from Land-of-Sky Regional Council
Land-of-Sky Regional Council mourns the loss of our dear friend, Jim Stokoe, and celebrates his life. After a valiant fight, “Jim lifted off with amazing gentleness and peace” on December 11, 2012.
After 30 years of outstanding service, Jim Stokoe retired in June 2010 from Land-of-Sky Regional Council as its Assistant Director and Director of its Local Government Services Section.
Jim guided his department with a firm yet gentle hand, provided support to his staff, and encouraged us to stretch our imaginations and bring innovative and relevant initiatives to our member governments. He was a quiet leader, highly respected by our local government officials and staff, and always there for guidance and support.
Jim worked faithfully to assist our member governments and to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties. He began his work at Land-of-Sky in 1978 and was placed in charge of the Council’s French Broad River Improvement Program. One of Jim’s first major contributions was the development of the River Access System. In the late 70s, there was very little public access to the River. Jim worked with TVA, local governments and landowners to successfully create the first fifteen access points to the river within all four counties, and he developed the first “River Guide” map in 1982. The map and river access parks are still used and enjoyed by fishermen, boaters and other river users today.
Jim worked with landowners along the French Broad, Swannanoa and Ivy rivers to stabilize eroding streambanks using bioengineering methods 20 years before that became the established practice. Jim oversaw the implementation of the Council’s Water Quality Management Plan helping to restore water quality in the French Broad River and its tributaries. He assisted many member governments in securing grants to upgrade their water and wastewater systems. In recent years, Jim led the development of the region’s green infrastructure planning program – Linking Lands and Communities – which identified lands most valuable for preserving our region’s water quality, biodiversity, wildlife habitat and agriculture.
Under Jim’s leadership, the Regional Brownfields Initiative was developed; the program has brought over $4 million to our region for the safe redevelopment of underutilized and abandoned sites, protecting the forests and farmlands he so loved. Jim also launched the region’s Clean Energy Economy Project and led the formation of the Land-of-Sky Rural Transportation Planning Organization (RPO), providing a forum for the region’s rural governments to have a voice in transportation planning.
Jim loved to hike in these beautiful mountains picking blueberries and mushrooms at his favorite spots. We know he was proud of his efforts to protect these special places. As we mourn his passing, we thank all of you who worked with Jim to make Western North Carolina a better place for all of us and for future generations.
A celebration of Jim’s life was held on Saturday, December 15th, 2:00p.m. at Jubilee! Community in downtown Asheville. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to his wife Linda’s non-profit Little Pearls, to Jubilee! Community, to Care Partners’ Solace Center, or to any animal welfare or environmental organization you love.