Saluda Grade line in Saluda

Green in brief: Nonprofits plan conversion of Saluda Grade into trail

The path, running along an inactive railway, would stretch about 31 miles northwest from Inman, S.C., through Tryon and Saluda before terminating in Zirconia, about 7 miles southeast of Hendersonville. Hendersonville-based Conserving Carolina; Greenville, S.C.-based Upstate Forever; and Spartanburg, S.C.-based PAL are leading the effort.

Poverty rate graphics for Buncombe County

Buncombe leaders talk rising poverty, county economy

According to data presented by Tim Love, Buncombe’s director of economic development and governmental relations, the county’s poverty rate went up from about 11.5% in 2018 — its lowest point in a decade — to about 13.9% in 2020, the latest year for which information was available. Poverty in both North Carolina and the overall U.S. fell over the same period.

French Broad in Transylvania County

Green in brief: Morrow Landing to offer new French Broad access near Brevard

The land, purchased by Conserving Carolina, falls roughly halfway between the current Island Ford and Hap Simpson Park access points, which are separated by nearly 10 miles of river. Morrow Landing’s placement will therefore facilitate shorter trips by less experienced river users and improve access for emergency responders.

Chestnut Mountain entrance

Green in brief: Chestnut Mountain Nature Park opens to public

About 35 acres of the nearly 450-acre tract — purchased by the nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy in 2020 and recently transferred to the town of Canton — are now open, including the Berm Park mountain bike skills course and a mixed-use hiking/biking trail.

Kylie Barnes, water quality administrator for MountainTrue

Green in brief: MountainTr­ue seeks ban on single-use plastics

A study conducted by MountainTrue found an average of 19 microplastic particles — pieces smaller than 5 millimeters, formed by the breakdown of larger plastics — per liter of water in local river systems. Exposure to microplastics has been tied to allergic reactions and other health impacts in humans, as well as negative effects on fish.

French Broad River in River Arts District

Study puts $3.8B annual price tag on French Broad

A recently completed study, commissioned by the French Broad River Partnership in 2019 and led by economist Steve Ha of Western Carolina University, sets the total economic value of the French Broad and its tributaries at $3.8 billion per year. By comparison, the Blue Ridge Parkway that also runs through Asheville creates about $1.3 billion in economic output per year.