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.

SOCIAL ANXIETY: Since evidence of the scope and extent of contamination began coming to public light a decade ago, the former CTS of Asheville Superfund site has bred tension and distrust between residents and the agencies charged with overseeing containment and remediation of the site. With a new remedial action plan set to be implemented by the end of 2016, many community members are hoping that EPA officials will finally follow through with cleanup measures they say are several decades late in coming.  Photo  by Dan Caylor

Toxic legacy: CTS site breeds heartache for residents

With the EPA set to implement a new remediation strategy at the CTS of Asheville Superfund site this year, some residents and public officials are cautiously hopeful that the long-standing issues might finally be addressed. Others continue to lobby federal authorities to hold the EPA accountable for past missteps and speed up the remediation process.

Bowen Bridge will carry only local traffic under N.C. Department of Transportation's 4B plan. Photo by Bill Rhodes

Finally, a route for I-26 through Asheville

A route has finally been chosen, but numerous details about the long-delayed I-26 Connector through Asheville — including the scope of the project and how the new roadway will affect nearby residents — remain unclear. After decades of debate, the N.C. Department of Transportation has settled on a route for the Interstate 26 project through […]

Bike to Work Week is May 16-20 and each day a local brewery will host a fundraising event. At the end of the week the money will be awarded to local nonprofits Asheville on Bikes and Friends of Connect Buncombe.

Breweries help fuel Bike to Work Week

National Bike to Work Week kicks off Monday, May 16, and the initiative is getting a boost from a slew of local breweries. Each night, from May 16-20, a different brewery will host a bike-centric bash, culminating with proceeds from all events being presented to local nonprofits Asheville on Bikes and Friends of Connect Buncombe.

READY FOR ACTION: A group of friends participate in a resilient-living workshop at Ashevillage Institute. Photo courtesy of Ashevillage Institute

Ashevillage’s Community Resilience Challenge tests residents’ skills, resources

“Be prepared” goes the Scouting movement’s mantra. And being able to face any challenge is often a goal of institutions. But the question is always: How? How can we be best prepared for whatever may come? The Boy Scout carries his pocketknife. Emergency services train for possible scenarios. Young people study to pass the big […]

ON ITS WAY: MSD Operations Manager Roger Edwards pours out the end product of MSD's efforts—water deemed clean enough to go into the French Broad River. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Cleaning up toxic mercury from dental offices

Dental appointments make plenty of people nervous, but water pollution isn’t usually what they’re worrying about. According to Environmental Protection Agency estimates, however, dental offices are responsible for 50 percent of the mercury entering the nation’s wastewater. Dental amalgam is 49 percent mercury by weight, and dental offices discharge about 4.4 tons of it annually. […]