October 2021 E-Vistas Newsletter

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What Kinds of Events and Outings Do You Want?

As we plan for the fall and winter of 2021-2022, we want to know your comfort level for different types of events at this point in the pandemic. How comfortable are you with indoor events? How about walking tours or workdays that take place outside? Want to go on a guided hike with us? Help inform our future events, fill out our Fall/Winter Event Survey.

‘Energy Solutions’ Bill Sets North Carolina on Path to Carbon Neutrality by 2050

On Wednesday, October 13, Governor Roy Cooper signed a bill called “Energy Solution for North Carolina” or HB 951. We commend Governor Cooper and Senator Berger for coming up with a laudable bipartisan compromise that sets aggressive clean energy goals and maintains the authority of the Utilities Commission to regulate the energy industry. The bill isn’t perfect, but, on balance, we believe HB 951 does far more good than bad. Read our analysis of the bill.

Join Us at One of Our Annual Gatherings

Each year, MountainTrue hosts a gathering of our members to recognize and honor outstanding volunteers, vote on new board members, and reflect on a year of hard work and accomplishments. Due to the COVID resurgence, we are holding four separate outdoor events — one in each region. We hope you can join us. Find your event and register to attend.

Protecting Ash Trees from the Emerald Ash Borer

MountainTrue’s public lands team is hard at work saving ash trees from emerald ash borer beetle. This summer, we assisted our partners with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in treating 280 ash trees in Macon and Haywood Counties. To date, MountainTrue has helped preserve more than 1,100 ash trees in Buncombe, Haywood, Macon, Madison, Transylvania, and Yancey counties.

MountainTrue Removes Invasive Plants from Rare Natural Communities

Photo by Armin Weise. From left to right: Bob Gale, Owen Carson, Brandon Wheeler, Josh Kelly, Armin Weise

MountainTrue has entered into an agreement with Pisgah National Forest to remove invasive plants from two rare grassland communities associated with rock outcrops. These areas contain dozens of rare species, and this work requires special care and expertise to ensure that we don’t inadvertently harm rare and native plants. Recently, we were able to treat 15 acres of invasives at two sites with the help of expert volunteers from EcoForesters, Equinox Environmental, and Western Carolina University. Want to get your hands dirty and volunteer? If you don’t mind difficult working conditions and breaking a sweat, contact josh@mountaintrue.org.

#BeMntTrue and Help Spread the Love for Nature and Our Region

Raise up your voice, show off your MountainTrue pride, and take part in our #BeMtnTrue Awareness Raiser!

This social media campaign will help MountainTrue reach new people and recruit more supporters and members. Take part in our #BeMtnTrue Awareness Raiser and help us build the movement to protect our communities and the places we share.

Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Get outside and take a selfie, photo, or video of yourself doing your part to protect our communities, cleaning up our rivers and trails, or just getting out to enjoy our beautiful Southern Blue Ridge Mountains.
  2. Then share your photos or videos on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and let the world know why you’re proud of being MountainTrue.
  3. Use the #BeMtnTrue hashtag and tag us in your post!
    Our tags:
    Facebook – @MountainTrue
    Twitter & Instagram – @mtntrue

You can start now by taking photos and videos and sharing them on social media while the weather is beautiful. Beginning on November 22, MountainTrue will share our favorites by reposting them on Facebook, featuring them on our Instagram story highlights, and retweeting them on Twitter.

Thanks for being a part of MountainTrue. Now get out and have some fun!

Prophetic Witness, Environmental Justice and the Mountain Valley Pipeline with Rev. Michael Malcom

Join the Creation Care Alliance on Thursday, October 21, for their monthly all-region Zoom meeting featuring Rev. Michael Malcom, Executive Director of The People’s Justice Council and Alabama Interfaith Power & Light. Named by Grist as one of the “top 50 people who will change the world” in recognition of his environmental work, Rev. Malcolm will discuss his experience protesting against the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) alongside frontline community members and faith leaders. Register today.

Meet Maddy Watson, Our New Communications Associate

MountainTrue is excited to welcome Maddy Watson as our new Communications Associate. Maddy is thrilled to join the team at MountainTrue and to have the chance to pursue her passion for inclusive, equitable, and impactful conservation storytelling and action. A lifelong nature lover and a resident of Western North Carolina since 2015, she is driven to protect the scenic beauty and ancient landscapes of the Southern Blue Ridge for current and future generations of people and wildlife. Maddy likes to spend her free time exploring mountain roads, woodland trails, and antique shops. With two Bachelor of Arts degrees and a Master of Public Affairs degree from Western Carolina University, she’s ready to contribute to meaningful change in the mountain region she loves so dearly.

High Country Regional News

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

Cottages of Boone Continue to Pollute the Watauga River

Our High Country Water Quality Team is vigilantly collecting E. coli samples and working with the Department of Environmental Quality to resolve ongoing water quality violations from The Cottages of Boone, an apartment complex on the outskirts of Boone. The Cottages has consistently violated their discharge permit and proven to be a direct threat to water quality in the High Country. Since May of 2021, the complex has discharged over 75,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into Laurel Fork Creek, which flows into the Watauga River.

MountainTrue has reported multiple wastewater discharge violations to the NC DEQ’s Division of Water Resources. DEQ has followed up and issued notices of violation. Want to help support us in our work? Take action and sign our petition in support of our I Love Rivers action plan.

Battle Non-Native Invasive Plants in the High Country

Join MountainTrue and the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition for an upcoming workday and help eradicate non-native invasive plants such as Oriental Bittersweet, Multiflora Rose, and Japanese Knotweed that grow along pathways and trails. MountainTrue is a member of the High Country Habitat Restoration Coalition — a coalition of agencies and non-profit partners working to educate the public about the environmental harm caused by non-native invasive plants and perform on-the-ground habitat restoration work in the High Country.

Interested in volunteering? Register for one of these upcoming events:
Oct 21 – 1–3 pm at Green Valley Community Park – 3896 Big Hill Rd, Todd, NC 28684
Oct 28 – 4–6 pm at The Greenway – 335 Hunting Hills Lane, Boone, NC, 28607
Nov 4- 1–3 pm at Valle Crucis Community Park – 2892 Broadstone Rd, Banner Elk, NC 28604

Collect Macroinvertebrates and Help Us Document the Health of our Streams

Do aquatic science with us by participating in the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) program this fall. Aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, are indicators of water quality. By collecting these water critters, we can rate the water quality of our local streams and monitor changes over time based on the families and species of insects collected. If you are interested in volunteering and learning more about aquatic organisms, please email hcwqa@mountaintrue.org.

What Have We Found in the Trash Trout this Month?

Our Trash Trout remains a valuable asset for the High Country. After a week of heavy rains, our team collected over 850 individual pieces of trash. Styrofoam is the most common type of trash found, with plastic bottles coming in second place. As part of our plastics monitoring program, we collect data and record the brands and types of trash polluting our waters. Click here to learn about all the work we are doing with our plastics campaign.

Southern Regional News

For Cleveland, Henderson, Polk, Rutherford and Transylvania counties

Celebrate at the Southern Region Annual Gathering!

Each year, MountainTrue hosts a gathering of our members to recognize and honor outstanding volunteers, vote on new board members, and reflect on a year of hard work and accomplishments. We hope you can join us on Tuesday, October 26, from 4:30 to 6 pm at Guidon Brewing Company in Hendersonville to recognize and honor MountainTrue’s 2021 Southern Region Volunteer of the Year: Erica Shanks! We are excited to be gathering in person this year and hope you can connect with us. All attendees are required to be vaccinated. Sign up to register.

Welcome AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator Mara Chamlee!

We’re excited to have Mara Chamlee joining us as our new AmeriCorps Water Quality Administrator in the Southern Region. She will be conducting water quality programming and educational efforts with volunteers, schools, and the greater community.

Mara is from Greenville, South Carolina, where she learned to love the ecology, landscapes, and people of the Southern Blue Ridge. Mara earned a B.S. in Biology from Furman University and focused her undergrad research on dragonflies as indicator species of water quality. Mara became especially interested in sustainable agriculture in watersheds during her time working with the watershed team at the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute. Since then, she has worked as a farm-to-school educator and food justice advocate in Vermont and Massachusetts.

Mara is finishing up a master’s degree in Conservation Leadership from Colorado State University, focusing on agriculture and watershed management in the Yampa Valley of Northwest Colorado. In her free time, Mara loves spending time outside, especially biking, backpacking, and gardening. Welcome to the team, Mara!

Weigh in on the Henderson County 2045 Comprehensive Plan!

Henderson County has kicked off its Comprehensive Planning effort with a Community Survey. This is an important opportunity for you to have a voice in how our county meets the challenges of climate change, a growing population, and increased pressures on our built and natural environments. We’ve prepared a guide for members of MountainTrue who want to see our community grow sustainably and responsibly. Click here for a list of suggested responses and more information about the survey and other opportunities for public input.

Learn about Sustainable Growth with Chris Joyell and Gray Jernigan

The League of Women Voters of Henderson County (LWVHC) is hosting a virtual program with guest speakers from MountainTrue sharing principles for sustainable and responsible growth in Henderson County on Wednesday, November 3 at 5 pm. Chris Joyell, Director, Healthy Communities, and Gray Jernigan, Southern Regional Director & Green Riverkeeper, will share guidance to assist public participation in the Henderson County 2045 Comprehensive Plan. The Henderson County Comprehensive Plan will serve as the vision and guide for development for the next 25 years. For more information and to register for this Zoom event, visit www.lwvhcnc.org.

Volunteer to help us monitor aquatic macroinvertebrates (that’s fancy for water bugs)!

Do aquatic science with us by participating in the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange (SMIE) program this fall. Aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, are indicators of water quality. By collecting these water critters, we can rate the water quality of our local streams and monitor changes over time based on the families and species of insects collected. If you are experienced in monitoring aquatic macroinvertebrates, we can get you on a sampling team before Thanksgiving. If you are inexperienced but want to learn, you can observe and assist a team this season and get trained in the future. Please email our Americorps Water Quality Administrator, Mara Chamlee, at wqa@mountaintrue.org.

Western Regional News

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

Western Region Annual Member Gathering Tonight

Each year, MountainTrue hosts a gathering of our members to celebrate outstanding volunteers, vote on new board members, and reflect on a year of hard work and accomplishments. Instead of one big gathering this year, we’re having smaller outdoor regional gatherings. In our Western Region, we’re gathering tonight, Wednesday, October 20th, at 4:30 pm at the Big Bear picnic pavilion in Franklin, NC. We hope you can join us to recognize and honor MountainTrue’s 2021 Western Region Volunteer of the Year: Tod Fullerton! We are excited to be gathering in person this year and hope you can connect with us. Sign up to register.

Volunteer to Help Restore Native Plant Diversity at Island Park

Nicole Harris shows off some Chinese privet plants she pulled up at Island Park on February 10, 2021.

Through our ongoing partnership to eradicate non-native invasive plants at Island Park in Bryson City, MountainTrue and the Tuckaseegee River Alliance are hosting another set of volunteer work sessions on Saturday, October 23, from 10 am-12 pm and 1-3 pm.

We will use hand tools to cut the remaining invasive shrubs and then treat the roots. Each session is limited to 15 volunteers. No prior experience is necessary, and we will provide tools and training. Rain date: October 30. Register today to help restore native plant diversity at Bryson City’s Island Park: morning (10-12) and afternoon (1-3).

Eleventh Annual Lake Chatuge Shoreline Cleanup

Join other lake-loving volunteers on the first Saturday in November for MountainTrue’s annual Lake Chatuge shoreline cleanup. The kickoff is at 9 am at the Towns County Swim Beach Pavilion across from the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, where volunteers will get their assigned cleanup locations and receive bags, gloves, and safety information. Coffee and grab-n-go breakfast snacks will be available, along with free t-shirts for the first 50 volunteers. After two hours of shoreline cleaning at the assigned site, volunteers will meet back at the pavilion at 11:30 for prizes. Please register in advance to help organizers assign volunteers to teams.

Katie Caruso is Helping Battle Non-Native Invasive Plants This Fall

If you participate in one of our non-native invasive plant volunteer workdays this fall, you’ll likely meet Katie Caruso, MountainTrue West’s new non-native Invasive Plant Intern. Since early September, Katie has been working with Western Region Program Coordinator Tony Ward to control non-native invasive plants at places like Mayor’s Park and Hamilton Gardens in Hiawassee, Georgia, and Island Park in Bryson City. Katie graduated in 2020 from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.S. in Biology. She most recently completed a one-year term with AmeriCorps doing habitat restoration work (including removing non-native invasive plants!) on the Oʻahu National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Hawaii.