BUILDING CULTURE: From the ancestors of the Ani Katuah to the first European settlers and later tobacco farmers, the evolution of human settlement and existence in the Southern Appalachians can be traced through the structure and buildings they erected to support their ways of life. The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University documents the evolution of built structures in its latest exhibit, Shelter on the Mountain, on display through May 28. Photo of an open cathedral-like hayloft of the 1951 gambrel-roof barn built by Delbert and Charlie Shelton in the Shelton Laurel community. By Earthsong Photography/ Don McGowan

Rural Heritage Museum highlights history of WNC barns

From the Ani Katuah to white settlers and tobacco farmers, barns and buildings have played a central role in defining the culture of the Southern Appalachians. Shelter on the Mountain: Barns and Building Traditions of the Southern Highlands traces the evolution of local building practices.

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

Sustainability expert Doug Bruggeman is proposing an investment strategy to protect multiple watersheds in WNC.

N.C. Supreme Court rules taking of Asheville water system unconstitu­tional

“Many years ago,” says Mayor Manheimer, “our city leadership made the bold and wise investment in a watershed and water infrastructure that provided the foundation for the robust water system we have today … This ruling ensures that Asheville can continue to own this great water system and continue to provide safe drinking water for years into the future.”

Trudie Henninger. Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Arboretum

Julian Award winner Trudie Henninger: Connecting kids with nature as citizen scientists

For several weeks this past spring, Trudie Henninger led a class of kindergarteners outside to monitor and study the changes in nearby redbud trees. The process was slow. The kids grew restless. “They’re not doing anything, they’re not doing anything!” they insisted. But then one day, the whole class came running inside, chanting, “They’re blooming, […]

HEART OF OAK: Forest researcher Tara Keyser (right) explains to a group of forest industry partners why new forestry management techniques are needed to regenerate oak trees — and how the method she is studying might help. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Bent Creek study tests method for reversing oak decline

Economically and ecologically valuable, oak trees dominate the forests of our region. But forest experts say that when the mature oak and hickory forests are cut, they are increasingly being replaced by fast-growing and aggressive yellow poplar. Researchers have been seeking solutions to the problem for decades, with little success. A new study in Bent Creek hopes to change that.

NEW PLANS, NEW CONCERNS: Members of the Swannanoa community met with Community Advisory Group members, federal and state environmental officials Thurday, Dec. 1 to discuss future plans for the Chemtronics Superfund site. Photo by Max Hunt

For the record: EPA reviews 2016 Record of Decision, presence of new contaminan­ts at Chemtronic­s site

Swannanoa residents met with members of the Community Advisory Group, federal and state environmental protection officials Thursday evening to review the 2016 Record of Decision for the Chemtronics Superfund site. The EPA also revealed the presence of a new contamination detection on the property.

Map of area to be remediated. Graphic from draft remediation plan by Pioneer Technologies Corporation

Few attend public hearing on DuPont Forest cleanup

A “doughnut hole” of contamination in DuPont State Recreational Forest likely will be cleaned up in the coming year as a remediation plan moves forward. State officials held a public comment session on Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Transylvania County Public Library, but only a half dozen people attended and just one came forward to comment. […]

Susan Sides. Photo by Emma Grace Moon

Julian Award winner Susan Sides: Feeding our hunger for food and community

Since she was a child, Susan Sides has had her fingers in the dirt, helping her mother with the family garden. That early experience had a profound impact, fostering a passion that continues to this day: Since its inception in 2009, Sides has worked as executive director and garden manager at the Lord’s Acre in […]