Bearwallow Mountain view

Green in brief: WNC shows air quality improvemen­t, AG Stein awards $340K to area environmen­tal work

According to a new study by Filterbuy, an air filter industry website, the median air quality index in the Asheville metropolitan area was 15.3% better over the period from 2015-2019 compared with the period from 2005-2009. The Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton and Greenville, S.C., metros also showed big improvements.

Earl Hunter Jr. of Black Folks Camp Too

Green in brief: Black Folks Camp Too gains national partners, Hendersonv­ille kicks off bee mural project

Black Folks Camp Too founder Earl B. Hunter Jr. said new marketing collaborations would help him develop more interest in camping among the Black community. And later this month, Asheville-based artist Matthew Willey will begin work on a giant mural of honey bees at Hendersonville’s Hands On! Children’s Museum.

Hemlock Restoration Initiative staff and volunteers with treated hemlock

Hemlock Restoratio­n Initiative seeks long-term state support

A $300,000 recurring allocation for the HRI, a program of Asheville-based nonprofit WNC Communities, stalled in the N.C. General Assembly due to partisan gridlock over the state budget. A joint proclamation between the HRI and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services now aims to make the hemlock’s future more secure.

Friends of East Flat Rock poster

Green in brief: Henderson planning board votes against asphalt plant

Board member Rick Livingston, who made the motion to deny the recommendation, said the proposed SE Asphalt plant’s location in a “very residential area” off the Spartanburg Highway was incompatible with both the county’s comprehensive plan and East Flat Rock’s community plan.

Abigail Joyce samping water for PFAS

State researcher­s release first reports on PFAS in WNC water

None of the systems that serve the Xpress coverage area exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s advisory limit for the so-called “forever chemicals.” Nor did any system have more than 10 ppt of any individual PFAS, the level at which the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has required Chemours Co. to provide water filtration.

Solar panels on parking garage

Green in brief: Local government­s fund community solar, Asheville School conducts first in-city deer hunt

Together, the city of Asheville and Buncombe County approved over $11 million in funding to install roughly 7 megawatts of solar power at public facilities and area schools. The projects are anticipated to save the governments and local schools roughly $650,000 in electricity costs in the first year and more than $27 million over the installations’ 30-year operational life.

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.”