Taking a hard look: WNC’s sustainabi­lity report card

As we celebrate Earth Day 2015, we take a look at the status of the sustainability movement in WNC. How far have we come, and how far do we have to go? We asked local nonprofits and regulatory agencies to take us to school by examining our environmental efforts — from our air to our water, from our successes to our failures — and giving us an honest assessment of how we’re doing.

Conservati­on in WNC — where we’re going, where we’ve been

From the Get It! Guide: Long before the age of Internet lists and online travel magazines, people came to Asheville and Western North Carolina for the intrinsic natural beauty. In fact, the beauty of our environment is what many say makes this place so special. But are we protecting what we have? What initiatives are underway to help ensure that the region remains a respite and a haven for generations to come?

No trespassin­g

Walking on private land is alluring, a little naughty—and liable to get you in trouble. With thousands of miles of public trails here, I’ve never felt the need to push the envelope. But a lot of our public lands are bordered by private property, and local land conservancies are scrambling to protect some of those […]

A love supreme

I only recently started using the “L-word” when referring to land. When I worked in the land-conservation field, my co-workers were scientists—biologists and ecologists—who rarely mentioned love. Instead, they worked to substantiate the conservation values on the land they were evaluating for easements. But as Boston attorney Stephen Small, a national leader in today’s land-trust […]

Happy valley

Twenty minutes northwest of Asheville, Highway 63 winds up a series of switchbacks, surmounts a ridge and dips down the other side. Views open up as the Walnut and Newfound mountains loom blue in the distance. In season, the fields lining the roadside are thick with tomatoes, rank stands of burley tobacco, feed corn and […]

Celebratin­g conservati­on

For our anniversary last year (our 34th), my husband treated me to a surprise flight in a small-engine plane. It was a Cessna—“a go-cart with wings,” we joked—and given my interest in local land conservation, he thought it would be an appropriate gift. “You need to see the land from another perspective,” he wrote on […]

The Green Scene

A billion dollars’ worth of protected land The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy is working to put a conservation easement on Hickory Nut Gap Farm. courtesy SAHC Farmers, land conservationists, public officials and area residents crowded into A-B Tech’s Ferguson Auditorium Jan. 4 to comment on a plan that would allocate an additional $1 billion in […]

Gaining ground

Bill Holbrook of Haywood County’s Bethel community checks his crop of bell peppers. Photos by Kent Priestley The Sandy Mush community, 20 miles northwest of Asheville, is the sort of place that would make a real-estate broker’s hands sweat and twitch. A broad, creek-lined valley floor nudges up against the Newfound Mountains, whose cloak of […]