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OLLI_UNCA_v03This fall, from Sept. 16 – Nov. 8, 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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After requests from individuals, organizations and businesses in Western North Carolina, the Mining and Energy Commission has voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) rules in this part of the state.

Public hearings on rules that will regulate fracking were already scheduled in three locations across the state: Raleigh, Sanford, and Reidsville — all more than a four-hour drive from the mountains, where the state will spend $11,725 exploring for natural gas.

Date: Sept. 12
Time: 5-9 p.m.
Location: Western Carolina University’s Bardo Fine & Performing Arts Center, 199 Centennial Drive, Cullowhee

The concern about fracking in the mountains was galvanized by the passage this summer of Senate Bill 786, which lifted the moratorium on issuing state permits for hydraulic fracturing for gas, possibly as soon as next spring.

Fracking is a process using high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in underground shale formations.

WNCA and our environmental partners are concerned about risks of fracking, including  the potential contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the potential migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, the potential mishandling of waste, and the health effects of these

The MEC is expected to finalize the oil and gas rules before the end of 2014, with possible issuance of permits by spring of 2015.

Look for more information from us as the hearing date approaches.

[Charlotte Sierra Club]

[Charlotte Sierra Club]

Some 1,600 expected to speak at hearings across the country

ASHEVILLE—On June 2, President Obama and the EPA announced the first-ever carbon pollution limits on all existing power plants. It’s the most important climate action of his presidency, because power plants are America’s single largest source of extreme-weather intensifying, public-health threatening carbon pollution.

The EPA has scheduled four public hearings across the country—in Pittsburgh, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta—to give people the opportunity to give oral testimony on the new carbon standards.

On July 29, concerned citizens from Western North Carolina will travel to Atlanta to give formal comments supporting the EPA’s proposed carbon pollution limits at the hearing in the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center.

A busload of area activists will leave Asheville at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday from Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center. A press conference, rally and a march will be held in Atlanta outside the hearings. The bus will return to Asheville by midnight.

 “We need to tell the EPA that limiting carbon from power plants is the fastest way to tackle climate disruption,” said Anna Jane Joyner, campaign coordinator with Western North Carolina Alliance. “The coal-fired power plant in Asheville is the largest single contributor to climate disruption in our mountains, releasing carbon dioxide into the air every year equivalent to 500,000 cars on the road. This is not just an environmental problem, it’s a public health issue and it’s an economic issue.”

The EPA says it anticipates hearing oral comments from about 1,600 people.

Anyone interested in getting a seat on the bus from Asheville to Atlanta should go to: 

The cost is $10, plus a small processing fee.

People also can comment on the EPA’s proposal online or by email, fax or letter. EPA says it considers all comments equally, no matter how they are submitted.

The comment period on the proposed carbon pollution limits rule is open until Oct. 16.

Complete information on the various ways to comment can be found at:



The French Broad Riverkeeper’s best friend, June Bug, keeps watch on the water.

WNCA is looking for a volunteer with graphic design experience to help create a State of the River Report for Henderson County.

You’ll work directly with French Broad Riverkeeper to distill data from current reports into a simple, attractive and easy to understand information graphic for the general public to consume.

Examples of previous reports will be provided.

If you’re interested, please contact Allie Nightingale at


nokxlpicWNCA is pleased to announce its newest program, the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina (CCAWNC), focused on faith-inspired environmental advocacy.

CCAWNC is a network of people of faith and congregations who work to bring practical and hopeful solutions to their congregations and to broader secular communities by engaging hearts and minds through education, service and advocacy.

“We are so happy that the Creation Care Alliance has chosen to be part of WNCA,” said Julie Mayfield, co-director of Western North Carolina Alliance. “We have worked closely with them for more than two years and have effectively supported each other’s efforts. CCA brings a vital and unique voice to environmental advocacy and education, and we help inform and focus their voice to be as strategic as possible.”

CCAWNC began in April 2012 as “WNC Green Congregations,” which was supported from the start by staff and resources at WNCA.

The group identified “food and faith” and “just energy/climate change” as its primary focus areas and has, among many initiatives, hosted two “Care of Creation” Earth Day vigils; delivered a letter with 73 local clergy signatories to Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good calling on the company to retire the Asheville coal plant from a moral and spiritual perspective; and hosted a “Climate and Faith Forum” last month to train and equip 100 clergy and lay leaders with the practical skills and the spiritual, scientific, and policy knowledge needed to become climate change advocates and leaders.

Creation Care Alliance is seeking supporters to invest in its work so a director can be hired to take its efforts to a new, and even more effective, level. The goal is to raise $29,500 by the end of August.

CCA has several events planned over the next year, such as hosting additional clergy gatherings and public educational events and panels, an inaugural “creation care” outing and service project, a local foods potluck with an educational component, a second Climate and Faith Forum and a third annual Care of Creation Earth Day Vigil.

Get involved with CCA at or by contacting WNCA Campaign Coordinator Anna Jane Joyner at (828) 258-8737, ext. 210.

fbrpadappWestern North Carolina Alliance is pleased to announce the launch of the French Broad River Paddle Trail App, sponsored by our friends at Oskar Blues Brewery.

To download it today, text “paddle” to “77000” to view a map featuring campsites, access points, outfitters, restaurants and more.

The French Broad River Paddle Trail App will keep you up to date on French Broad events, send river reports, and help you make a reservation on the French Broad River PaddleTrail, a series of campsites and access points that link more than 140 miles of the French Broad River from Rosman, N.C., to Douglas Lake, Tenn.

We’ll celebrate the launch of the app and our partnership with Oskar Blues Brewery from 5:30-8 p.m., July 30 at the brewery’s facility in Brevard (342 Mountain Industrial Drive).

There will be live music, a food truck, Oskar Blues’ craft beer, and WNCA staff members who can share more information about the world-class French Broad River PaddleTrail, which officially opened in 2012.

Those who download the app can enter a raffle at the party to win a watershed dry bag and a waterproof Paddle Trail map.

The Oskar Blues trolley will be available from Asheville, leaving from the Aloft Hotel (51 Biltmore Ave.) at 5:30 p.m., and returning to the Aloft around 9 p.m. The trolley is free, but you must RSVP for a seat to

The French Broad River Paddle Trail project was born out of the public’s desire to explore the entire French Broad River by boat and WNCA made that possible, as the entiretrail is composed of paddle-in-only campsites.

Learn more about the French Broad River Paddle Trail at

Learn more about Oskar Blues Brewery at

Download the French Broad River Paddle Trail App here:

For Android phones:

For iPhones:



For more than 30 years, the Western North Carolina Alliance has been a trusted community partner, marshaling grassroots support to keep our forests healthy, our air and water clean, and our communities vibrant. Utilizing a combination of policy advocacy, scientific research, and community collaboration, the Alliance and its chapters throughout Western North Carolina unleash the power of citizens’ voices to protect the natural heritage of our region so that people and the environment can thrive. For more information, please visit


About Oskar Blues Brewery

Founded as a brewpub by Dale Katechis in 1997, Oskar Blues Brewery launched the craft beer-in-a-can apocalypse in 2002 using a tabletop machine that sealed one can at a time. In 2008, the makers of the top-selling pale ale in ColoRADo, Dale’s Pale Ale, moved into a 35,000-square-foot facility in Longmont, ColoRADo. The brewery has since experienced explosive growth—packaging 59,000 barrels of beer in 2011 and 86,750 barrels in 2012. In December of 2012, Oskar Blues opened the doors to an additional brewery in Brevard, North Carolina. Together, the breweries packaged 119,000 barrels of beer in 2013, and now distribute their trailblazing craft brews to 35 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.



George Masa [wikipedia photo]

George Masa [wikipedia photo]

Join WNCA and our partners at ECO for an evening with filmmaker Paul Bonesteel and his film “The Mystery of George Masa.”

The event is a fundraiser for ECO, and will be July 28 at Blue Ridge Community College in the McIntosh Room (Blue Ridge Conference Center, 180 West Campus Drive, Blue Ridge Community College, Flat Rock).

Time and Cost: 

  • 6 p.m., July 28: Reception with talk by Bonesteel, catered by Purple Onion restaurant; wine, and Highland Brewing Co., beer, and reserved seating for film — $40 per person
  • 7 p.m. July 28: Film showing of “The Mystery of George Masa.” — $15 per person for film only

 Reservations must be received at the ECO office by July 23.

Your check made out to ECO with “Bonesteel Event” in the memo line, will be your reservation.

Include a note with the number in your party, indicating for the reception or film only, and your contact information.  Seating is limited. Mail checks to ECO, 611 N. Church St., Suite 101, Hendersonville, NC  28792.

Call the office at 692-0385 or email  if you have questions.

“The Mystery of George Masa” is the story of Masahar Iizuka, aka George Masa, an enigmatic Japanese artist who in the 1920s contributed to the preservation of the Great Smoky Mountains and the creation of the Appalachian Trail with his photography and passion for nature. This heavily researched film was originally released in 2003 on PBS and broadcast again in 2009, in celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

One critic said, “A mysterious and fascinating story about a passionate artist and his adopted homeland. It will resonate in you for years.”

Bonesteel was born and raised in Hendersonville.  His mother, Georgia, was widely known for her popular show “QuiltingWith Georgia Bonesteel,” which ran for several years on UNC-TV. The family owned Bonesteel Hardware in Hendersonville.  Paul has become a respected documentary filmmaker in his own right.  He produced “The Day Carl Sandburg Died,” a documentary film about Carl Sandburg, who lived and died in Flat Rock. That film has also shown on PBS. His company, Bonesteel Films, is located in downtown Asheville.

“Paul’s passion for capturing in film the Appalachian heritage of nature and history is reflected in this extraordinary documentary,” said Mary Jo Padgett, ECO’s Executive Director. “When I was first introduced to Mr. Masa through this film, I knew I had learned about an important page of local history.  What events led to the creation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a World Heritage Site in our own backyard?  This well-done film tells us much we didn’t know.”

This event is underwritten by Holly Spring Nursery to support ECO’s projects and programs.


Categories Events Calendar, Uncategorized
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[Charlotte Sierra Club]

[Charlotte Sierra Club]

On June 2, President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a historic plan to cut carbon pollution and stop the worst effects of climate disruption. The Clean Power Plan is our nation’s first major action to cut dangerous carbon pollution from our largest polluters, 30 percent by 2030, and will help spur a clean energy economy that can drive down electricity bills and create hundreds of thousands of dependable jobs.This is the beginning of what could be the biggest climate fight in U.S. history. The proposed plan is already under attack by the fossil fuel industry, whose proponents are mobilizing like never before to send their lobbyists to Washington.

On July 29, EPA will host the first of just four national hearings on the proposed Clean Power Plan in Atlanta.

Let’s show the world that the Southeast is ready for serious action to stop climate disruption!

Asheville Logistics:

Depart Asheville: 5:30 a.m. from Westgate Shopping Center

Arrive ATL:  9 a.m.

Depart ATL: 8 p.m.

Arrive Asheville: no later than 12 a.m.

Public comments will be taken at EPA from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Details here.

Press Conference At Sam Nunn Federal Building at 10 a.m.

Rally for Clean Energy Future at noon in Woodruff Park

March for Climate Justice at 1 p.m. from Woodruff Park to Sam Nunn Federal Building

If you have questions about the Asheville to Atlanta bus for the hearing, contact Emma Greenbaum. 
Categories Events Calendar, Uncategorized
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ncdenrPress release from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

RALEIGH – Officials with the state Mining and Energy Commission are seeking public input on proposed rules for regulating oil and gas development in North Carolina.

Written comments from the public will be accepted at three public hearings and may also be submitted at any time July 15 – Sept. 15. Hard copy written comments should be sent to:

Oil and Gas Program
DENR-Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources
1612 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1612

Written comments may also be submitted electronically through the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources website at:

The public hearings are scheduled for:
• 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Aug. 20 at the McKimmon Center, 1101 Gorman St., Raleigh
• 5‒9 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Wicker Center, 1801 Nash St., Sanford
• 5– 9 p.m. Aug. 25 at Rockingham High School, 180 High School Rd., Reidsville

The complete text of the proposed rules and proposed revisions to existing rules are available online at:

The public comment period ends at 5 p.m. Sept. 15.