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WNCA's Bob Gale works with a volunteer crew on exotic invasive plant removal at Richmond Hill Park.

WNCA’s Bob Gale works with a volunteer crew on exotic invasive plant removal.

The Western North Carolina Alliance, as a partner of the Southern Appalachian Cooperative Weed Management Partnership (SACWMP), needs volunteers to participate in daylong outing to  protect native plants from exotic invasions along the Appalachian Trail in Pisgah National Forest.

The outing will be from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4 along the A.T. at Mill Ridge (near Hot Springs).

We’ll give instruction on how to identify invasive exotic plants of concern in the Mill Ridge area, as well as how to use manual and chemical control methods. Then we’ll put these skills to work treating invasive plant species found along the Trail. 

SACWMP will provide all equipment needed for the event. Volunteers are asked to bring lunch, water, and rain gear, as well as sturdy hiking boots, long pants, and a long sleeve shirt. Carpooling is available from the Westgate Earth Fare shopping center in West Asheville, leaving at 9 a.m. and returning by 4 p.m.

Individuals or groups interested in volunteering should sign up through SignUp Genius.

If you have questions, contact WNCA Volunteer Coordinator Cynthia Camilleri by calling the WNCA office at (828) 258-8737, ext. 207 or emailing

We hope to see you there!

The Southern Appalachian Cooperative Weed Management Partnership members include the Western North Carolina Alliance, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Equinox Environmental Consultation & Design, National Forests in North Carolina, National Park Service, North Carolina Division of Forest Resources, and Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation and Development Council.  



This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. UN Secretary­ General Ban Ki-­moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we’ll take a stand to bend the course of history. We’ll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities. 

Click here for details about the People’s Climate March schedule of events.

To change everything, we need everyone on board. Sunday, Sept. 21 in New York City. Join us.

Reserve a seat on the bus from WNC to NYC for the march HERE.

For more information, you may contact Debby Genz by emailing:



Duke Energy’s coal-fired plant in Asheville

Legislature’s coal ash bill ensures cleanup only at Asheville and three other sites

While Asheville and three other sites across the state are winners in the coal ash bill adopted by the North Carolina legislature, overall the House and Senate have failed to deliver the comprehensive coal ash cleanup plan they promised at the outset of this legislative session. The bill makes strides with regard to these four disposal sites and on the future production and reuse of coal ash, but the bill could allow existing coal ash to remain in place at 10 facilities across North Carolina, where it’s polluting rivers, streams and groundwater.

The bill also attempts to roll back existing law that imposes clean up obligations on Duke Energy, made clear in a judge’s ruling earlier this year that explicitly gave state environmental officials the authority to force Duke to take immediate action to eliminate sources of groundwater contamination.

“The French Broad River is one of the few real winners in this bill,” said Hartwell Carson, French Broad Riverkeeper at the Western North Carolina Alliance. “The bill requires the coal ash lagoons at Duke Energy’s Asheville plant to be excavated and the ash moved to a lined facility that will stop it from contaminating ground water and the French Broad River. That’s great, but other communities in the state with coal ash ponds, including those around the Cliffside plant in Rutherford County, aren’t assured of the same protections.”

The bill requires Duke Energy to move ash from the Dan River, Riverbend, Sutton and Asheville facilities into lined landfills away from waterways. Duke had already publically committed to move ash at these four sites, three of which are sites where environmental groups threatened to sue Duke Energy and the fourth, Dan River, was the site of a massive coal ash spill in February.

The Alliance, along with the Sierra Club and the Waterkeeper Alliance and represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, initiated legal action at the Asheville plant early in 2013 after years of water monitoring and urging that the state and the federal Environmental Protection Agency take action. The Alliance is also party to litigation on Duke Energy’s Cliffside plant.

“We took legal action because the state refused to step up. In the wake of the Dan River spill, we hoped the legislature would impose strong cleanup requirements. But this bill doesn’t require Duke Energy to do anything to clean up coal ash beyond what it has already pledged to do,” Carson said. “Given the opportunity the legislature had, that isn’t much progress.”

The bill leaves decisions about clean up at Duke Energy’s other 10 coal ash disposal sites to the discretion of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and a newly created coal ash commission whose members are appointed by the legislature and the governor. These unlined coal ash pits are leaching arsenic, chromium, mercury, lead, cadmium and boron into rivers, streams and groundwater.

“DENR has worked hand and hand with Duke Energy to prevent cleanup of coal ash pollution for years, despite full knowledge of the problems. Granting this level of discretion to an agency with a history of putting the interests of Duke Energy above the public is a prescription for failure,” said Julie Mayfield, co-director at the Alliance.

“And in allowing for the possibility that some coal ash sites will be left in place in unlined pits, the legislature is attempting to roll back existing clean up requirements,” Mayfield said. “Why would our elected leaders put fewer requirements on Duke and leave communities across the state at risk? Every community deserves to be protected like Asheville.”

Also of great concern, the bill gives Duke Energy amnesty for leaks from its coal ash dams that flow directly into streams and rivers. Rather than requiring Duke to fix its leaking dams, the bill mirrors the sweetheart deal Duke negotiated with DENR last year – a deal DENR later withdrew – that shields Duke by permitting these uncontrolled discharges of contaminated wastewater. “The legislature should require Duke Energy clean up its leaking coal ash dams, not allow DENR to paper over Duke’s pollution,” Carson said.

On the positive side, the bill requires Duke Energy to transition from wet coal ash disposal to dry ash disposal at all of its facilities by 2019. That should reduce the likelihood of future contamination and the likelihood of a catastrophic dam failure.

The bill also imposes requirements on the use of coal ash as structural fill, similar to those in place at the Asheville airport project that has been using ash from the Asheville coal plant for several years. These requirements only apply to large coal ash fill projects, however, not all fill projects. And there are other positive provisions around public notification of spills, providing drinking water to impacted families, and groundwater monitoring.

“These are important, positive steps forward that will help prevent future contamination and protect impacted communities,” Mayfield said. “The legislature would have done better to adopt a similarly strong approach to dealing with existing contamination.”

The final bill also tightens a provision that allows Duke Energy to obtain a variance to clean up deadlines in the bill. The version adopted by the House had no criteria for granting the variance, allowing for the possibility that Duke could obtain variances at all of their sites and never actually clean up anything. The final bill limits the number of times Duke can request variances and time limits the deadline extensions.

Join our friends with A Greener Day­­, in conjunction with the Sierra Club and Clean Water for NC, for an abridged showing of “Gasland II” at 11:30 am. Sept. 8 at The Millroom, 66 Asheland Ave., in Asheville.

Gasland II chronicles some of the worst impacts of the natural gas extraction industry. The screening will be followed by a talk and discussion led by Sally Morgan of Clean Water for North Carolina, who will talk about fracking and what it means for us here in North Carolina.
Please RSVP here, to help us figure out how much food we need!
(Iced herbal tea will be provided by Green Sage Cafe.)

News release from Buncombe County:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) will hold a listening session to solicit input from community members regarding the EPA’s communication with residents impacted by the CTS of Asheville Superfund Site. Comments must address communications that occurred after January 2012 related to:

  • Site sampling and monitoring.
  • Schedules and milestones for planned and completed site activities.
  • Site cleanup progress to date.
  • Safeguards in place for protecting human health as cleanup activities continue.

Thursday, August 21, 6 – 8 p.m.
T.C. Roberson High School Auditorium
250 Overlook Road, Asheville
All local residents are invited to share their experiences.

Each community member will be given three minutes to speak on the specified subject areas – with the possibility of additional time after all others have spoken. The OIG requests that participants follow a few ground rules: (1) Avoid talking while others are speaking, (2) Refrain from personal confrontations or attacks, and (3) Respect agreements about time. The OIG will hear oral statements and collect supporting documentation to aid in determining whether the EPA has been communicating as required and if communication has been timely. A comment box also will be made available to submit written statements.

On July 22, 2014, the OIG announced a review of CTS site sampling, monitoring, communication and opportunities for site cleanup efficiencies. The OIG is an independent office within the EPA that performs audits, evaluations and investigations of the EPA and its contractors to promote economy and efficiency, and to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse. Through program evaluation work, the OIG contributes to improved environmental quality and human health. The OIG strives to provide solutions to problems that ultimately result in making America a cleaner and healthier place.

For more information about the OIG, visit and follow us on Twitter at @EPAoig.

Categories Stay Informed
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Would you or someone you know like to be considered for a leadership position at the only grassroots environmental advocacy group focused solely on conserving Western North Carolina’s natural heritage?

We are looking for candidates to fill four positions on the board of this newly merged organization that includes the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA), the Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO), and the Jackson Macon Conservation Alliance (JMCA) beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

Board members ensure that the organization continues to be well managed and remains fiscally sound. Members also support the organization by raising money, bringing contacts to the organization and acting as ambassadors to the community.

We are seeking candidates who:

  • Bring geographic and much-needed racial diversity to the composition of our leadership
  • Are well networked in the community
  • Are strategic thinkers
  • Have skills and experience that will benefit the organization especially in accounting/finance, fundraising, communications, and legal
  • Will commit the necessary time (i.e. attend bi-monthly meetings, serve on subcommittees and attend events)

Nomination Guidelines:

Nominations must be submitted to WNCA Co-Director Bob Wagner at by Aug. 31.

In your nomination, please include the person’s name, contact information (email, phone), county they live in, and one to two paragraphs describing why you are nominating this person.

It is not necessary to contact the person prior to submitting their nomination. The Governance Committee will follow up with you and the nominee.

asheville green drinksWNCA and Sierra Club will present an Asheville Green Drinks program focused on solid waste reduction and composting in Asheville with Maggie Ullman, Asheville’s chief sustainability officer and Eric Bradford of Asheville Greenworks at 7 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 1 Edwin Place at the intersection of Charlotte Street.

Green Drinks is free and open to the public. For more information, email or call (828) 683-2176


Categories Events Calendar
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watauga river gorge

Watauga River Gorge

The Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) is seeking an individual to serve as both Regional Director and Watauga Riverkeeper in its high country regional office based in Boone. 

For more than 30 years, WNCA has been a trusted community partner, marshaling grassroots support to keep our forests healthy, our air and water clean, and our communities vibrant. With a combination of policy advocacy, scientific research, and community collaboration, the Alliance unleashes the power of citizens’ voices to protect the natural heritage of our region, so that people and the environment can thrive.

Regional offices serve the following functions in their respective regions:

  • To be a resource for the public on environmental issues
  • To engage, organize, and lead citizens in work/advocacy on local environmental issues and on state and federal issues that are priorities for the organization
  • To organize membership outreach events
  • To build and maintain relationships with major donors

The Watauga Riverkeeper serves the following functions in its watershed:

  • To be a public advocate for the watershed with government agencies, partner groups, the community, and the media, including taking these stakeholders on the river as needed and  monitoring, investigating, documenting, and reporting harmful activity
  • To create programs and initiatives to improve the watershed and to recruit and manage volunteers to support those programs
  • To work in partnership with other NC Riverkeepers on statewide initiatives and the Waterkeeper Alliance on national campaigns that relate to the Watauga River watershed
  • To actively seek funding to support Riverkeeper programs and initiatives

To fulfill their duties, the Regional Director/Riverkeeper should be:

  • Passionate and committed to preserving the environment, fluent on environmental issues (particularly water), and able to teach and engage people on these issues
  • Able to organize, coordinate, and lead people toward a common goal
  • Comfortable engaging and leading citizens in policy advocacy at all levels of government
  • Comfortable working with a range of people and interests
  • Able to build relationships with major donors and other funders
  • Able to coordinate with staff working in other locations
  • Able to formulate for the region yearly goals, benchmarks, and operating budget.

Therefore, the following are requirements for the Regional Director/Riverkeeper:

  • Significant experience with watershed science, stream ecology, Clean Water Act enforcement, environmental policy, or other relevant areas such as conservation, water access and recreation, or environmental advocacy
  • Experience in community organizing, membership development, campaigns, or other position requiring coordination of people
  • Experience paddling and ability to safely take others on the river
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Good decision-making, problem-solving and interpersonal skills
  • Teaching skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team as well as independently
  • Ability to work on many projects at once and maintain attention to details
  • Ability to work across political, social, and economic lines
  • A bachelor’s degree

The following are preferred:

  • Master’s degree or other advanced degree in a field related to the environment
  • Advocacy experience
  • Fundraising or membership outreach experience
  • Familiarity with Waterkeeper grassroots model and movement
  • Experience with online communications tools and video technology

Competitive salary commensurate with experience and excellent benefits package.

How to apply:

Send cover letter, resume and three references to Julie Mayfield, Co-Director,

Subject line should read: “Regional Director/Watauga Riverkeeper.”

Application deadline:  Aug. 31, 2014


OLLI_UNCA_v03This fall, join Western North Carolina Alliance staffers and the College for Seniors (CFS) for a six-week course on the Ecology of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.

CFS is a program of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (formerly OLLI), established in 1988. With full access to the resources of the University of North Carolina at Asheville, participation in classes helps members keep mentally and physically fit. CFS draws from members’ experiences and professional expertise as well as from the UNC Asheville and surrounding faculty to offer four terms each year. Courses range from Chaucer to computers, foreign affairs to opera, yoga to history. Held mostly on the UNC Asheville campus, courses are non-credit, with no tests or grades, open to all interested adults. Members collaborate with staff to teach, learn, design curricula and arrange special events.

Our course will explore the uniqueness of the southern Appalachians Mountains, the oldest and most bio-diverse mountains in the world. Each week, a WNCA instructor will present on his/her area of expertise in the classroom and then lead a related field trip the following Saturday. The field trips will be within a 30-minute drive of Asheville.

We will cover the geology, hydrology, climatology, biology and human ecology of our region.

Important Dates & Registration:

Fall term registration is held on Aug. 13.; Fall term dates are Sept. 15-Nov. 7.

Our classes will be Wednesday mornings from 9 – 11 a.m. on the following dates:

Sept. 17 and Sept. 24

Oct. 1, 8, 15, and 22

To register, please click here and scroll about halfway down the page.

Categories Events Calendar, Trips & Outings
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Do you want to take your environmental engagement to the next level and become an environmental advocate inside of government?

If so, consider applying for a seat on the Henderson County Environmental Advisory Committee, which advises the Board of Commissioners on matters of environmental quality.

The committee is expected to begin work on several new issues this fall. 

There are three open seats, and applications are being accepted now.

 Committee members are appointed by the Commissioners. The committee meets quarterly on the first Thursday at 3 p.m. in the conference room at 100 N. King St.

For more information, click here or contact Henderson County environmental programs coordinator Rachel Hodge at (828) 694-6524 or

 To access the online application, go here.

Categories Stay Informed
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