Director.

Third row: Josh Kelly, Public Lands Field Biologist; Andy Hill, High Country Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper; Adam Bowers, Development Director; Chris Joyell, Healthy Communities Director; Bob Gale, Public Lands Director; Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director and Green Riverkeeper; Savannah Lytle, Outings and Education Coordinator; Maddy Watson, Communications Associate.

Not pictured: Julie Mayfield, Co-Director; Karim Olaechea, Communications Director.