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.

Signage at closed Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education

Pisgah wildlife education hub to close after flood damage

When Tropical Depression Fred tore through Western North Carolina in August, among the casualties was the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s executive board has moved to close and demolish the facility, replacing it with an expansion to the adjacent Bobby N. Setzer Fish Hatchery.

Mt. Pisgah view

Green in brief: State budget brings millions in environmen­tal funding to WNC

Among the largest allocations are $12.2 million to accelerate the purchase and opening of Pisgah View State Park in Buncombe County, $7.2 million for the removal of hazardous dams in WNC and $5 million to upgrade the city of Hendersonville’s wastewater treatment plant.

Lakeside Produce light pollution

WNC wrestles with light pollution

With the notable exception of the IDA-certified dark sky park at the PARI in Transylvania County — one of only two such facilities in the state — no sky in Western North Carolina is untouched by light pollution. Central Asheville can reach as high as a 6 on the Bortle Scale, in which 1 is complete darkness and 9 is the Las Vegas Strip.

Celebration of Isaac Dickson solar system

Green in brief: Isaac Dickson solar system goes online

Six years in the making, a 300 kilowatt-hour solar array at Asheville’s Isaac Dickson Elementary School was officially dedicated Sept. 24. The $428,000 project is expected to save the school over $1.3 million in utilities costs over its 30-year operational lifespan.

Rock climber at the Chimney Rock Village Boulders

New climbing spots expand the sport in WNC

The Carolina Climbers Coalition is helping to open two new areas later this year: the McKinney Gap Boulders in Burnsville and Chimney Rock Village Boulders in Chimney Rock. The new spots, says CCC Executive Director Mike Reardon, further his organization’s goal of conserving the natural environment, promoting safe climbing and preserving access to areas in the Carolinas.