WNC receives $100K toward electric vehicle charging stations
North Carolina has started to spend the $92 million it will receive as part of a federal settlement with German automaker Volkswagen over an emissions cheating scandal, and Western North Carolina is in line for a chunk of that change. Eight electric vehicle charging stations in the region will get a total of $100,000 in the first round of a new program administered by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.
The DEQ program partially defrays the cost of installing Level 2 charging infrastructure, which can recharge electric vehicles up to seven times as quickly as a standard 120-volt outlet. “The primary goal is to increase use of [zero emissions vehicles] in place of gas-powered cars to mitigate nitrogen oxides, particulate matter and greenhouse gas emissions in the state,” wrote the DEQ in a statement announcing the awards.
In Buncombe County, funded charging stations will be located at Lake Louise Park in Weaverville, Lake Tomahawk Park in Black Mountain and the Black Mountain Library. Other projects will be funded in Henderson, Rutherford and Transylvania counties; the full list is available at avl.mx/938.
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission urges caution around bear dens
WNC’s black bears are stirring out of hibernation, and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is warning residents to give the bruins a wide berth. Commission staffers note that bear dens can be located “in rock cavities, brush piles, tree cavities, excavations under fallen trees, ground nests, under decks and in crawl spaces,” including spaces close to human activity.
The best next step after finding a bear den is to leave it alone, says Colleen Olfenbuttel, the NCWRC’s black bear and furbearer biologist. If the den is located near an occupied area such as a deck or shed, call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 or contact District 9 wildlife management biologist Justin McVey at 828-273-7980 for further guidance.
The same approach applies to encounters with unaccompanied bear cubs. In most cases, the cub is waiting for its mother’s return and should not be approached. Residents should call McVey or the wildlife helpline if they suspect that a bear cub has been orphaned.
RiverLink asks Asheville residents to adopt storm drains
April showers bring May flowers, but they can also bring clogs to the approximately 10,000 storm drain inlets throughout the city of Asheville. That’s why, starting in April, Asheville-based nonprofit RiverLink is launching an Adopt-a-Storm Drain pilot project in the central Asheville watershed, supported through a $10,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina’s Pigeon River Fund.
Residents from downtown to the River Arts District can sign up to regularly check one of their neighborhood storm drains, keeping it clear of debris to reduce stormwater runoff pollution. RiverLink aims to recruit at least 100 volunteers, who will have the chance to win prizes for their efforts.
“After months of isolation due to COVID-19, I believe we are all ready to get outside and do something,” said Renee Fortner, RiverLink’s watershed resources manager, in a press release announcing the program. “Being a part of the Adopt-a-Storm Drain program will offer a safe opportunity to do something positive for our community and environment.”
Prospective volunteers can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-252-8474 x114 for more information.
Save the date
- RiverLink and the town of Black Mountain are offering a free virtual workshop to teach live staking for streambank restoration. Registration, open only to Black Mountain residents, includes 20 silky dogwood, elderberry and silky willow live stakes, which must be picked up 3-5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 12, at 304 Black Mountain Ave. More information is available at avl.mx/928.
- The N.C. Utilities Commission will hold a virtual public hearing on Duke Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan, which outlines the company’s long-range plans for generating electricity, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 16. The city of Asheville is formally intervening in the process to ask for the utility’s support in meeting city climate emergency and renewable energy commitments. More information and registration for comment available at avl.mx/92a.
- MountainTrue has announced its schedule for guided adventures in 2021. Upcoming options include an exploration of headwater streams near Tryon on Friday, April 9, and a wildflower amble near Robbinsville on Saturday, April 17. More information and registration available at avl.mx/929.
- The Outdoor Economy Conference announced plans to return for an in-person event Tuesday-Friday, Oct. 12-15. Online attendance options will also be available.
News to use
The Pigeon River Fund is accepting applications for projects that improve water quality in Buncombe, Haywood and Madison counties through Monday, March 15. Nonprofit organizations and public agencies can qualify for up to $35,000 in support. For more information, contact Tara Scholtz at 828-367-9913 or visit cfwnc.org.
- Barnardsville-based permaculture school Wild Abundance has made its online Holistic Garden Planning class available for free through Monday, March 15. More information and registration available at avl.mx/93c.
- The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project published Full Share, a guide to 60 community supported agriculture farms in WNC and surrounding areas. The free document is available online at avl.mx/936.
- The Fire Manager’s Guide to Blue Ridge Ecozones is now available online at avl.mx/937. Written by Adam Warwick, stewardship manager for The Nature Conservancy of North Carolina, the book outlines how proper burning can improve animal and plant habitats in the region.
- The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy completed a 26-acre conservation easement in the Hickory Nut Gap area. The land, which includes forested hillsides around the historic Sherrill’s Inn, joins roughly 1,500 acres the nonprofit has protected in the region.
- Wicked Weed Brewing partnered with recycling service TerraCycle to divert employee personal protective equipment, including single-use face masks and gloves, from the landfill. The move is part of a broader push by Anheuser-Busch’s craft beer brands to reduce their environmental impacts.
- The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services installed bipolar ionization technology, designed to filter coronavirus particles and other contaminants from heating and cooling systems, in several buildings at the WNC Agricultural Center. The equipment will provide greater safety for attendees at the Mountain State Fair, scheduled for Friday-Sunday, Sept. 10-19.