11 Collier Avenue oak trees

Green in brief: P&Z says no to tree protection ordinance, WNC turkey harvest hits record high

Commission Chair Laura Hudson argued that the rules placed too much emphasis on tree protection and could become an untenable burden for developers. “If you jam too many requirements onto one small parcel, I think you’re going to kill the development altogether,” she said.

Maggie Sugg and Jennifer Runkle

Local researcher­s explore weather’s role in COVID-19 spread

New research, published in the journal Science of The Total Environment, suggests that humidity plays a greater role than does the temperature in the spread of the novel coronavirus. “Weather is just another factor that we need to be incorporating in our infectious disease modeling,” says lead author Jennifer Runkle, an environmental epidemiologist with the Asheville-based North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies at N.C. State University.

I-26 Connector moving ahead, but money issues loom

While local and state officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation say the nearly-$1 billion I-26 Connector project remains on schedule, recent financial woes at the agency have delayed some projects in the region. And those in the know say it’s too soon to say whether the domino effects from those delays may push off the start of construction for the connector project or affect later project stages.

Josh Kelly by logging road

Green in brief: Small firms claim exclusion from local public solar process, Forest Service OKs Buck Project

Mike Diethelm, president and founder of Asheville-based SolFarm Solar Co., says a $10 million construction bond requirement for would-be bidders on the solar projects “knocks out so many local medium and small solar businesses, which we have a lot of in this town, and only opens it up to the big guys.”

View from Craggy Pinnacle

Green in brief: Buncombe backs Craggy scenic designatio­n, Duke releases net-zero carbon report

At an April 21 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners lent their unanimous support to designating 16,000 acres of the Pisgah National Forest in the county’s northeast as the Craggy Mountain Wilderness and National Scenic Area. And on April 28, Duke Energy unveiled the most detailed public explanation to date of how company leaders are thinking about the longer-term future.

Buncombe County seal

Commission considers county, city employee sharing

According to the formal agreement, up for a Board of Commissioners vote on Tuesday, April 21, both city and county staffers would remain employees of and still be paid by their respective governments while carrying out their new duties. Asheville and Buncombe County would be required to cover the expense of all personal protective equipment for workers from the other government.

Bearwallow Mountain Trail

Green in brief: Buncombe merges conservati­on department­s, WNC trail closures

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.

Skeleton with sign at Asheville Climate Strike

Asheville climate activists split on carbon tax

Asheville City Council will urge Congress to pass the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, which is aimed at reducing fossil fuel use by imposing a tax that would increase over time. Before the 6-1 vote approving the board’s resolution, with Council member Brian Haynes opposed, members of the public weighed in on whether imposing such a tax is the right step.

Weeping Planet Earth costume

Green in brief: Asheville declares climate emergency, Duke opens Arden gas plant

“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.”

Town Branch from Depot Street Bridge

RiverLink’­s RAD Watershed Plan addresses Asheville’­s most impaired waterway

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.