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Land, Water, and Air Conservation

in Asheville and Western North Carolina


Western North Carolina Forestry - Then and Now

The Biltmore Forest School near Brevard.

Western North Carolina is known as the birthplace of Forestry in America. The founding of America’s first Forestry School in Biltmore gave rise to modern scientific forestry in the midst of massive logging and timber famines. Gifford Pinchot1, who would later become the first Chief of the Forest Service, and Carl Schenk2, a German forestry doctorate developed the school.

Portions of Vanderbilt’s estate would become Pisgah National Forest’s Pink Beds and Cradle of Forestry. Today the "Cradle" hosts several events for fun learning opportunities in conservation. America’s first forestry school would eventually move to Sunburst, NC, near Lake Logan in Haywood County. Today, the tradition continues in Clyde, NC with Haywood Community College’s Forest Management program. This Society of American Foresters accredited school trains the next generation of foresters. The college also hosts several forestry events such as Arbor Day festivities and Timbersports. Check out Haywood’s blog for their calendar.

Spruce-Fir Forest at Mount Mitchell State Park

The legacy of Pinchot and Schenk continue today with the management of WNC’s many National Forest districts. The Pisgah and Natahala forests are managed for timber, range, recreation, wildlife and water resources3. Any decision made about our forests must include consideration of each of these values. In addition to federal and state public lands, other lands have been placed in conservation through the Nature Conservancy. Being very active in this area, this globally based group has protected over 700,000 acres throughout North Carolina. Other groups are active in this region, serving as watchdogs for North Carolina’s forests. The Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition monitors changes in federal management plans, and offers tips on how to be involved.

1Pinchot, Gifford. Breaking New Ground. Island Press, 1947 [1974].
2Schenk, Carl A. Birth of Forestry in America, Biltmore Forest School 1898-1913. Forest History Society, 1913 [1974].
3National Forest Management Act of 1976. 16 U.S.C. §§ 1600-1614, August 17, 1974, as amended 1976, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1990.

Pure Mountain Waters of Western North Carolina


View from Craggy of the Asheville Watershed

Pure mountain springs. Wild trout fishing creeks. The 240 bridge over the French Broad river. All are a part of the Asheville watershed, from the parkway’s ridgetops to the water treatment plant on River Road. Most of the Asheville watershed is on more than 17,000 acres of federal property, and protected by easements that adjoin federal land.

Here natural filtration through the environment takes place. Reservoirs supply the city with its water demands. Treated water then finds its way back to the French Broad river, north of Woodfin The river is also a popular bike, rafting and kayaking route.

View of the French Broad River from Hot Springs NC

In fact, with extreme ambition and proper planning, it’s possible to float all the way to the Louisiana delta! The river is also unique in that the French Broad River is the 3rd oldest river in the world, pre-dated only by the Nile and New River (latter also in North Carolina). The French Broad is also one of three rivers in the world that flows north along most of its route.

Managers in city government ensure that high water quality is delivered to residents. Asheville was the first city in the state to voluntarily comply with strict environmental standards for water quality.

Water quality is not the only issue to Asheville residents. Water conservation is just as important. Water saving features in the home are made available at little cost, with the help of the forward-thinking water department. Just go to the city government website to sign up for your low-cost, water saving methods.

Local conservation groups are active in the Asheville area, educating citizens about water quality issues, and what can be done to help our waterways. Of course, this education always begins with our youth. North Carolina’s Environmental Education Program gets kids involved with several interactive projects that teach about water resources. Other conservation groups are active in the area with children, such as the Adopt a Watershed Program. Several lesson plans are available to get kids involved early with water quality. The next step is to get everyone involved: There are several volunteer opportunities to help clean up our waterways, which are a great way to spend a day helping out and having fun, too!

Clean waters start with Conservation Education

Enjoy and, drink up!

Asheville Valley Air Quality


Plant spilling off pollution into the air

Western North Carolina is not unique to other places on the eastern seaboard in that air quality can vary greatly with the weather. There is no need to step around this issue, there are certain facts: the Great Smokey Mountains National Park is rated one of the most polluted parks in the states by the USDA. Asheville’s own automobile use, combined with westerly coal-fired plants account for our sometimes hazy skies. However, conscientious environmental leaders are unique to this area, with several active organizations working toward clear skies. The Canary Coalition is an example, bringing together academics, activists and others for a true grass-roots movement.

The City of Asheville runs their buses on propane and has several electric cars in service (beware the parking meter-reader!). Bio-diesel and “veggie” diesel co-ops offer fuel alternatives, such as Blue Ridge Biofuels.

Mountain Air from Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville NC

Bike paths connect broad areas of the city. (insert a’ville bike paths link here) With many low or non-polluting choices and strong grass roots, Asheville leads the progress towards a clearer skyline. Air quality is important to monitor, especially for children and the elderly with asthma or other respiratory ailments. To check today’s air quality, visit:

Check the Asheville area Air Quality: www.weather.gov
Check our National Parks Air Quality: www2.nature.nps.gov


Conservation and Environmental Organizations

Local Organizations & Groups


Quality Forward

Dedicated to creating a clean and green Buncombe County since 1976.
29 Page Avenue
Asheville, NC 28802
828-254-1776
www.qualityforward.org

Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP)

A nonprofit organization that supports farmers and rural communities in the mountains of Western North Carolina and the Southern Appalachians.
729 Haywood Rd.
Asheville, NC 28806
828-236-1282
www.asapconnections.org

Dogwood Alliance

Protecting our Forestest through activism and grassroots efforts.
www.dogwoodalliance.org

Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project

Dedicated to empowering citizens to appreciate, defend, and restore native biodiversity of the Southeast!
16 Eagle Street Suite 200
Asheville, NC 28801
828-258-2667 www.sabp.net

WNC Nature Center

WNC Nature Center has served for decades to protect & educate the people of Western North Carolina.
75 Gashes Creek Road
Asheville, NC 28805
828-298-5600
www.wildwnc.org

Elisha Mitchell Audubon Society

Promoting an awareness and appreciation of nature, to preserve and protect wildlife and natural ecosystems, and to encourage responsible environmental stewardship.
PO Box 18711
Asheville, NC 28814
www.main.nc.us/emas

Environmental & Conservation Organization WNC

ECO is dedicated to preserving the natural heritage of Henderson County and the mountain region.
121 Third Avenue West
Hendersonville, NC 28792
828-692-0385
www.eco-wnc.org

Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition

The Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition protects and restores the wildlands, waters, native forests, and ecosystems of the Southern Appalachian landscape.
46 Haywood Street, Suite 323
Asheville, NC 28801
828-252-9223
www.safc.org

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy

Protecting the world's oldest mountains for the benefit of present and future generations.
34 Wall Street, Suite 502
Asheville, NC 28801
828-253-0095
www.appalachian.org

Mountain Voices Alliance

Preserve and protect the environment, including the natural beauty, abundant resources, quality of life and cultural heritage of our communities.
PO Box 4093
Asheville, NC 28805
828-255-8537
www.mvalliance.net

Western North Carolina Alliance

A grassroots organization promoting a sense of stewardship and caring for the natural environment.
29 North Market St., Suite 610
Asheville, NC 28801
828-258-8737
www.wnca.org

People Advocating Real Conservancy (PARC) - Save Our Slopes

A citizen group dedicated to keeping watch on government action related to land use in Western North Carolina.
PO Box 53
Asheville, NC 28802
www.ashevilleparc.org

Black Mountains Conservation Project

www.main.nc.us/BMCP

North Carolina National Forests

www.cs.unca.edu/nfsnc


National Organizations & Groups


Environmental Citizens Action Committee

www.envirocitizen.org

Conservation International

www.conservation.org

Environmental Defense

www.environmentaldefense.org

The Environmental Literacy Council

www.enviroliteracy.org

Friends of the Earth

www.foe.org

Greenpeace

www.greenpeace.org

The National Environmental Trust

www.net.org

National Parks Conservation Association

www.npca.org

Natural Resources Defense Council

www.nrdc.org

National Wildlife Federation

www.nwf.org

Rainforest Action Network

www.ran.org

World Wildlife Fund

www.worldwildlife.org


Clean Air


The Canary Coalition

A Western North Carolina based grassroots clean air movement.
48 New Dawn Lane
Sylva, NC 28779
828-631-3447
www.canarycoalition.com

Western North Carolina Regional Air Quality Agency

Monitors and regulates Buncombe County's air quality to safeguard public health and the environment.
49 Mount Carmel Road
Asheville, NC 28806
828-250-6777
www.wncairquality.org

Clean Air Community Trust

Striving to improve air quality through innovative programs that educate, energize, and empower the communities of western North Carolina.
PO Box 2824
Asheville NC 28802
828-258-1856
www.airtrust.org

Clean Air Council

www.cleanair.org


Clean Water


Clean Water for North Carolina

Working for clean, safe communities and workplaces with hundreds of communities and thousands of North Carolinians.
29 1/2 Page Ave
Asheville NC 28801
828-251-1291
www.cwfnc.org

Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) at UNC-Asheville

The EQI serves citizen groups, governmental agencies, and the private sector by providing information on water quality and other environmental concerns.
One University Heights, CPO 2350
Asheville, NC 28804
828-251-6895
orgs.unca.edu/eqi

RiverLink

RiverLink is a regional non-profit spearheading the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River.
170 Lyman Street
PO Box 15488
Asheville, NC 28813
828-252-8474
www.riverlink.org

Land O' Sky Trout Unlimited

Organization of anglers and conservationists dedicated to the protection of trout and their habitat.
www.landoskytu.com

Waterkeeper Aliance

www.waterkeeper.org

Clean Water Action

www.cleanwateraction.org

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Conservation of Land, Water and Air in Western NC
Blue Ridge Biofuels
828-253-1034
Blue Ridge Biofuels
Local Biodiesel, Local Resources
Fuels for Homes and Automobiles
Helping to Keep Asheville Clean
www.blueridgebiofuels.com 
Charles Haag - Prudential Lifestyles
828-713-0398
Charles Haag - Prudential Lifestyles
Broker: Residential / Land / Relocation
A Fine Home Specialist
Prudential Top Producer in 2008!
www.ashevillencland.com