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November 25, 2014
Re: Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602

Dear Administrator McCarthy:

On behalf of the members and board of the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA), I [Co-Director Julie Mayfield], submit these comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule (CPP).

We fully support the CPP as a commonsense plan to address coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

These rules are urgently needed to protect the planet as a whole and specifically the ecosystems,
communities and local economies of Western North Carolina.

Click here to download and read the full letter.

 

Categories News & Announcements, Stay Informed
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We are ‘MountainTrue’!

MountainTrue_logo_tag
At the Nov. 20 Annual Fall Gathering, the boards and members of WNCA, ECO and Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance enthusiastically agreed to move forward as one united organization: MountainTrue. The merger and name change will become official on Jan. 1, 2015.
We are very grateful to the more than 100 people who came to celebrate this historic moment with us and to all those who took part in the voting process that has allowed us to move forward as a larger, stronger regional organization. Together, we are committed to protecting the natural resources of North Carolina’s beautiful mountain communities.
Thank you for your support and membership!  
We look forward to many more years of partnership and success. And we pledge to always remain loyal to, devoted to, and protective of our mountains.

We are MountainTrue!

Categories News & Announcements, Stay Informed
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Dec. 13: Help the Hemlocks!

HemlocksOn Saturday, December 13th, the Forest Keepers will be planting hemlock trees with the Forest Service Southern Research Station. Here in the mountains and and all over the east, a pest known as hemlock wooly adelgid has devastated hemlock stands. The research station recently received 800 hemlock saplings and they need our help planting! These trees will inform ongoing research about how to defend the hemlocks against the adelgid and will be part of a major hemlock restoration effort. We have the honor to part of the solution for these beloved trees!

We will be planting from 10 AM to 4 PM and you have the chance to choose if you would like to plant in the morning or afternoon. You can plant all day if you want to as well! We’ll be meeting at 9 AM at the Southern Research Station (200 W.T. Weaver Boulevard, Asheville, NC 28804) and will be back by 5 PM. DuPont is an hour drive south of Asheville, so morning planters should plan to be out from 9 AM to 1 PM and likewise, afternoon planters will be out from 1 PM to 5 PM. We’ll switch over at lunch.

Please bring a shovel and work gloves if you have them. No tree planting experience necessary! You will need to bring lunch, 2 liters of water, hiking boots, and please dress in layers. Winter seems to have already arrived! If you have any questions, feel free to email me at Alexandra@WNCA.org.

Click [HERE] to register!

Dec. 11: Upcycle Your Holiday!

Christmas WasteDecember is a time for gifts of all kinds to be flying off the shelves in excitement and good intention.  The unfortunate reality of the season, is that the rapid flux of items out of stores is balanced by a rapid flux of items into a pile outside of our own city.  It takes some conscientious thinking, but anyone can get a smarter, more creative, more unique gifter.

Join WNCA on Thursday, December 11th for a tour designed for rethinking seasonal consumerism. We will get a visual of the amount of waste we create as a community at the landfill and recycling center, and finish at Common Ground Upcycle Emporium and Resource Center, where we will learn about our options in keeping our goods out of the landfill, and in creating new treasures for our friends and family. There will be a chance to shop for gifts at the end of the tour.

Please wear warm clothing, and bring water and snacks if you wish. Homemade granola bars will be provided. We will begin at 10:00AM and end around 1:00PM. This tour is FREE and ALL AGES are welcome. Registration is required at tinyurl.com/UpcycleYourHolidayContact: Rachel Stevens (843) 258-8737, rachel@wnca.org

 

WhatFir!Join the WNC Alliance on Sunday December 7th for a tour of  a truly green Christmas tree farm, What Fir! Tree Farm.

We’ll meet at the What Fir! Tree Farm at 11AM, and owner Nathaniel Maram will take us on a tour of the farm and share a history of its transition to natural growing practices.

The What Fir! Tree Farm offers the option to buy a Christmas tree grown without the use of synthesized chemicals. What Fir! has not used any pesticides or herbicides for five years, and the abundance of Fraser Firs on the tree farm are evidence of the success of organic farming practices.

What Fir! is located on 50 acres outside Boone. Visiting the farm can be a great day-long event that includes choosing your own tree, taking a hayride, hiking, sledding, shopping for wreaths and other Christmas decorations, and enjoying a cup of warm cider.

Wear warm clothes and bring equipment needed for you to bring a tree home if desired!

Free! All Ages!

Carpool from Asheville: 9:00AM Earth Fare at the Westgate Shopping Center

RSVP: tinyurl.com/WhatFir

Contact: Rachel Stevens at rachel@wnca.org or by calling (828) 258-8737, ext 215.

AVLBeyondCoalFloatJoin us on Dec. 4 for the “New Mountain Climate Bash” at New Mountain Asheville!

This bash celebrates both local music and Asheville Beyond Coal’s efforts to fight climate disruption and to stop the poisoning of our rivers from toxic coal ash. 

Line-up includes:

Alex Krug of Alex Krug music
CaroMia
Chelsea LaBate of Ten Cent Poetry
Daniel Shearin of Daniel Shearin Music
Dulci Ellenberger of Sweet Claudette
Eleanor Underhill and Molly Rose of Underhill Rose
Eric Janoski of Mother Explosives
Franklin Keel, Ryan Kijanka, and Gabrielle Tee of The Scenic Routes
Jon Stickley of the Jon Stickley Trio
Mary Ellen Davis
Pancho Romero Bond, Xavier Ferdon, and Franklin Keel of Sirius.B
Ryan Furstenburg & Melissa Hyman of The Moon and You
Stephanie Morgan of stephaniesid

Doors open at 7 p.m..

Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door, plus $5 student tickets with ID at the door.

All proceeds will benefit Asheville Beyond Coal’s efforts to protect our mountains and planet!

Click here for more info!

 

 

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At the joint annual gathering on Nov. 20 of Environmental and Conservation Organization, Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance, members took the final votes to make our merger as MountainTrue legally effective. 

 The documents approved were the following:

-          The Merger Resolution, which states the approval of the boards and memberships to merge.  This will also contain the list of board members for the merged organization once that list is approved at the annual gathering.

-          The Plan of Merger, which states that the separate existence of each organization will cease as of Dec. 31, at 11:59 p.m.  The surviving corporation will be WNCA’s corporate form.

-          Restated Articles of Incorporation that will become effective immediately after the merger and change the name of the surviving corporation.

-          The Bylaws of the newly merged organization.

All of these documents will be filed with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office after the annual gathering, along with required cover forms for the Plan of Merger and the Restated Articles of Incorporation.

If you have any questions about the documents or the merger, please contact WNCA Co-Director Julie Mayfield at Julie@WNCA.org.

 

logging memePress Release from the Southern Environmental Law Center
For Release: November 12, 2014
Contact: Kathleen Sullivan, SELC, 919-945-7106 or ksullivan@selcnc.org

Forest Service proposes massive logging program in an area bigger than the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—In what conservation groups flag as a dramatic shift, the U.S. Forest Service is proposing industrial-scale logging in the vast majority of the Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest in western North Carolina – about 700,000 acres, or an area bigger than the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – instead of protecting popular backcountry recreation destinations and conserving the Blue Ridge landscapes treasured by residents and tourists from across the United States.

“Under the law and for everyone who enjoys America’s forests, the Forest Service’s first priority should be fixing the mistakes of the past – restoring the parts of the forest already damaged by prior logging,” said DJ Gerken, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center. “But the misguided logging plan proposed by the agency will repeat those old mistakes, causing more damage and putting the healthiest forests we have left on the chopping block. The people who use and love these forests won’t stand for cutting them down.”

The Forest’s new proposal would inevitably increase logging over the levels of recent years, though the precise amount has not been disclosed. “This increase would come from ramping up logging all over the forest, including backcountry areas like the South Mills River area, home to the popular Black Mountain Trail,” said Hugh Irwin, conservation planner for The Wilderness Society. According to Forest Service documents, such areas would be managed for “timber production,” which it interprets as “the purposeful growing and harvesting of crops of trees to be cut into logs.”

This industrial-style logging would also require cutting new roads for trucks and equipment into sensitive, unspoiled backcountry areas. “Not only is that destructive and disruptive, it’s also fiscally irresponsible,” added Irwin. “The agency shouldn’t be expanding its road system when it can’t even afford to maintain the roads it already has.” Agency reports confirm that the Forest has less than 13 percent of the funds needed to maintain its existing roads, leading to safety and water quality problems. Several popular roads remain closed due to unrepaired washouts.

“This proposal is absolutely the wrong direction for the forest,” said Ben Prater, director of conservation for Wild South. “Times have changed, and our mountain economy doesn’t depend just on logging anymore. We should be capitalizing on our wonderful Blue Ridge forests, not cutting them down. Treating practically the entire Pisgah-Nantahala as a ‘crop’ is simply irresponsible.”

The Pisgah-Nantahala National Forest has become a tourism and recreation destination, and revenue generated by visitors is a major driver of the western North Carolina economy. The National Forests of North Carolina are the third most visited national forest in the country. Industrial logging not only damages scenery and natural features, which are the key draw for half of those visits, but also requires popular areas to be closed to the public for months at a time while trees are being cut. “They’re our public lands,” says Prater. “Where is the balance?”

Josh Kelly, public lands biologist for the Western North Carolina Alliance, calls the proposal a “missed opportunity.” According to Kelly, “the Forest Service could sell more timber, meet game wildlife goals for hunters, and fulfill its ecological responsibilities by focusing its limited budget on restoring degraded areas with existing road access. We have a historic opportunity to care for this forest like it deserves – a real win-win solution – but if the Plan is mired in conflict, none of that work will get done.”

Public participation is important to the planning process underway, in which the U.S. Forest Service will decide how to manage the Pisgah and National Forests for the next 15 years.

TAKE ACTION TO STOP THIS PROPOSAL BY CLICKING HERE NOW!

The public can also comment by email at NCplanrevision@fs.fed.us.

The Forest Service will also hold a public meeting with opportunities for public questions and comments at the McDowell Technical Community College in Marion, N.C. on Thursday, Nov. 13.

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The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC’s team of more than 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.
www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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.

Categories Stay Informed, Take Action
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sierranevadaJoin us on Nov. 15 as we tour Sierra Nevada’s new brewery, nestled in our Appalachian backyard in Mills River! The tour will be from 1-3:30 p.m. and is open to those ages 12 and up (but the tasting is open only to those age 21 and older).

The tour is free, but registration is required. Click here to register.

We’ll meet in the main lobby 15 minutes before the tour starts (12:45 p.m.).

What to Expect:
Brewhouse Tour: Navigate entire beer making process, getting an up close look at every detail. Rub some aromatic whole-cone hops in your palms, gaze into brewing vessels and stroll through the celler under the fermentation tanks.

Grand Tasting: Participate in two-ounce education tasting of eight varieties of Sierra Nevada beer while overlooking their open fermenters

Sustainability Tour: Go behind the scenes with WNCA and check out what makes Sierra Nevada a sustainable business, as they finish their mindful construction with impressive environmental efforts embedded in every step of the process.

What to Bring/Wear:
Closed-toed shoes
Personal dentification if you’d like to participate in the tasting

 

Categories Events Calendar, Trips & Outings
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tributaryStarting Nov. 15, you can enjoy a delicious imperial brett saison beer-aptly named “Tributary”– a portion of whose sales proceeds will benefit our French Broad Riverkeeper program.

Tributary is a collaboration between New Belgium and Wicked Weed Brewing. Brewed with wild yeast, hops, barley and water from both Colorado and North Carolina, this heavily hopped saison perfectly blends both breweries’ love of creativity and native ingredients.

This special beer will be available only at Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium, located at 147 Coxe Ave.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Nov. 15, volunteers can join Wicked Weed, New Belgium and Riverkeeper staff at the Funkatorium in a service project to help stencil “No Dumping” on drains in the South Slope area.

All volunteers will be invited to meet back at the Funkatorium to join the public for tapping of Tributary at 2 p.m.

Live music will play from 2 – 5 p.m. and New Belgium and Wicked Weed staff will be on hand with additional festivities. All ages are welcome.

To volunteer for the service project, email Assistant French Broad Riverkeeper Anna Alsobrook at Anna@WNCA.org.

WNCA is very honored and excited to be the beneficiary of this collaboration.

“Tributary beer represents the importance of clean water for our community,” says French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson. “Clean water is not just an environmental issue, but an economic issue that we should all be concerned about.”