On March 17, the county announced that it would combine its Soil and Water Conservation District with N.C. Cooperative Extension to form the Agriculture and Land Resources Department. Meanwhile, the managers of numerous area parks and trails have opted to restrict access in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
All meetings on the U.S. Forest Service schedule of open house sessions planned for March across Western North Carolina have been cancelled, with the 90-day comment period underway.
On Feb. 14, the U.S. Forest Service kicked off a 90-day comment period on the long-awaited draft of a new plan for the forests, set to take effect in 2021 and guide the service’s management approach over the next 10-15 years. Comment online, by mail and at public meetings throughout WNC ends on Thursday, May 14.
“The loss of life and damage caused by current global warming demonstrates that the Earth is already too hot for safety,” states the document approved by a 6-0 vote of Asheville City Council on Jan. 28. “Restoring a safe and stable climate requires an emergency climate mobilization on a scale not seen since World War II.”
Funded by a $78,000 grant from the N.C. Clean Water Management Fund and a $28,000 grant from the Pigeon River Fund, the yearlong assessment of the watershed’s health will include water quality monitoring, identification of pollution sources and suggestions for infrastructure changes. The goal is to provide long-term, meaningful protection for waterways such as Town Branch, also known as Nasty Branch.
Jeremiah LeRoy, Buncombe County’s sustainability officer, shares his top five reasons from 2019 to keep up hope about the county’s sustainability work.
Judy Mattox, chair of the Western North Carolina Sierra Club Group, shared her top five highlights from a year of advocacy with Mountain Xpress.
Dawn Chávez, the executive director of Asheville GreenWorks, found many threats to the region’s sustainability in 2019. She listed the top five of her worries for Xpress’s year-end review.
On Dec. 19, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing at A-B Tech to discuss Duke Energy’s plans to create a 12.5-acre industrial landfill at its Arden plant. All but two of the 15 speakers at the hearing expressed worries over the proposed site, which would store coal ash and demolition waste.
After hearing roughly seven hours of testimony on Dec. 11, the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment continued its deliberations on the approval of Crossroads West Asheville until Thursday, Jan. 23. The project could bring over 800 apartments, as well as retail and commercial space, to 68 acres off South Bear Creek Road.
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.
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.
In 2017, the county’s tourism board launched the Transylvania Always initiative, which has since invested thousands of occupancy tax dollars into everything from hiking trail restoration to French Broad River cleanup. “I really don’t know of anywhere else, particularly anywhere else of our small size, that is doing anything similar,” says Clark Lovelace, the TCT’s executive director.
In November, Michael Caterino of Clemson University and Paul Marek of Virginia Tech will start a three-year effort to catalog litter-dwelling arthropods — the biological group that includes such creatures as millipedes, spiders and beetles — on the high peaks of the southern Appalachians, including Mount Mitchell and Grandfather Mountain.
County planning staff members say special and family subdivisions have been abused by developers to skirt regulations on infrastructure and hillside protection. The Board of Commissioners will consider whether to approve new rules to fix those issues during its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, in room 326 at 200 College St.
Using the slogan “When in doubt, throw it out,” the statewide Recycle Right NC initiative aims to reduce contamination and improve the economic value of recyclables. Additionally, according to the National Weather Service’s Greenville-Spartanburg office, Western North Carolina is likely in for warmer-than-usual conditions over the foreseeable future.
“Healthy soil and the biodiversity that generates and maintains it is key in simultaneously improving food security, watershed health, preventive medicine and climate mitigation,” says farmer, ethnobotanist and educator Mark Cohen.
The Sept. 28 event will offer a milkweed plant sale, children’s educational activities and a monarch gardening workshop for adults.
A simple apple crisp can be an easy, creative way to highlight locally grown fruit.
The proposed Wild and Scenic River designation would require the U.S. Forest Service to develop a specific watershed management plan for a half-mile corridor along about 7 miles of the Nolichucky River running through the Nolichucky Gorge from Poplar, N.C., to Chestoa, Tenn. The move would also permanently prohibit federal support for dam building and other actions that could change the river’s flow.
The new program will work with local farmers and landowners in an effort to develop hemp as viable crop for Western North Carolina.