With interest in birth centers soaring, local facility struggles to cover costs

When Emma Strickland learned she was pregnant with her second child, she started looking for an alternative to a hospital birth. She found it at the WNC Birth Center. The center is open during the COVID pandemic but has had to scale back on some of its related services. Ironically, that’s led to a shortage of income at a time when women like Strickland find themselves increasingly drawn to a birth center.

Tiger Creek hiker

Green in brief: SAHC conserves nearly 3,000 acres; OGS gets social

The Asheville-based nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s work included both valuable wildlife habitats, such as the Wiles Creek and Little Rock Creek preserves, and prime farmland at risk of development. Sandy Hollar Farms in Buncombe County and Bowditch Bottoms in Yancey County were among the agricultural projects completed in 2020.

Etowah trestle on Ecusta trail

Green in brief: Ecusta Trail under contract, Arboretum launches kids bird-watching program

On Nov. 18, nonprofit Conserving Carolina announced that it had entered a contract to buy an unused 19-mile rail corridor between Brevard and Hendersonville for conversion into a greenway. Backers hope the Ecusta Trail will become a regional draw for running and biking enthusiasts.

Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri

On gratitude: Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri

“The current trends eroding our once-common values honoring truth, wisdom and collaboration will not extinguish my steady hope for our national and global future — a hope for policies and practices that serve all people and planet, starting with our own hearts and relentlessly expanding love into backyards, city streets, forests and beyond.”