Watering red spruce seedlings at the Southern Highlands Reserve

Kelly Holdbrooks leads plant conservati­on at Southern Highlands Reserve

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.

News briefs: Asheville stands against racism, youths build Habitat home

Asheville takes a stand against racism this month as the YWCA builds community among those working for racial justice and encourages awareness of the negative impact of institutional and structural racism. The city earned a place on yet another national list, this time ranking No. 14 among the best places for LGBTQ retirees. And students from four area schools celebrated the completion of the Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity home they helped to build.

Buncombe County seal

County considers giving nonprofits first pick of surplus property

Under the revised policy, all certified 501(c) nonprofits registered in Buncombe County would be able to buy property appraised at less than $30,000 for its fair market value, first come first served, during the 10 days after its declaration as surplus. Only after that window has passed would the property be listed online for perusal by the general public.

March 29 Housing and Community Development Committee meeting

Housing and Community Developmen­t Committee struggles with nonprofit grant requests

“I don’t know how to stretch $230,000 into three-quarters of a million. I just don’t know how to do it. Maybe if I had Jesus here with the fish, and he was feeding everybody, maybe we could do that,” said committee member Keith Young to laughter from the audience. “That’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek response, but it is tough.”

Ahead of meeting, DOT backs off four lanes for Amboy and Meadow roads

The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun planning for a project intended to improve traffic flow and add facilities for pedestrians and bicyclists along the corridor that connects West Asheville and Biltmore Village. But with neighbors gearing up to oppose what they feared would be a plan to widen both Amboy and Meadow roads to four lanes, a DOT engineer says the agency has already taken that option off the table.

Asheville government­, schools, nonprofits launch effort to address achievemen­t gap

A group representing government, education, business and nonprofit organizations is coalescing to form a community response to a severe racial achievement gap in Asheville City Schools. But it’s not yet clear how the initiative will define its goals and approach — and what resources it can attract to fund the effort.