Conserving Carolina seeks photo contest entries

BEAUTY ALL AROUND: Cathy Bester won the 2023 Conserving Carolina photo contest with this image of a ruby-crowned kinglet.

Conserving Carolina’s fifth annual Habitat at Home spring photo contest has launched and runs through Wednesday, May 15.

Conserving Carolina is looking for photos that showcase ways that people are restoring natural habitat — such as native plant gardens or bird boxes — as well as photos of animals spotted around homes and other buildings. 

Rose Lane, communications and marketing director, says, “The contest is a way to inspire more people to restore wildlife habitat where they live. That’s important because animals need a lot more habitat than they can find in parks and nature preserves. We’ve seen major declines in insect and bird populations because they don’t have enough habitat — and that affects all other wildlife. So if you restore some natural habitat at your place, you’re doing something important for nature. And you can see the results.” 

To enter the contest, share your photo or video on Facebook and/or Instagram as a public post with the hashtag #habitatathome2024 or email entries to You may enter as many times as you want. To be eligible for prizes, photos must be taken in Western North Carolina or Upstate South Carolina. The grand prize is a professional landscape consultation by Mark Byington of Byington Landscape Architects.

For more information, visit

Hendo Earth Fest slated for April 20

The second annual Hendo Earth Fest takes place Saturday, April 20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., in downtown Hendersonville.

Local organizations will educate, entertain and raise awareness on a number of environmental issues. There will be family-friendly activities, music and exhibits. 

For more information, visit

Please Bug Me puts insects first

Please Bug Me is a series of events at Black Mountain Center for the Arts aimed at raising awareness about the importance of insects in our ecosystem and the need to protect them. Events throughout April include a gallery exhibit, educational events and a hands-on field trip for second-grade classes. 

In addition to the exhibit, there will be a gallery reception and free educational presentation by Lenny Lampel at 5 p.m. Friday, April 19. Lampel, natural resources supervisor with Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation’s Division of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources, will provide insights into the importance of these creatures in our ecosystem. Attendees will receive a free white oak seedling and milkweed seeds for their gardens.

For more information, visit

Plant and garden sale 

Black Mountain Beautification Committee is hosting a plant and garden sale to fund its efforts to keep Black Mountain beautiful. The spring garden sale will run Friday, May 17, 3-7 p.m., and Saturday, May 18,  9 a.m.-3:30 p.m., in Black Mountain town square parking lot. Many nurseries and garden shows will have green things for sale.

For more information, visit

Specialty license plate sales top $570,000

Sales of the Blue Ridge Parkway specialty license plate in 2023 were the highest in 10 years, raising $570,000 for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. 

“We are incredibly grateful to receive support for the parkway from so many North Carolina drivers,” Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, said in a media release. “Purchasing the tag is an easy way to help the national park and also show your love for this amazing place to play and explore in your own backyard.”

The specialty plate fee is $30, of which $20 helps fund key improvements along the parkway, including repairs at trails, campgrounds and picnic areas. Proceeds also support projects such as wildlife studies, historic preservation and educational programs. Personalized plates are available for $60. The parkway tag can be purchased for cars and motorcycles.

To learn more, visit

Green Built Alliance to host Earth Day 5K

The nonprofit Green Built Alliance will host its second annual Earth Day 5K on Saturday, April 20. The Earth Day 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run start and finish at The Outpost adjacent to Carrier Park. Both races begins at 10 a.m. 

Grey Eagle Taqueria food truck and French Broad River Brewery will have food and drinks available to purchase at the event. The EcoGroove Collective will perform a live set. And runners can experience a sauna and cold plunge session courtesy of Drip Sauna. 

To learn more, visit

Seed exchange planned in Waynesville

A community seed exchange will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 20, at The Lineside, 58 Commerce St., in Waynesville. A seed exchange allows people from the community to swap seed packets with their neighbors before the spring planting season.
There also will be a raffle for those who bring nonperishable food items that will be donated to Feeding the Multitude in Canton. Three food items gets you one raffle ticket.
Volunteers from the NC Extension Master Gardeners will be on-hand to answer gardening questions about vegetables, flowers, fruits, and landscaping. There also will be a children’s seed-planting activity.

Conservancy saves 29 acres at Full Sun Farm 

The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy completed a conservation easement permanently protecting 29 farmland acres at Full Sun Farm in Sandy Mush in northwestern Buncombe County. The land includes prime soils of national and local importance. The farm is amid other land conserved by SAHC and Buncombe County. The easement was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Services’ Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Agricultural Land Easements, Buncombe County and The Biltmore Co. Full Sun Farm is a family farm selling directly to the community through CSA shares, tailgate markets and more. 

To learn more, visit

Solar program benefits MountainTrue 

Sugar Hollow Solar set up a referral program to benefit local environmental nonprofit MountainTrue. Through Monday, Sept. 30, for every new customer referral that signs a solar contract with Sugar Hollow Solar, the company will donate $50 to MountainTrue to help fund its work protecting the environment and provide the referrer with $250. Referrers can have Sugar Hollow Solar contribute the full $300 referral benefit to MountainTrue. 

To learn more, visit

Old Fort gets 10 more miles of trails

The G5 Trail Collective, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service in North Carolina, announced 10 miles of new trail construction in the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest surrounding Old Fort. Construction will begin immediately on this next phase of the 42-mile trail expansion planned for the Old Fort area. Six trails are set to open by the end of the year, three of which will be open to multiuse from equestrians, mountain bikers and hikers. The majority of the trails expand on the Gateway Trail System. Since early 2022, the U.S. Forest Service and G5 Trail Collective have completed 10 miles of trails and added two parking areas. 

To learn more, visit

Company donates soil analysis to park

Microbial Insights Inc., a leader in microbial testing, has donated over $90,000 worth of microbial analyses to support Discover Life in America’s research initiatives within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The project is studying the park’s soils and its interactions within various ecosystems as well as its changes over time.

Soil samples were collected from 22 locations across the park, ranging from grassy balds, hardwood forests, spruce/fir forests, caves, roadside locations and native grasslands that encompass various watersheds.

Discover Life in America staff and interns collaborated with Microbial Insights and microbiology professor Sean O’Connell and his students from Western Carolina University. Discover Life in America is a nonprofit working on the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory. Its mission is to catalog all living species within the park. To date, the group has helped to add 12,083 species to the inventory of life in the park, including 1,079 that are new to science, according to a media release.

To learn more, visit


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