Asheville releases guide to climate resilience
The city of Asheville has unveiled its first public resource for residents concerned about climate change. “Building a Climate-Resilient Asheville,” debuted during a June 19 meeting of the city’s Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment at The Collider, focuses on practical steps individuals can take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme weather.
Matt Hutchins, a researcher for UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center — which partnered with the city in developing both the guide and a broader-scale Climate Resilience Assessment — said that changes in weather patterns associated with climate disruption will lead to an increased frequency of extreme events. Flooding, landslides, wildfires and extreme heat, he said, are among the greatest climate risks the city will face in the coming years.
Asheville’s guide addresses each of these four threats, with additional analysis discussing how they might impact different geographical areas of the city. South Asheville, for example, is flagged as being at particular risk for wildfires, particularly in the Treetops, Ramble and Ballantree neighborhoods, while East Asheville is at major flood risk along the Swannanoa River.
Recommended strategies for building resilience — “investing now for a better future,” Hutchins explained — include planting vegetation to stabilize slopes for lower landslide risk, treating basements with moisture barriers to minimize flood impacts and removing dead trees to reduce the spread of wildfires. The guide also advises residents to prepare for emergencies in general by signing up for the AVL Alert system and creating a supply kit.
Chief Sustainability Officer Amber Weaver acknowledged that the challenges of climate change are “daunting” but said the guide is just part of the city’s preparedness work. NEMAC’s assessment of climate risks in Asheville, she said, will be critical in future city planning.
“We know that every time we work on something within the city, we’re able to pull the climate resilience assessment and look at it and have it be a part of the foundation of the choices and decisions we make,” Weaver said. “We’re able to have this for our policymakers and our decision-makers, and it’s also being embedded into the city’s budget.”
RiverLink plans sale of French Broad land for restaurant
A 1.29-acre property on Riverside Drive, currently owned by conservation nonprofit RiverLink and along the path of the French Broad River Greenway, has entered Asheville’s development pipeline to become a seafood restaurant. RiverLink has confirmed plans to sell the land if the project, proposed by local restaurateur Eric Scheffer and known as Jettie Rae’s Fish & Such, receives approval from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Asheville City Council.
On June 18, former City Council member Cecil Bothwell and RiverLink founder Karen Cragnolin circulated an email strongly condemning the move, with Bothwell calling it a “travesty” and a betrayal of donors’ trust. Cragnolin argued that the project contravened existing city plans and, if approved, would send a message that “anyone spending hours and funds on planning is just wasting their time.”
A June 18 thread about the project on the Asheville Politics Facebook group had 67 comments as of press time, many of them critical. RiverLink Executive Director Garrett Artz, however, dismissed these concerns in a June 19 statement to the Citizen Times.
“We are aware there is some criticism on social media,” noted Artz. “Nevertheless, we are seeing much more support for the sale of the property in our communications with donors.”
Worthy of note
For the second year in a row, Conserving Carolina won the national Coalition for Recreational Trails award for achievement in trail design and construction. The nonprofit’s 8.6-mile Weed Patch Mountain Trail in Lake Lure, completed in 2017, was recognized for erosion-reducing features such as its curvilinear path and the use of over 200 masoned stone steps.
- RiverLink, in conjunction with community partners, finished construction on a more than $525,000 stormwater control project at the Givens Estates retirement community in South Asheville. The nonprofit will work with Robinson Design Engineers to research how effectively the project stops sediment from entering Dingle Creek, a tributary of the French Broad River, which will inform standards for similar projects throughout Western North Carolina.
- Rebol Family Dentistry in Asheville partnered with New Jersey-based TerraCycle to coordinate the recycling of dental products not currently recycled in the area. Rinsed toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes and packaging, toothpaste cartons and floss containers will be accepted at the practice’s office at 69 McDowell St., then shipped to be made into new products.
Save the date
Together with Warren Wilson College, the Asheville Museum of Science is presenting a three-part sustainability lecture series at The Collider in Asheville. Topics include green building on Thursday, June 27; clean energy on Thursday, July 11; and land management on Thursday, Aug. 22. All talks begin at 6 p.m., with doors open for networking and complimentary refreshments at 5:30 p.m. Visit avl.mx/67q for more information.
- The N.C. Arboretum kicks off its expanded ecoEXPLORE citizen-science program for children with special activities and demonstrations at Chimney Rock State Park in Chimney Rock on Monday, July 8, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Similar events are also scheduled at Gorges State Park in Sapphire on Tuesday, July 9, and Mount Mitchell State Park in Burnsville on Wednesday, July 10. Further details are available at avl.mx/67r.
- The Forestry Extension Department of N.C. State University holds a workshop on alternative incomes for forest landowners on Thursday, July 11, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Mountain Horticultural Center in Mills River. The class focuses on strategies other than timber production, such as carbon markets, hunting leases and conservation easements, and is eligible for forestry continuing education credits. For more information and to register, visit avl.mx/66k.
- On Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, the Sapphire Valley Resort in Sapphire hosts the 16th annual Mountain Wildlife Days. Activities include a bird walk led by the Highlands Plateau Audubon Society, a presentation by “Bear Lady” Gaye Owen on coexisting with black bears, wildlife encounters and a silent auction. More information is available at avl.mx/67o.