Buncombe County seal

Woodfin greenway design seeks $958K in extra county funds

According to a staff report available before the Tuesday, Jan. 21, meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners, design of the project’s Riverside Drive segment had initially been estimated at $660,000, with 80% of the cost to be covered by federal grants. That projection, however, covers just 40% of the now-finalized price for laying out the greenway.

Unaffiliated voters in WNC

Unaffiliat­ed candidates face challengin­g path to ballot

Although unaffiliated voters are the second most-populous political group in North Carolina, no members of the state’s Congressional delegation are unaffiliated, nor are any officeholders at the state level. According to the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, just seven of 587 total county commission seats were won by independent or third-party candidates in 2018.

Volunteers at the St. Eugene garden

Lay leaders tie faith and environmen­tal action

For the first time, the Creation Care Alliance’s annual retreat, taking place at the Montreat Conference Center on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8, will include both clergy and lay leaders. While the first day remains focused on ordained ministers , its second day will offer “learning, grieving, inspiration and training” for all who connect their faith with creation care.

Asheville Climate Strike at Pack Square Park

In photos: Asheville Climate Strike turns out hundreds for Green New Deal

As world leaders met in Spain for a United Nations conference on climate change, Western North Carolina residents converged on Pack Square for their own environmental action on the morning of Dec. 6. Organized by Sunrise Movement Asheville in conjunction with six other area nonprofits, the Asheville Climate Strike for a Green New Deal called for government leaders “to take bold action and treat this like the climate emergency that it is.”

Student in Montreat College cybersecurity lab

Montreat expands cybersecur­ity plans despite Cooper funding veto

The North Carolina General Assembly voted to award Montreat College $20 million towards the establishment of an independent cybersecurity training center in October, but Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the money. The private, Christian liberal arts college’s boosters, however, say they won’t be discouraged in filling what they see as an urgent need for ethically responsible cyber operatives.

Cherryfield Creek

Study explores economic impact of French Broad

Commissioned by the French Broad River Partnership with $56,000 in grant funding from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Ecology Wildlife Foundation and Duke Energy, the research effectively seeks to fill out the river’s books. A team led by economist Steve Ha of Western Carolina University will analyze the monetary value of a healthy river to its eight-county watershed.

Buncombe County seal

Commission­ers to name parks, greenways and recreation board on Dec. 3

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners must whittle down 25 applicants to fill nine available slots on the new advisory group. According to the resolution establishing the group, members must be selected evenly from each commission district and should represent the community’s gender, age and racial diversity; notably, all of the current applicants are white.

2007 Asheville magnolia protest

Symposium renews call for urban tree protection­s

Climate Change and Asheville’s Urban Forest, a symposium organized by Asheville GreenWorks for Thursday, Nov. 14, 5-7:30 p.m., brings together a broad coalition around the results of the city’s recently released canopy study. Urban forest advocates emphasize that trees are critical to help Asheville avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Western North Carolina forest overlook

Smallholde­r Access Program certifies WNC forests

Less than 0.1% of all small woodlands are currently certified as responsibly managed, despite making up over 75% of all privately owned Southeast forests. The SAP pilot, a collaboration of forest product companies, the Forest Stewardship Council and Rainforest Alliance, is exploring how to bring those previously overlooked parcels into certified status.