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Archive for the ‘environment’ Category

Asheville’s WNC Alliance Wins Statewide Innovation Award

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) was recognized for its “exemplary performance in innovation” and awarded $10,000 from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation at the North Carolina Conservation Network’s Annual Retreat in Raleigh.

The foundation gave WNCA its annual Community TIEs Award based on the group’s innovative approach of working with federal and state agencies, private companies, and other non-profits and involving volunteers in invasive exotic plant species control and native habitat restoration efforts on vulnerable public lands in Western North Carolina. Criteria for the top innovative program included the use of new and different solutions to combat old challenges.

“The innovation category traditionally receives the most applications from competing groups,” WNCA Executive Director Julie Mayfield commented, “so we are particularly honored to be chosen for this award, and we are grateful for the $10,000 gift.”

Excessive growth of exotic invasive plants is ranked second only to habitat destruction as a threat to wildlife. To combat this growing problem, WNCA and its partners launched this program in 2004, and since then the program has:

– Trained close to 200 volunteers in identification, inventory methods, and control methods of nearly a dozen invasive exotic plants;
Coordinated over 1,300 volunteer hours over 29 days across 25 miles of trails and roads in national forests and national parks;

– Coordinated control work on over 13,000 square feet in the Sandy Bottom ecosystem in Asheville to directly benefit endangered Bog Turtles and diverse salamander species;

– Planted over 150 mixed-hardwood trees for habitat restoration; and Educated over 300 other citizens through presentations to various organizations, schools, and garden clubs.

“Our success is measured not only in the hard numbers of miles and acres controlled, but also in the knowledge volunteers take back with them to their yards, their neighborhoods, and their local parks,” said WNCA Ecologist Bob Gale, who manages the program. “WNCA is proud to use this innovative and scientific approach to continue to improve our region’s most ecologically sensitive areas.”

Other partners in the program are Equinox Environmental Consulting and Design, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Southern Appalachian Man and Biosphere, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and North Carolina Department of Transportation.

WNCA is a 27-year old environmental group that empowers citizens to advocate for livable communities and the natural environment of Western North Carolina. For more information on upcoming WNCA activities, call the office at 828-258-8737 in Asheville.

Bears Spotted in Asheville

Friday, August 1st, 2008
Brown Bear

Asheville has seen record numbers of bear sightings this summer, due to heat and food shortages. Citizens have called animal control to report at least ten bears in the past week alone. Most sightings have been in east and south Asheville areas.

The heat this summer has made the animals very much more active than normal, and while they are in this active state, they tend to journey much farther than normal to search for food.

Though there have been no accidents (besides overturned trash cans) animal control is still encouraging locals to be vigilant.

Asheville to see more air quality warnings this summer

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Asheville may have more days this summer of poor air quality. Changes to the official national air quality standard have lowered the amount of ozone in the air to constitute air quality warnings.

The EPA adopted the new standard to update measurements with new research on air quality and public health. It is expected that Asheville will see a substantial increase in "orange days." Forecasts started on April 15th and will end on September 1st. For updated daily forecasts, visit ncair.org.

On code orange days, children, the elderly and anyone with heart or respiratory disease such as asthma should limit their physical activity.

Southern Living’s Eco-Friendly House

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Southern Living has chosen eco-friendly community Whisper Mountain located just outside Asheville to build their 2008 Green Idea House.

The architect has drawn up a traditional farmhouse, and visitors will be given tours to learn about building green homes. The contractor is EcoBuilders and features will include solar panels, a gray water system and radiant-heated floors.

While the house is being constructed, on-site recycling is being implemented as well as the use of non-toxic materials and locally made building materials. The house’s energy recovery ventilator draws in filtered air and removes humidity. Recycled metal will be used on the house’s roof.

Bill Allison of Allison Ramsey Architects and Traci Kearns of Alchemy Design Studio designed the house locally.

For more information about the Southern Living eco-friendly house, call (877) 687-2626

Asheville Recycling’s New Curbside Contest

Monday, January 14th, 2008
Asheville recycling

Curbside Management and Asheville’s sanitation department are holding the new Feed the Bin and Win competition. Starting the week of February 4th, they will be giving away $100 a week for 16 weeks. Those people living in the cities that participate in Asheville’s Curbside Recycling Program can enter the contest by sending in an enrollment card. The cards and a flyer will be brought to each residence when the 2008 recycling and brush collection calendar are delivered.

Every week for 16 weeks, a card will be randomly drawn and if the selected house puts out its recyclable items and all meet the city recycling guidelines; then the household will win $100. If the household does not meet the requirements, the prize money rolls over to the following week. Each week that the conditions are not met, it gives the winner of the next week’s drawing a chance to win $200.

The card and guidelines are available below, and can be turned in via e-mail to [email protected].

City of Asheville to propose converting to hybrid buses

Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Hybrid Buses

Asheville City leaders want to use state transportation funding to begin converting the Asheville Transit System‘s diesel buses into diesel hybrids some time in the next year. Ordering only of five of the new hybrid buses would give Asheville one of the biggest hybrid bus fleets in North Carolina.

The five buses would come at the cost of $3 million. Funds would come from both state and local taxpayer coffers. The purchase will most likely depend on the State of North Carolina giving Asheville $2.7 million in transportation funding.

The hybrids would be an element of a program that would replace Asheville’s 16 older diesel buses, which were purchased in 1996. While the hybrids would cost 30 percent more than standard diesel buses, they would use 25-50% less diesel fuel as well as reduce maintenance costs.

City Councilman Brownie Newman says that fuel savings is one of the major reasons to support the hybrids. Also among the stated reasons are improved air quality and lower noise levels downtown, among other advantages the hybrid buses would provide.

Asheville expands recycling program

Thursday, November 29th, 2007

Asheville’s Curbside Management is adding two new materials to its collection program. All empty aerosol and plastic bottles will now be accepted for recycling!

Recycling expansion program

Asheville residents can now recycle both materials by placing them in their green recycling bin and following these rules:

  • For aerosol cans: Make sure the can is empty and remove the plastic top.
  • For plastic bottles: Remove the bottle’s cap and throw it away with your non-recyclable garbage. Make sure to rinse the bottle and flatten it, as much possible.

To see whether a plastic container is in fact recyclable, here is what to look for:

  1. A neck on the bottle or an opening smaller than the widest part.
  2. A number of 1 – 7 inside the recycling symbol.

There are still a few plastics that cannot be recycled. The following items will not be collected:

  • Bottle caps or tops.
  • Antifreeze, pesticide, motor oil, or other hazardous / environmental waste material containers.
  • Containers that are not bottles; like yogurt containers, butter tubs, or flower pots.
  • Bottles not marked with a recycling symbol.
  • Prescription bottles.
  • Plastic bags.
  • Plastic wrap.
  • Styrofoam.

If you have questions regarding recycling in Asheville, please call Curbside Management at (828) 252-2532.

Asheville asking residents to conserve water

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

With Western North Carolina still in a drought, Asheville City Government is asking residents to conserve water. This voluntary conservation effort is the first step of a three-phase plan that will be implemented if water consumption in the city cannot be curbed. The Phases are as follows:

Water conservation

Phase I – Voluntary Measures –
The City asks its customers to conserve water as much as possible.

Phase II – Mandatory Measures –
All citizens must conserve water. No irrigation systems can be used, no watering lawns, no washing vehicles at home, reduce clothes washing, etc. Commercial customers are asked to conserve as much water as possible while not impacting their revenue and employees’ jobs.

Phase III – Surcharges Implemented –
Additional charges per unit of water (each 748 gallons) may be imposed to encourage water conservation. The current rate surcharge is $1.40 per unit of water.

Asheville’s primary source of water is the 6 billion gallon North Fork Reservoir in Black Mountain, which is located in a 22,000 acre protected watershed. Asheville also gets water from the Bee Tree and the Mills River water treatment plants. These facilities provide water to all of Asheville.

Asheville uses a computer-based drought management modeling program that helps the city assess how much water is on-hand. The model takes into account current water levels, precipitation, past reservoir levels and recent rainfall to access future drought conditions.