BIG RIVER: Flooding concerns have played a pivotal part in the recent debate over redevelopment plans for the River Arts District. Photo by Xpress.

If the creek don’t rise: Flooding, money and politics in the River Arts District

City plans to improve infrastructure, expand public space, increase access and encourage private development in the River Arts District have triggered considerable controversy. Xpress reached out to the city, RAD business and property owners, and organizations involved in the now flourishing area’s revitalization to try to answer some key questions.

The answer to suburbia: Robert Eidus says the raised bed containing ginseng and goldenseal that sits off his back deck is a sustainable solution for resupplying your herbal medicine chest in the face of a diminishing supply of these highly sought plants.

Overharves­ting of forest plants calls for mindful consumers

With interest in wild edibles and native medicinals growing, the demand on these plants is quickly exceeding the supply — leading to over-harvesting, poaching and a risk of extinction. When browsing the stands at the farmers market or the shelves in an herbal shop, how can you know if the plants and products you’re purchasing are supporting sustainable, local growers or contributing to a growing problem?

Hemlock trees are disappearing from the Appalachian Mountains due to the non-native invasive species, the hemlock wooly adelgid. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners agreed unanimously at the May 19 meeting to move forward with a project to preserve the hemlocks from further eradication.

Buncombe Commission­ers approve hemlock preservati­on project

At the Tuesday, May 19 meeting, commissioners unanimously approved a project to protect the region’s disappearing hemlock population. They also heard budget requests from Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, A-B Tech and District Attorney Todd Williams, as well as the proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year — all of which will come to a public hearing at the next regular meeting, on June 2.

A HIGHER STANDARD: In opting to purchase mostly non-GMO and organic products for his restaurant — including only non-GMO corn chips and fryer oil — Mamacita’s owner John Atwater says he is trying to use his purchasing power to send a message. “The more interest we place on holding products up to a higher standard, I think that educates everyone, from the employees that work with us to the vendors that sell the products,” says Atwater.

GMOs: Yes or no? Local restaurant­s seek to meet demand for non-GMO foods

Chipotle Mexican Grill became the first national restaurant chain to ban genetically modified ingredients from its menu. But while the company has made headlines across the U.S. for its bold stance against the industry’s claim that all food is created equal, many Asheville restaurants have been waging a much quieter war of their own for years.

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Buncombe Commission­ers to discuss parkway preservati­on, historical art project, air quality concerns

The Tuesday, May 5 Buncombe County Board of Commissioners meeting might be one for the books, as the board will discuss a new art, culture and history project that may result in the addition of a new landmark on the horizon. The board will discuss this, as well as a few environmental interests.

View across lake of Duke Energy's Lake Julian plant

UPDATE: Asheville City Council asks local agency to toughen SO2 standard on Duke Energy plant

At tonight’s meeting, April 28, Asheville City Council members may agree to ask the local air agency to “strengthen” proposed limits on sulphur dioxide emissions at Duke Energy’s local power plant. The move comes ahead of a Wednesday, April 29, public hearing that the Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency will hold to consider renewing the air permit for the Duke Energy plant.