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connemaraJoin the Western North Carolina Alliance and Creation Care Alliance of WNC on a beautiful, Sunday afternoon hike from 1-5 p.m. Nov. 2 on the Glassy Mountain Trail at the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.

We’ll have ecological guidance, as well as an interfaith reflection, as we soak in the late colors of autumn. This hike is free and open to all ages.

Registration is required. 

Meeting place & time: 
1 p.m. Nov. 2 in Earth Fare’s parking lot in Westgate Shopping Center, and organize a carpool to Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site , about a 35-minute drive. We’ll return to Earth Fare no later than 5 p.m. 

What to Expect:
This is about a 1.5 mile round trip hike that starts flat and ends with a moderate climb to the top of Glassy Mountain. We’ll hike slowly on the climb, taking in the beautiful surroundings, before reaching the awe inspiring vista of Mount Pisgah and beyond.  Josh Kelly, WNCA’s field biologist, will interpret the flora and fauna along the way, and Pastor Scott Hardin-Nieri of CCAWNC will lead an interfaith spiritual reflection.

What to Bring/Wear:
•    Water bottle (and snacks if you like)
•    Medications for any allergies, etc.
•    Camera
•    Supportive shoes
•    *Be prepared for rainy or cold weather – raincoat, warm jacket/layers as needed*

We are greatly looking forward to our first ever joint WNCA & Creation Care Alliance of WNC outing! 

Register for the hike here!

To learn more about Creation Care Alliance of WNC, click here!

 

Categories Events Calendar, Trips & Outings
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Local Business Community Unites in Call for Clean Energy Economy
Friday, October 17, 2014

Contact:
Adam Beitman, Sierra Club, (202) 675-2385 or adam.beitman@sierraclub.org
Melissa Williams, Western North Carolina Alliance, 828-258-8737 x 216 or Melissa@WNCA.org

Medea Galligan's business is located near Duke's coal-fire power plant.

Medea Galligan’s business is located near Duke’s coal-fired power plant in South Asheville.

ASHEVILLE, NC – Eighty businesses across the greater Asheville area have signed a joint letter to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good demanding retirement of the city’s coal-fired power plant, and several of the business owners gathered to mark the signing at an Asheville Beyond Coal reception Thursday evening.

Along with calling for a transition away from coal, the letter calls for increased investment in a clean energy future for “the health of our local economy, our community, and our planet.”

Among the signers are well-known local businesses, including Cúrate, Blue Ridge Biofuels, the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, Katuah Market, Black Mountain Yoga, Blue Moon Water and Sundance Power Systems. Many of these businesses have incorporated best practices for sustainability into their business model.

“This is a wakeup call to Duke Energy from small business owners, who are the heart and soul of Asheville’s economy” said Dayna Reggero of Accelerating Appalachia, a local business accelerator based in Asheville.

“Burning coal is a dirty, polluting form of generating electricity that is harmful to our air, water and health, and using it to power our city doesn’t match with our community’s values of healthy living,” said Medea Galligan, owner of Medea’s Espresso and Juice Bar, which is located in the vicinity of the power plant. “We are on a path to become a green city, but the coal plant here is the largest source of climate-disrupting carbon pollution in Western North Carolina. I would like to see our community powered by clean energy instead.”

Duke Energy’s Asheville-area coal plant is the largest source of climate-disrupting carbon pollution in Western North Carolina. Years of data confirm that toxic pollution is leaking from its coal ash pits into both the river and groundwater. This plant is the the largest industrial source of air pollution in Western North Carolina as well.

In October 2013, the Asheville City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling on Duke Energy to responsibly retire the coal plant and transition to cleaner forms of energy.

The Asheville Beyond Coal reception for the businesses included a special cocktail menu at Sovereign Remedies in downtown Asheville. Drinks crafted especially for the evening — with names like “Hazy Day,” “Duke’s Up” and a “Coal Ash Martini” — were on tap for the event.

 

On Saturday, Oct. 25, Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO) will host an easy half-day paddle trip on the French Broad River to admire the beautiful fall foliage. The trip will start and end at the Oskar Blues Brewery in Brevard.

Canoes will be provided but you’re welcome to bring your own. 

Cost is $20/per person and spaces are limited. Please join us for a leisurely day on the French Broad River as we admire the beautiful fall colors!”

Call the ECO office for details and to reserve your space: 

(828) 692-0385. 

A black bear is caught on a candid camera in the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest this past summer.

A black bear is caught on a candid camera in the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest this past summer.

Over the summer, the U.S. Forest Service in the Grandfather District of Pisgah National Forest deployed 50 motion-triggered trail cameras in the forest to determine how animals use a prescribed burn area compared to a non-burned area.

The composition and function of plant communities has been changed, inadvertently, from fire suppression. This biological shift also affects animals’ foraging strategies, and the USFS is interested in quantifying how animal communities are changed in response to the lack of fire.

 WHAT: We many still images as data and we need volunteers to help us look through and count the animals that the cameras photographed in the forests.

 WHEN: Between now and Nov. 1. The USFS must present phase one of the results in mid-November. They want to know which species were in which locations and how many times they were photographed. After Nov. 1, there is opportunity to continue working with the data using more refined biostats analysis to get an even better sense of how animals perceive habitat.

 WHERE:  29 N. Market St., Suite 610 (WNCA’s office). Volunteers will look over the data sheets and collect some memory cards. Volunteers can work with our Forest Keepers Coordinator Alexandra Guest, or on their own, depending on schedule flexibility and their confidence level in managing data.

 WHO: Anyone, particularly those interested in wildlife ecology and data management. This is a great resume builder for students, lifelong learners, etc. Volunteer collaborators’ names will be listed with the project when it’s presented by the USFS.

ITEMS NEEDED: Volunteers need a computer with photo software so that they can pull images off of an SD card. Nothing fancy (We use iPhoto). Also required: Excel and some proficiency using it.

Interested volunteers should contact WNCA Forest Keepers Coordinator Alex Guest at Alexandra@WNCA.org

 

princesstreeYes, we realize that princesses are usually a good thing (at least according to Disney), but when it comes to our natural world—not so much.

Therefore, our first Forest Keepers event of the season will focus on the removal of Princess trees in Linville Gorge. Princesses (Paulownia tomentosa) are non-native deciduous trees, which also happen to be the fastest growing trees in the world.

We’ll meet at 9 a.m. Oct. 19 at the Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center and carpool to Linville Gorge from there.

We’ll hike into a Princess-tree infested site that the U.S. Forest Service recently found and will use handsaws and pruners to cut down the trees, and also collect this season’s seeds to keep them from further invading the site. 

Many non-native invasive plants have faster growth rates and higher seed yields than native plants, and the competition for soil resources, light, and area is intense. Also, a number of these species are highly efficient in transporting their seeds and expanding their root systems.

It’s important to identify and manage heavy invasions to protect the great biodiversity we enjoy in Western North Carolina.

We need volunteers for this outing, hosted by our Forest Keepers program. It’s open to anyone who’s interested, although space is limited to eight people.

Volunteers will need hiking boots with ankle support for a six-mile moderate-to-strenuous hike in Linville. (It’s steep out there!) We’ll also work in a post-burn area so everyone should wear clothes that they don’t mind getting get dirty and sooty.

Bring at least two liters of water, lunch (and snacks as necessary) and extra layers.

Cameras are recommended (but not required) because the fall foliage is going to be spectacular and gawk-worthy.

All work equipment will be supplied!

If you want to volunteer, please contact WNCA Forest Keepers Coordinator Alex Guest by emailing Alexandra@WNCA.org or click HERE.

Date: Tuesday, Oct. 28

Time: 5 p.m.

Location: Asheville City Hall Building, 70 Court Plaza, Council Chambers

Duke Energy representatives will present an update to Asheville City Council on the future of the Asheville coal-fired power plant. Duke Energy is required to remove all the coal ash from the impoundments at the Asheville plant and is currently considering the option of retiring the plant.

Come to learn more and show your support as we call on Duke Energy to make the right decision for Western North Carolina and retire the coal plant.

AVLBeyondCoalFloat

Categories Events Calendar
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chief_bigOn Sept. 25, a legend and true warrior for environmental justice passed away. Lenny Kohm will be sorely missed by hundreds of friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

During the decades that he traveled across the country to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling and later to end mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, Lenny has touched the lives of tens of thousands of people.

A memorial service will be held in his honor at 3 p.m. Oct. 25 in Boone.

Click here to find out how you can join family and friends to celebrate the life, love, and legacy of the late, great Lenny Kohm.

 

Categories Events Calendar
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NantahalaNext round of public meetings set

The Forest Service will hold the next round of public meetings this October and November to share information about the proposed Nantahala and Pisgah National Forest Plan, including potential management areas and desired conditions.

The plan will guide management of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forests for the next 15-20 years.

The meeting will open with a presentation on significant issues, management areas, and the development of plan components. The Forest Service planning team will share some proposed desired condition statements and information about watersheds and recreation settings during an open poster session.

Each of the scheduled meetings will be from 4:30-7:30 p.m., will follow the same agenda and present the same information and opportunity for review and comment.

Meeting dates and locations:

  • Pisgah Ranger District: Oct. 21 at the Forge Valley Event Center in Mills River;
  • Nantahala Ranger District: Oct. 28 at the Tartan Hall in Franklin;
  • Appalachian Ranger District: Nov. 3 at Mars Hill College, Broyhill Chapel in Mars Hill;
  • Tusquitee Ranger District: Oct. 30 at the Tri-County Comm. College, Enloe Building in Murphy;
  • Cheoah Ranger District: Nov. 6 at the Graham County Community Center in Robbinsville;
  • Grandfather Ranger District: Nov. 13 at McDowell Tech. Comm. College, Room 113 in Marion

The Western North Carolina Alliance will be informing citizens and facilitating their participation in the plan revision process, which will occur over a three-to-four year period. It begins with the Assessment Phase, which will take about a year to complete. During this phase, the Forest Service will collect and compile data and other information on the current state of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. The Planning Phase, which follows the Assessment Phase, will take two to three years to complete. After the plan is completed, the Monitoring Phase will begin and continue until the next plan revision.

In the coming months, the Forest Service will provide details on meetings and other information that foster public participation in the plan revision process. Information about the plan revision process is available online here.

Originally published in 1987, the plan received a significant amendment in 1994. Each national forest and grassland is governed by a management plan in accordance with the National Forest Management Act. These plans set management, protection and use goals and guidelines.

The 2012 Planning Rule guides the planning process. The rule includes stronger protections for forests, water and wildlife, while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities. It requires the use of the best available scientific information to inform decisions. The 2012 rule strengthens the role of public involvement and dialogue throughout the planning process.

 

 

Categories News & Announcements, Stay Informed
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banner_02From the N.C . Department of Environment and Natural Resources

On Sept. 26, 2014, Duke Energy submitted draft plans for the assessment of groundwater at its 14 coal-fired power stations located in North Carolina.
The plans include proposed site assessment activities and a schedule for implementation, completion and submission of a comprehensive site assessment report for each of the facilities. The reports are required to provide information concerning:

  • the source and cause of contamination; any imminent hazards to public health and safety and actions taken to mitigate them;
  • the location of drinking water wells and other significant receptors where people could be exposed to groundwater contamination;
  • the horizontal and vertical extent of soil and groundwater contamination and significant factors that affect how the pollution moves;
  • and geological and hydrogeological features that affect the movement, chemical and physical character of the contaminants.

The staff with the N.C. Division of Water Resources will review the plans and approve them or provide Duke Energy with a deadline to correct any deficiencies. 
For each approved plan, the utility will have 180 days to provide the state with a report describing all exceedances of groundwater quality standards associated with each coal ash storage pond including the information described above.

Draft Plans – include the groundwater assessment plan and any accompanying map figures

Allen Steam Station - Assessment PlanMap (Fig. 3)

Asheville Steam Electric Power Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

Belews Creek Steam Station - Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Buck Steam Station – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Cape Fear Steam Electric Power Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

Cliffside Steam Station – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Dan River Steam Station - Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Lee Steam Electric Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 5); Map (Fig. 6)

Marshall Steam Station – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Mayo Steam Electric Power Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

Riverbend Steam Station – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 3)

Roxboro Steam Electric Power Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

Sutton Steam Electric Plant - Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

Weatherspoon Steam Electric Plant – Assessment Plan; Map (Fig. 4)

 

mark (2)Western North Carolina Alliance, Environmental and Conservation Organization and the Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance—three regional grassroots environmental organizations in the process of merging—are pleased to welcome Mark Stierwalt as director of their Southern Regional Office.

Stierwalt has taken over the position most recently held by Mary Jo Padgett, long-time executive director of Environmental and Conservation Organization. Padgett co-founded ECO in 1987 to preserve the natural heritage of Henderson County.

Stierwalt’s role is to ensure that the new organization’s Southern Regional Office continues to be a strong resource for the public on environmental issues and to engage, organize and lead the community in advocacy on local environmental issues, as well as on state and federal issues that are priorities for the organization.

“I’m excited to become an integral part of such a strong team,” Stierwalt said. “ECO’s success over the past 27 years has been hard fought and well deserved. The volunteers and supporters have made this organization what it is today, and I’m proud to carry the torch to help protect our heritage, our environment, and most importantly, our quality of life in WNC.”

Stierwalt lives with his wife and two children on a tributary of the Green River in southern Henderson County. He’s proud to call himself “a true woodsman and river dog,” though he spends most of his free time building and maintaining trails, mountain biking and skiing.

Stierwalt joins the organizations at a pivotal time. This past spring, the memberships and boards of directors of WNCA, based in Asheville; ECO, based in Hendersonville; and J-MCA, based in Highlands-Cashiers, voted to merge into a single environmental nonprofit whose staff and members would have greater impact locally, regionally and statewide.

These three organizations, each with deep roots and strong histories of environmental advocacy in their communities, are combining resources and expertise to attract new members and build a larger community of advocates for the protection of Western North Carolina’s precious natural resources and quality of life.

The Asheville office has also recently added Joan Walker as campaign coordinator for the region, and Sara Alford as director of development. Walker was most recently the high-risk energy coordinator with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, with a focus on coal ash issues in the Southeast. Alford brings a high level of fundraising expertise, having worked as the development officer for the Wildlife Conservation Society, promoting and raising funds for more than 450 programs and projects around the world.

Upon completion of the strategic planning and branding process for the newly created organization later this fall, the name and logo of Western North Carolina’s new voice for environmental advocacy will be announced.

The merged organization will have offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Boone and Franklin, allowing for increased engagement with communities across all of Western North Carolina.