At least 35 bears have been struck and killed since May 2018 in the 28-mile stretch of I-40 between the Maggie Valley exit and the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee. The Pigeon River Gorge Wildlife Connectivity Project, a joint effort of at least 19 governmental and nonprofit groups, is working to bring that death rate down.
The fund, which has grown to over $40,000 through gifts and investments, purchases replacements for downtown trees that are old, diseased or removed for redevelopment. Not all of the trees on Main Street are gifts from the Sherman Fund, but the many that are likely played a role in Hendersonville’s 2018 designation as North Carolina Tree City of the Year by the N.C. Forest Service.
The reserve’s biggest public-facing project is its red spruce restoration effort, which has planted roughly 4,000 trees on public land since 2009 in conjunction with state, federal and nonprofit partners. “When you get down to it, we’re just little plant nerds, doing the good fight and sharing everything we learn,” Holdbrooks says.
With wedding season right around the corner, local wedding vendors are ramping up options for local couples.
The city of Asheville has taken initial steps toward rezoning real estate in four places around town in hopes of encouraging new development that would offer a denser mix of housing, shops and office space, similar to Biltmore Park Town Square or Reynolds Village in Woodfin. “Asheville wants to move in a direction that is more urban, that is more walkable, that has a greater mix of uses,” says city planner Vaidila Satvika.
Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Henderson County Republican, on April 16 introduced a bill in the state House to require the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County to add Fletcher, Mills River and some unincorporated areas of northern Henderson County to its service district if a state board approves. The following day, the Buncombe MSD board voted to oppose the bill.
“With charged biochar, you’re building a better biome for the plant, permanently changing soil’s ability to hold nutrients, water and beneficial biology,” Nilsson says. “You can buy a carbon-sequestering tomato that was organically grown and also contributed to building the biome — it’s a path out of climate change.”
The annual Asheville Wordfest, which takes place April 12-14, promises to bring three days of Appalachia-focused workshops and readings by area writers, readers and thinkers.
Buncombe County has used about a third of the total 12.5 million cubic yards of space available to receive municipal solid waste, which the department tracks separately from waste produced by construction projects. At its construction and demolition landfill, which sits on the same property but is sorted separately, the county still has about 1.3 million cubic yards of fillable space out of a maximum capacity of about 2.4 million.
Started in 2011, the Green River Spring Cleaning has grown every year, with ever more participants paddling in to cover the Lower Green and the Upper Green. “Our goal is to work the entire Green River, from Lake Summit to Lake Adger, about 30 miles,” Benedict says. “That’s a lot, but I believe we can do it.”
During a March 14 listening session at The Collider in downtown Asheville about the DEQ’s Clean Energy Plan, a key provision of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 on clean energy and climate change, many of the roughly 70 Western North Carolina residents in attendance expressed frustration that the state wasn’t doing enough.
The N.C. GlaxoSmithKline Foundation donated $1 million to The North Carolina Arboretum with the intent to expand Project ecoEXPLORE from 23 WNC counties to all 100 counties across the state. The grant will also fund the arboretum’s Project EXPLORE teacher education program and Project OWL, a teacher certification program.
“If you take one thing away from this rally, let it be this: You are not as small as you think you are,” said Asheville High School freshman Clay Swan-Davis. The event, part of a global strike involving over 1.4 million young activists, called for “radical legislative action to combat climate change.”
The 2019 Appalachian Studies Association conference returns to Asheville after 27 years. The annual gathering brings together an eclectic mix of scholars, educators, activists, students, groups and institutions to discuss and present on a wide range of topics related to life in the region.
By adding a dedicated urban forester, crafting an urban forest master plan and strengthening the current municipal tree ordinance, say members of Asheville’s Tree Commission, the city can manage its growth in a greener and more climate-resilient way. “The more hard surface we have, the more green we need to balance it out,” says commission chair Stephen Hendricks.
Jason Carter’s creative instructional attitude recently earned him the honor of being named a Teacher Ambassador by the California-based National Center for Science Education. Along with nine colleagues from across the country, he will help develop, test and deploy a curriculum that addresses climate change denial.
Later this month, the N.C. Forest Service will help the city of Asheville carry out a series of controlled burns on at least 95 acres around the North Fork and Bee Tree Reservoirs, thereby reducing the risk of more severe fires in a watershed that serves more than 125,000 area residents.
The I-26 Connector project, an almost $1 billion overhaul of the highway system in and around Asheville, is one of 37 Division 13 projects that have been changed in a new draft State Transportation Improvement Program for 2020-29. The draft STIP identifies state transportation projects that will receive funding over a 10-year timeframe.
“People have a lot of unexpected, surprising, beautiful and heartwarming stories that happen in the forest,” says Dogwood Alliance marketing director Amanda Rodriguez. “It’s not just about acres and clean water and deforestation: It’s also about the really unique human connection that people have with forests.”
Jim Tolbert of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby encouraged members of the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority to support the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act, a bill that aims to reduce carbon emissions through a tax on fossil fuel companies.