NC Sierra Club Footnotes Online – November 2013

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Sierra Club members and supporters,

The holidays are rapidly approaching, and despite some of the dismal news coming out of Raleigh these days, there is good reason for Sierrans to be thankful. First and foremost, in the face of losing ground on hard-won policies, our members and supporters have continued to stand up and call for reason at state-level meetings and public hearings.

The events highlighted below may have passed, but you still have the ability to provide input to our state environmental agency on our need for strong water protections and the need to ensure proper closure of toxic coal ash ponds. Aside from being thankful for all the Sierrans who are stepping up, you have the opportunity to join them. Read about the issues below and be sure to check out the long list of fun outings at the end of the newsletter!


Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Thankful for clean water? Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace (But We’d Rather You Speak Now)

This past Tuesday, in the middle of a workday, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held a long overdue review of the state’s water quality standards, as required by EPA.

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The room was packed and the speakers were well-informed, articulate and prepared. Speakers had come from as far away as Cherokee to express concern about big gaps in North Carolina’s water quality standards.

Among the excellent presentations, several were given by Sierra Club leaders. Many thanks to Ed Beck (Chair, Cape Fear Group), Harvey Richmond (Capital Group Executive Committee), and Olga Grick (co-chair, Orange Chatham Group) for attending and speaking today on behalf of the club. Many thanks also to Marghi Sowerwine (Medoc Group), who traveled from Rocky Mount and spoke as a physician about  her concerns.  And thanks to Marvin Woll, Capital Group member, who linked today’s proceedings to concerns about the proposed Titan plant in Wilmington.

Now it’s your turn. We need you to step up and send your comments and concerns to DENR.

If you are not sure what to say, don’t worry.  We can help. The important thing is that you share your thoughts about what we can do to protect our water.

So, when you have 10 minutes to spare and and you want to do your part in protecting our state’s water, click here.  It’s worth the time.

Annual Report: 8 Pages of How Our Member Rocked 2013

13,833.  That’s the number of emails Sierrans and supporters sent to decision makers on our key issues so far this year.  It’s also just one of the facts found in the NC Sierra Club’s 2013 Annual Report.

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The report is hitting mailboxes now.  And every member should get one, but if you are not a dues paying member, don’t worry.  You can click here to become a member.

You can also click here to read an online version of the annual report.

This year’s report covers the Chapter’s conservation campaigns, offers facts and figures about the year’s work, hosts elections information and much more.  So please take a moment to review the great work of our volunteers over the past year.

And if you are already thinking ahead to next year, a great resolution to make is get involved in the local environmental issues in your area. If you don’t know where to start, contacting Janet Joye Smith, our NC Sierra Club Membership Chair is a good idea. Contact Janet at

Oh, and if you forgot to click on the link to become a member of the NC Sierra Club, don’t worry. It’s right here.  Go on and click it to be a part of the solution for moving North Carolina forward!

Holy Quakeamoley!

Arkansas had some earthquakes. That was confusing for folks living there. It would be like Salisbury or Asheville or Chapel Hill having earthquakes. It doesn’t happen. At least not often.

The quakes stopped when the state stopped allowing the underground injection of fracking wastewater. It could be a coincidence, but researchers from the University of Memphis and the Arkansas Geological Survey scientists see the connection more as likely than coincidence.

That may not be a surprise to many of us.

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But what did come as a surprise was to see an announcement that a delegation of North Carolina lawmakers are currently on a ‘fact finding’ trip to Arkansas to learn more about that state’s experience with fracking. Seeing all of the problems that Arkansas has had, visitors might be better off looking for warning signs.

Further, when asked by the Raleigh News & Observer as to why the delegation was not meeting with environmental groups during the trip, one legislator said the purpose of the trip is to “learn how the system works,” saying “we have enough environmental groups here.”

Click here to make an e-card explaining why legislators making this trip should meet with critics of fracking, not just boosters. Share it on our Facebook page and we will do our best to make sure the legislators get the message!

Get Off Your Ash

The more than 50 people who took a boat trip on the Cape Fear River earlier this month got a firsthand look at the problems caused by storing coal ash in large unlined lagoons (otherwise known as holes in the ground).

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Sierrans and supporters travel up the Cape Fear River to the Sutton Coal ash lagoon site. Click here to join them in calling for the responsible closure of the lagoon!

The trip was organized by the Cape Fear Group and Outings Chair, Nancy Card. Folks onboard learned about the Cape Fear River, coal ash pollution and the proposed Titan cement plant.  Local Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette gave an overview of the ecology of the river and how coal waste impacts local groundwater and Lake Sutton, a popular fishing site. Sierra Club staffers talked about ongoing changes at DENR and the need for strong water quality rules to require Duke to clean up its pollution.

But the main story is something that we already knew: from coal mining, to burning coal, to disposing of coal ash waste left behind, coal is dirty business. Coal ash pollution is known to contain high levels of toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium, and boron. The public health hazards and environmental threats to nearby communities from unsafe coal ash dumping have been known for many years, including an increased risk of cancer, neurological disorders, asthma, and other illnesses.

North Carolina is emerging as a leader in promoting clean energy and phasing out dirty fuels like coal. A big part of this movement is cleaning up the dirty waste responsibly.

Click here to tell Duke Energy Progress to clean up their groundwater contamination. Ask Duke to provide a timetable and a way to involve to the public in the clean up plan.

We deserve better than a leaky coal ash pond. Is it time for you to get off your ash?

Upcoming Outings!

Thursday, November 21, 2013 – 12:00 p.m. – Durham: Lunchtime Power Walk at Duke University’s East Campus

Join like-minded folks for a fast-paced 1.6 mile lap around the Duke East Campus running/walking trail. A leader will take you through the first lap, starting at Noon-sharp.  Each lap can be done in about 25 minutes. Meet at the Duke East Campus entrance across from the Whole Foods parking lot at Broad & Perry. Convenient street parking should be available. Contact Jae for more information at All participants on Sierra Club outings will need to read/sign a standard liability waiver. You can find a copy of the liability waiver here:

Sunday, November 24, 2013 – 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.- Chapel Hill (Orange County near Duke Forest): Johnston Mill Nature Preserve Exploration!

Come out and explore the roughly 3-½ miles of trails at the 296-acre Johnston Mill Nature Preserve along New Hope Creek. Moderate—paced hike, lots of spots to stop, sit and look. We’ll cover about 3 miles (give or take a little) while making a loop through the area. The property was once home to the Johnston family (a Scots Presbyterian family) who lived, farmed and operated a gristmill on this land  they called Green Hill Plantation. The family lived on the land for 200 years starting in the first half of the 18th century. We’ll be on a visual scavenger hunt, looking for remnants of the old mill and family dwellings. Bring your binoculars—we’ll also be keeping an eye out for a recently spotted rare Northern saw-whet owl and other critters! Limit 15 participants, no pets. Leader: Kelly Mieszkalski. Sign up here:

For more information about the preserve:

Friday-Sunday, November 29-December 1, 2013 – New River State Park (Cliffview Campground)

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Bike ‘n Hike camp trip.  Rated easy to moderate for the 31 mile distance on a rails-to-trails path/bike on Saturday.  Not scouted.  Here is a link to info A bike helmet is required by Sierra Club to participate.  Group size is limited.

Cliffview is located on the edge of Galax, VA.  About 1′ 45″ from Greensboro.

More details upon inquiry.  Contact Jerry Weston at or 336-856-1431. Telephone calls before 9:00 p.m. please.

Sunday, December 8, 2013 – 10:30 a.m. – Hanging Rock State Park


Join us for a lively jaunt through the Sauratown Mountains, the only mountain range contained in a single county. This strenuous hike will include a walk to the top of Hanging Rock with beautiful fall vistas.  This 8.5 mile hike will include elevation gains and rocky uneven terrain. We’ll hike up to the top of Hanging Rock and enjoy the vista. Estimated hiking time is 3 hours, total time w/stops for views and snacks should be about 4 hrs. Adults only, no pets or children. Must be fit and able to hike a pretty good clip for several hours. Participation limited to 8. For more information and to register, contact Kim Ashley ( and Michael Byrne (

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 – 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. – Second Wednesday Winter Hike Series – Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail

Join us for a 3-mile fast-paced nature hike on the second Wednesday of each month through February. Locations vary, but will be on wooded trails somewhere between Hillsborough, UNC and Duke campuses. The December hike will be at the Historic Occoneechee Speedway Trail in Hillsborough. Limited to 12 participants. Sorry, no pets. To register and receive more information, contact Jae at All participants on Sierra Club outings will need to read/sign a standard liability waiver. You can find a copy of the liability waiver at:

Saturday, December 21, 2013 – Hanging Rock State Park Day Hike

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and join us for a hike. We will hike portions of the Lake, Chestnut Oak, Magnolia and Wolf Rock Trails. Come see why Hanging Rock State Park was the Park of the Year for 2012.  These trails will give you an idea of how important our state parks are in preserving North Carolina’s natural heritage as well as preserving a place of peace and solitude. The hike is 5 miles and is rated moderate. Contact Henry Fansler at (336) 473-0283 or

Wednesday, January 1, 2014 – 1:00 p.m. –  New Year’s Day Yadkin River Day Hike


This moderately difficult 5-mile hike will take place in the Yadkin River section of Pilot Mountain State Park.  Sleep late as we’ll meet at 1:00 for an afternoon hike.  Bring water, snacks and rain gear.  For more information, contact Joel Wooten before 9:00 p.m. at 336-679-8672 or e-mail at

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Did you know you can make a monthly gift to the NC Sierra Club? Find out how you can make a sustaining gift by visiting our website, or contacting the Chapter office at 919-833-8467.

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