The Green Scene

Inconvenient bike traffic to proclaim “inconvenient truth”

Green Scene artwork

The last time climate-change activist group Rising Tide North America staged a public demonstration in this region, they landed on the front page of Virginia’s Bristol Herald Courier for impeding operations at a coal-fired power plant in Carbo, Va.

In that early-July protest, activists locked themselves down to work equipment, dropped banners and suspended an individual under a bridge in an effort to prevent incoming trucks from depositing coal that had been extracted from nearby strip mines. Their purpose was to draw attention to mountaintop-removal mining, a practice the group charges is unsustainable, environmentally destructive and harmful to the health of coalfield residents.

On Aug. 25, the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, this same group will pedal through Asheville’s arteries as part of an international series of Critical Mass bike rides. Their aim is twofold: To highlight the links among fossil fuels, climate change and hurricanes while using emission-free transportation; and to remind the public about relief and advocacy efforts for Katrina survivors. As with all Critical Mass rides, it’s free and open to the public.

Scheduled to commence at 5 p.m. at the community garden near Haywood and Westwood roads in West Asheville, this Critical Mass is one of 24 scheduled on the same date throughout the U.S. and Canada.

A multimillion-dollar view for everyone

The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, along with the state of North Carolina, recently acquired 271 acres atop the Blue Ridge escarpment for Hickory Nut Gorge State Park. The state purchased 160 acres located on the Polk/Rutherford county line for $2.7 million, while CMLC purchased a $1.8 million tract of 110 acres in Polk County. The Open Space Institute, a nonprofit conservation lender, loaned the money to the conservancy.

The land was purchased from James and Eva McCraw, who owned the property jointly with their three sons. The McCraws, whose family has lived in the area for generations, opted to sell for conservation purposes despite higher offers from out-of-state developers. “They felt that they would be protecting their family’s legacy, and that was very important to them,” says Kiernan Roe, executive director of CMLC.

The property borders “World’s Edge,” a 1,500-acre tract also slated for Hickory Nut Gorge State Park. The white irisette and the green salamander, both federally endangered, will be safe from habitat destruction thanks to this conservation initiative.

To stop the road from being paved, they’ll use a trick from Burma Shave

The Stop I-3 Coalition — formed to oppose construction of an interstate that would extend from Savannah, Ga., to Knoxville, Tenn. — has borrowed a campaign tactic from an old-time advertising blitz whose success, ironically, relied on traffic. Burma Shave, a shaving-cream company started up in the early 1920s, had around 7,000 roadside ads posted along two-lane highways by the mid-’50s. The miniature billboards provided humorous jingles out of a series of phrases spaced out over a distance (i.e., “The bearded lady/ Tried a jar/ She’s now/ A Famous/ Movie Star/ Burma Shave”).

In an effort to draw attention to the proposal for an interstate that coalition chair Greg Kidd says would “have tremendous impacts on wildlife, aesthetics, important cultural resources and other issues associated with quality of life,” the grassroots organization has hit the roads with little ditties of their own. They’re targeting scenic byways with phrases like “Smoky Mountains/ Will be lost/ The Smoke will soon/ Be Truck exhaust/ Stop I-3.”

The Stop I-3 Coalition, comprised of more than 30 organizations including the WNC Alliance and the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, is intent on halting construction of the interstate before it starts. For potential route maps and information, visit www.stopi-3.org. “People come to this region because it’s unique,” says Kidd. “Highways like this tend to bring that Anywhere, USA, look.”

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