Image by Steph Guinan

Thinking big: Buncombe County plan points way toward sustainable future

“In North Carolina, sustainability plans are pretty rare,” reports Scott Mouw, recycling director at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “Not many communities have taken on the task of comprehensively looking at their environmental footprint and worked through ways to reduce that footprint.” In fact, Buncombe County is one of only a handful in the state to have such a plan, unanimously adopted by the Board of Commissioners May 15, 2012. But what is it, exactly? And what does it mean for current and future residents?

Good green fun: Asheville Earth Day celebration, on Lexington Avenue, offers an array of music, arts and environmental opportunities. Photo courtesy of Asheville Earth Day

Green party

Asheville Earth Day celebrates sustainability and optimism “I think what’s really cool about Earth Day is that it can provide this umbrella for all the nonprofits in Asheville to come together,” says Ben Colvin, development director for Wild South, the nonprofit host of Asheville Earth Day. That daylong outdoor festival returns to Lexington Avenue on […]

“How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet and our freedom of choice?" asks local filmmaker Jeremy Seifert in his documentary, GMO OMG.

Planetary alignment

Earth Week events around Western North Carolina Save the shrews, celebrate the trees, take in a film and clean up a stream or two. For more ideas, visit Calendar and Climate change talk at Warren Wilson College — Everyone knows what planktonic foraminifera is, right? Still, a little refresher from a Smithsonian scientist never […]

Looking forward: Graduate students in Lenoir-Rhyne’s new sustainability studies program are hoping their research projects will make a big community impact. Pictured from left to right: Lenoir-Rhyne Director Paul Knott; students Maria Wise and Alisha Goodman; Professor Keith McDade. Photo by Shara Crosby.

Future vision: Local sustainability graduate research targets real-world benefits

The first group of students in Lenoir-Rhyne University’s new sustainability studies program may be small, but the fruits of their research might eventually have a big local impact. Based at the Asheville campus, the new master’s degree program requires students to complete a “capstone” project combining graduate-level research with real-world conditions and needs. This spring, […]


Board of Adjustments approves revised Coggins Farm plan

After nearly eight hours of witness testimony, evidence and cross-examinations, the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment voted 6-1 to approve the proposed development of Coggins Farm in Riceville. During the hearing, the board had the opportunity to hear from neighbors concerned with the possibility of development affecting their own property values, flooding from Bull Creek and the increased traffic the project would create on roads that residents say are already dangerous.

Lafayette Gregory speaks to Asheville City Council about animal cruelty in exotic animal circus performances. (Mountain Xpress/Jesse Farthing)

Asheville City Council: Housing Trust Fund, ordinance adoptions and circus ban consideration

On April 8, Asheville City Council members voted unanimously to pass a resolution to adopt a Housing Trust Fund recommendation to fund Biotat LLC’s Oak Hill Commons Project, as well as an ordinance adopting the new 2014-15 Fees and Charges Manual. Council also considered a request that city officials ban circuses that use exotic animals from […]

Never-green forest: Many of the trees on Mount Mitchell’s upper slopes have fallen victim to a combination of acid rain and pests. photo by Bill Rhodes

Green Scene: Environmental antacid

The cloud of acid rain that's been hovering over Western North Carolina for decades may turn out to have a silver lining after all. A seven-year lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority ended in a negotiated settlement last June. In 2004, North Carolina joined Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky and Tennessee in suing TVA over air pollution […]

Kiss our ash goodbye?: An earthen dam holds back the coal-ash ponds at Progress Energy’s Skyland plant; the French Broad River and Interstate 26 lie below the 90-foot wall. photo by Hartwell Carson; flight courtesy SouthWings.

Green Scene: Dam your ash

A coalition of local and national environmental groups announced plans Jan. 19 to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to force the release of long-awaited rules regulating coal ash as hazardous waste. Despite evidence of leaking ponds and poisoned ground water, the EPA has delayed issuing new rules for nearly two years. Meanwhile, local environmentalists […]

Green Scene

The local Sierra Club chapter has another big idea for 2012: bolstering Progress Energy’s coal-ash ponds in Skyland to avoid a disaster like the massive spill at Kingston, Tenn., back in 2008. The local utility’s two coal-ash ponds are unlined and contained by earthen dams; activists worry that toxic contaminants are leaching into local ground […]

photo by Bill Rhodes

Green Scene

Buying only new tires puts more scrap tires into the waste stream; reuse is the highest form of recycling. Lots of folks can’t easily afford a set of new tires, and as long as they’re inspected for safety and tread depth, they’re often a good choice for the budget-minded. I don’t think it’s wise to […]

Green Scene

If we want to have an immediate, affordable, doable effect on the environment, Asheville needs lots more trees planted to combat the hot summers we've been experiencing, while helping clean the air. The DOT has removed hundreds of trees along the highways, and we need to take a proactive role in adding more trees back […]

Green Scene

As a native of Asheville, I want to help most of my friends and neighbors save money and finally move toward getting off the grid. Thank God, it's now not that hard to move toward a solar generator. I was miserable for seven days during the blizzard of 2009. I bought a gas generator afterward, […]

Big Ideas 2012: Deferring the deluge

The local Sierra Club chapter has another big idea for 2012: bolstering Progress Energy’s coal-ash ponds in Skyland to avoid a disaster like the massive spill at Kingston, Tenn. back in 2008. The local utility’s two coal-ash ponds are unlined and contained by earthen dams; activists worry that toxic contaminants are leaching into local ground […]

Green Scene

Light pollution is something many of us don’t think much about, but for stargazers, migrating birds and folks passionate about energy conservation, dark skies are a resource worth protecting. Buncombe County will be approving new outdoor-lighting standards in 2012, particularly commercial and industrial lighting, and some local activists see it as an opportunity to strengthen […]