UP A CREEK: Crumbling banks can lead to loss of land, water pollution and habitat degradation for wildlife. A guide from the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service provides property owners with advice and strategies for stabilizing stream banks on their property. Photo courtesy of N.C. Cooperative Extension Service

Slip, sliding away: WNC creek banks imperiled by erosion

Stream erosion is a growing problem in Western North Carolina. When a stream bank on your property erodes, more sediment enters the waterway and the area and appearance of your land is diminished. Government publications and agencies offer guidance for property owners hoping to stabilize their banks and promote healthy stream ecology.

DOWN ON MAIN STREET: With housing options limited within Asheville city limits, current residents and newcomers to the mountains are increasingly looking towards the surrounding small towns and communities as a place to settle down or launch a new business. In response, towns across WNC are managing the opportunities, and challenges, that come with growth. Photo by Max Hunt

Main Street renaissanc­e: WNC’s small towns confront growth, change

Asheville may be a top dream destination for many folks, but for an increasing number of newcomers and old-timers alike, the No. 1 dream destination may be just down the road a ways. With the challenges of urbanization besetting Asheville, newcomers and locals alike are turning to surrounding towns and communities in search of cheaper […]

TURNED ON: Duke Energy’s downtown distribution substation, located behind the U.S. Cellular Center on Rankin Avenue, was built in the mid-1960s. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Sparks fly: city struggles to locate, regulate new electrical substation­s

To meet growing power demand, Duke Energy says it will need to build three new electrical substations close to downtown over the next ten years. The city is rushing to put an ordinance establishing requirements for substation screening in place while residents are banding together to oppose substations in their neighborhoods.

COAT OF MANY COLORS: Jacob sheep have finer coats than many primitive sheep breeds, making them an ideal choice for farmers looking for a hardy, easy-to-keep fiber animal. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Strub of Hobbyknob Farm

Woolly bully: Local farmers preserve heritage breeds

Heritage livestock breeds have a lot to offer WNC’s small farmers. Fiber animals that evolved on small farmsteads are hardier and easier to manage than breeds developed for high yields and consistent characteristics. WNC farmers are exploring the advantages these heritage breeds offer, protecting them from possible extinction along the way.

PIPE DREAMS: Natural gas fuels a third of the nation’s electricity generation and heats half of America’s homes. Natural gas supplier Williams would like to see those numbers climb even higher. Historically low gas prices driven by shale gas production through hydraulic fracturing are behind thousands of miles of new gas pipeline projects. Photo courtesy of Williams

Duke Energy’s planned power plant tied to fracking

Natural gas will dethrone coal as the fossil fuel generating most of WNC’s electricity when Duke Energy’s new Lake Julian plant goes online in 2020. But how does natural gas get to this area, and where does it come from? Though tracing the gas molecules to their source is tricky, Xpress found that much of the area’s gas supply comes from hydraulic fracturing, and new pipeline projects are in the works to bring more fracked gas into the region.

MUDDY WATER’S TAKEN ALL: The Great Flood of 1916, the result of more than a week of rain and two hurricanes, ravaged Western North Carolina and its inhabitants, destroying infrastructure, stripping farmland of its topsoil and driving the sides of mountains down into the valleys. With the centennial anniversary of the flood approaching, filmmaker David Weintraub looks back on the devastation, the fortitude of WNC’s communities and why we must heed the lessons learned back then. Photo of South Depot St., Asheville, by William H. Barnhill; via Pack Memorial Library Special Collections

Rememberin­g the Great Flood of 1916

With the Great Flood’s centennial approaching, filmmaker David Weintraub has produced a documentary, Come Hell or High Water, exploring the catastrophe through descendants’ memories, historical photos and contemporary accounts. Xpress sat down with Weintraub to talk about the film, the flood’s impact on the region and the lessons to be learned.