Linville Gorge – 7.5 Mile Hike (Strenuous), Aug 3


August 3rd (Sunday). Note: This is the reschedule of the rained out hike that was scheduled for June 8:

Linville Gorge Wilderness 7 ½ mile hike on the Conley Cove and Linville Gorge Trails. We will explore the scenic Conley Cove and Linville Gorge trails and the Linville River. The rhododendrons are likely to be in bloom which should make the natural beauty of the gorge even more spectacular. The trails are rugged and are unblazed, so the group will need to stay together. This hike is strenuous and is for fit, experienced hikers with sturdy comfortable closed toe footwear. Hiking boots or closed toe hiking sandals are recommended. We will stop periodically to admire the scenery. Please bring a minimum of ½ gallon of water and any food necessary to maintain energy for this hike. We will take a break for lunch and/or a snack at the half-way point. After the hike, we plan to stop at Wiseman’s View which is one of the more dramatic viewing points in the wilderness. Total hike time 4 hours plus breaks and a half hour at Wiseman’s View total approximately 6 hours. If we start at 10 AM, we should be finished around 4 – 5 PM depending on pace and length of breaks. Contact David Underwood at 704-675-2390

IMPORTANT: Group Size is limited to 10 people (Forest Service Rule for Wilderness Areas) We currently have 2 signed up. When we reach the 10 person limit I will note it below.

Liability Waiver: All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver. If you would like to read the liability waiver before you choose to participate in an outing, download a copy at NC Sierra Club Sign In Waiver

Health Spotlight: Fracking in North Carolina Webinar on July 17


Health Spotlight: Fracking in North Carolina Webinar hosted by Medical Advocates for Healthy Air and Clean Air Carolina. July 17th online. This webinar, geared towards medical professionals, will be an opportunity to learn more about potential health impacts of fracking, lessons learned from Pennsylvania, and how medical professionals can address the issue.

Webinar date and time: Jul 17 from 2:00 until 3:30 PM

Goal: To provide medical and public health professionals a context regarding the scope of potential health impacts of fracking, lessons learned from Pennsylvania and offer ways to address the issue.

Who and What:

David Brown, ScD, Public Health Toxicologist and Director of Public Health Toxicology for Environment and Human Health, Inc.

In this webinar Dr. Brown will identify the acute and chronic health impacts associated with the practice of hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”) and actions available to address them. Dr. Brown will provide a method to evaluate the appearance of health effects from fracking and amelioration of the harmful impacts.

Grady McCallie, Policy Director, NC Conservation Network

Grady will briefly present the context in which fracking is likely to happen in North Carolina – how we got here; the resource; recent legislation; and ongoing rulemaking, as it connects to the environmental health issues raised in Dr. Brown’s presentation. Grady will also mention upcoming opportunities for medical professionals to influence these issues in North Carolina.

Organization Hosting Event: Medical Advocates for Healthy Air , Clean Air Carolina


NC Public Citizen’s Hearing on EPA Carbon Rules – July 22, Chapel Hill

On June 2, EPA announced the first ever regulations of carbon pollution on existing power plants. The Clean Power Plan, as it is called, has a chance to be the single largest step the U.S. has ever taken to combat climate change. EPA is holding public hearing in four cities – North Carolina’s closest hearing is in Atlanta – NC Interfaith Power & LightClean Air Carolina, Environment NCNC Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club NC Chapter are collaboratively organizing a Citizen’s Hearing in Chapel Hill to gather testimony and public comments on the plan. Organizing groups will deliver these official public comments to EPA.

Think it’s time for the U.S. to acknowledge and address climate change, then come make your voice heard!

Date:  Tuesday, July 22nd – Chapel Hill, NC

Time:  5:30pm – 8:00pm  public testimony time slot sign-up upon arrival

Assembly Hall
5:30 – 8:00    Group Networking and Informational Tabling with snacks and beverages
6:00 – 7:00    Elected Officials and invited speakers will give testimony

Community Lounge
5:30 – 8:00    Public testimonies (2 min/person) recorded in groups of three

United Church of Chapel Hill
1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

Outings Leader Training at Hanging Rock State Park–Aug 22-24–REGISTRATION IS OPEN!

Sierra Club Outings Logo Paddle

Hi Everyone,

We are excited to announce that registration for the upcoming Outings Leader Training (OLT) Weekend at Hanging Rock State Park is NOW OPEN! Space is limited and the registration deadline is Wednesday August 6th.

Training will include:

  • The Sierra Club Outdoor Leadership Training OLT201 (advanced OLT, this is required training to lead an overnight outing away from cars)
  • Basic First Aid (required of all Sierra Club Outings Leaders–you will receive a first aid card from ASHI good for two years at completion of the weekend)
  • Camping/Backpacking Skills
  • Special presentation by Recreation Specialist, Trevor Hudspeth (NOLS Wilderness EMT and NC EMT) on Wilderness Survival Skills!

Visit our Outings Calendar and on our Outings Resources | North Carolina Chapter for more information and the link for registration (via Eventbrite). There is a working document on our Outings Resource page that has additional details about the weekend.

Please note that we will not be teaching OLT101 this weekend–which is required for all Outings Leaders and must be renewed every 4 years. Outings Leaders (or Outings Leaders In-Training) that need to renew or take their OLT101 requirement should do so online prior to the training. Links and info are included in the announcements.

There will be some classroom instruction but we will be also be doing quite a bit of “on the trail” teaching/learning. It’s going to be a great time–we hope many of you will be able to make it!!!

-NC Chapter Outings Committee

July 15 – NC DOT Public Meeting on Char-Meck Area Transportation Projects

Want to have a voice in new area NC DOT transportation projects? Attend the Tuesday, July 15th, public meeting in Salisbury.

Share Your Thoughts on Point Distribution for Local Projects

Citizens are encouraged to help North Carolina take the next step forward to implement the Strategic Transportation Investments law.

Signed into law last summer, STI allows NCDOT to use its existing revenues to fund more projects that improve the state’s infrastructure, which will help create jobs and boost the economy.

The law directs each of the department’s 14 Transportation Divisions to assign points to local projects considered important to their area.

NCDOT wants to know what you think about:

  • The method your local division developed to determine how to assign these points
  • The number of points your local division plans to allot to different types of projects, including highway, aviation, bicycle and pedestrian, ferry, public transportation and rail

These points, when combined with a data-driven score, are used in determining the final score for each project on the Regional and Division levels. Projects on the Statewide level are scored using data only.

The divisions will hold public comment meetings in June and July where citizens can stop in, ask questions and share their thoughts about the point distribution process. Each division’s initial meeting will kick off a 30-day public comment period.

Division 10 Public Meeting

Date: Tuesday, July 15

Time: 4-7 p.m.

Metrolina Regional Transportation Management Center
2327 Tipton Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28213

Public comment period:
July 15 – August 14

Division 10 Methodology

Contact: Stuart Basham

Postal address:
716 W. Main St.
Albemarle, NC 28001

General questions:
(704) 983-4400

STI Comment Card


Stop Fracking in the North Carolina Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests

I got this message from the Forest Service about plans for fracking in our North Carolina national forests. When I get this sort of message it makes me even more concerned and calls out to tell the Forest Service why fracking our national forests is a really, really bad idea.

Please join me and send a comment about the “Revision of Land Management Plan for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests’ and tell them why you believe that fracking our national forests is a really, really bad idea.Click below to take action.


Comments may be sent via email to: or via facsimile to 828-257-4263. Send or deliver written comments to: National Forests in North Carolina, Attention: Nantahala and Pisgah Plan Revision Team, 160A Zillicoa Street, Asheville, NC 28801.

National Forests in North Carolina
160A Zillicoa St.

Asheville, N.C. 28801 

News Alert

Media Contact: Stevin Westcott, 828-257-4215

Hydraulic Fracturing and Plan Revision


Some stakeholders have raised concerns about hydraulic fracturing and how it fits into revision of the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests management plan.

It’s important for concerned citizens to know that revision of the management plan focuses on management practices, not on specific budgets or allocations of budgets.

The potential for oil and gas exploration will be identified in the plan revision process in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.

As described in the Notice of Intent To Revise The Land And Resource Management Plan (NOI)…

“No decision regarding oil and gas leasing availability will be made in the revised Forest Plan, though standards will be brought forward or developed that would serve as mitigations should an availability decision be necessary in the future.”

Click here to read more.

Sierra Club NC Chapter Legislative Update 07-11-14

Protect Enviro DemocracyDear Friends,

This week the General Assembly did not move any environmental bills forward that we have been monitoring because House and Senate leaders were busy hashing out the budget in contentious private meetings. That said, the coal ash bill and other bills we are following could move quickly next week as the legislature races to end the short session.

Status of the Coal Ash Bill

The coal ash bill - S 729 “Coal Ash Management Act of 2014” – was on the Senate calendar several days in a row this week, but was finally moved to Monday’s calendar for a vote of concurrence. Senator Apodaca (R – Buncombe, Henderson, Transylvania), who is taking the lead on the coal ash bill in the Senate, has said that the Senate will vote not to concur on the bill because changes are needed. Specifically, he noted that he would like changes to:

1) the variance procedure added by the House that would allow the Secretary of DENR to grant an extension to deadlines in the bill;  and

2) the agency location and makeup of the Coal Ash Management Commission.

Procedurally, after the Senate votes to not concur – the coal ash bill will go to conference – which means that House and Senate leaders will appoint legislator conferees who will meet in private to iron out differences and come up with a final bill.

A major environmental concern remaining in regards to the coal ash bill is the lack of clear standards to ensure that all closure methods are protective of groundwater near coal ash sites. All 33 coal ash ponds at 14 coal plants in North Carolina are leaking toxic heavy metals into the groundwater.  Without clear guidelines, this bill could allow coal ash at 10 of these plant sites to stay in place, continuing to pollute our groundwater, lakes, and rivers.

Opportunity for Action:

Please contact Senator Apodaca, who will surely be on the coal ash bill conference committee, and ask him to add clear standards to the bill to ensure that any closure method allowed is protective of groundwater near coal ash sites.

What’s in the coal ash legislation that moves us forward? What is lacking?

Given the complexity of the coal ash bill – you may be interested in a broader picture of what the coal ash bill – S 729 – will do. Certain provisions in the House and Senate versions of the coal ash bill are not in contention and so will very likely be part of the final bill. These include the following provisions sought by the Sierra Club and its coalition partners:

  • Bring coal ash under the state’s current solid waste management laws:
    • The legislation makes wet coal ash subject to North Carolina’s fairly stringent construction, monitoring and siting standards for solid waste.
  • Address future management of wet ash:
    • The legislation requires wet coal ash disposal to be phased out entirely by the end of 2019. The coal ash bill will prohibit construction of new or the expansion of wet coal ash ponds beginning in August 2014. Then, by October 2014 no additional coal ash will be allowed to be disposed of in wet coal ash ponds at retired plants.
    • By the end of 2018 no stormwater may enter the coal ash ponds at retired plants and all active coal ash plants must convert to dry fly ash handling only. By the end of 2019, no stormwater may be discharged into coal ash ponds at active coal plants and active coal plants must convert to dry bottom ash handling only.
  • Set a timeline and fixed date to close out all 33 wet coal ash ponds
    • The legislation sets clear deadlines for closing out all 33 coal ash ponds. Four coal ash plant sites are identified for clean closure (excavation of ash and putting ash into lined storage. The remaining 10 sites would be categorized by the new Coal Ash Management Commission and put into either high, intermediate or low risk category based on a list of factors. High and intermediate categorization would require excavation of ash and putting ash into lined storage. Low risk sites would be allowed to be capped in place. [Note: Although groundwater monitoring and financial assurance would be required, the  closure standards for capping in place as currently in the bill do not adequately protect groundwater.]
  • Adequately regulate structural fill:
    • The legislation requires construction, siting and monitoring standards for large structural fill projects. Also, a one year moratorium on smaller structural fill projects is established while standards are studied by the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
  • Close the highest risk sites first:
    • Clean closure, with removal of coal ash, from the four sites listed in the legislation: Dan River – Eden, Riverbend – Charlotte, Sutton – Wilmington and Asheville.  [Note that these sites are all in litigation, and that Duke Energy has already publicly committed to cleaning them up.]
  • Removal of a loophole in 2013 legislation that allows Duke Energy to extend the compliance boundary by acquiring additional property, even if that property is on the other side of a drinking water supply lake.
  • More funding for DENR to regulate coal ash: though not part of the coal ash legislation, both chambers have included funding for 20+ new positions at DENR to implement the requirements in the coal ash bill.

What remains to be addressed or improved in the pending coal ash legislation?

  • Criteria for prioritizing wet coal ash ponds for closure that is tied to groundwater contamination.
  • Setting minimum standards, based on scientific data, for closure. Closure standards should allow alternatives to moving the ash from unlined ponds near water only if those alternatives are demonstrably as effective in protecting water supplies as removing the source of contamination.
  • Standards for using coal ash for structural fill for structural fill projects under 80,000 tons/project of 8,000 tons/acre.
  • A provision that appears to be an attempt to undermine a recent NC Superior Court decision by Judge Paul Ridgeway, that is currently under appeal. The Ridgeway court order requires Duke Energy to immediately remove the source of contamination from coal ash ponds that are polluting groundwater.
  • A politically appointed new commission with broad discretion and little accountability to work with DENR to implement the bill. The new commission can use cost as a reason to reject a proposed closure plan.
  • Open pit mines are included as an option within the definition of structural fill. Large structural fill projects including those in open pit mines (over 8,000 tons/acre or 80,000 tons/project) would have to comply with the standards for large structural fill projects in the bill (standards including liners, groundwater monitoring, etc…). Smaller structural fill (including open pit mine) projects would be subject to a 1 year moratorium during which DENR will study the issue. We do not know what, if any, standards will be developed for smaller structural fill projects including those that are open pit mines.
  • Variance provisions (in the House bill) would allow the Secretary of DENR to extend deadlines for closure of coal ash ponds. The Senate does not support this House change and so this may come out or change during conference.

Thank you for your volunteer lobbying efforts on this important issue!


Cassie Gavin, Director of Government Relations

Sierra Club – NC Chapter

Sign Up Now for “Explore Our Wild NC Challenge”!

Sign up today for the “Explore Our Wild NC Challenge”! North Carolina has some great Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. Why not plan to visit and experience all these great sites in the coming year? Check out the Sierra Club Our Wild NC website for information about all of these beautiful NC treasures.

Explore Our Wild NC Flyer July 2014Explore Our Wild North Carolina Flyer July 31

Sign up today for the “Explore Our Wild NC Challenge”! The sign up period ends July 31st.


Stop the Invasive Invasion at Evergreen Nature Preserve – July 12th

Stop the Invasive Invasion at Evergreen Nature Preserve – July 12th

Preserve Our Preserves Service Outing

Saturday, July 12, 2014

9:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Winterfield Elementary School

3100 Winterfield Pl, Charlotte, NC

For the last 2 years, The Central Piedmont Group of the Sierra Club has been engaged in invasive species removal  at Ribbon Walk Nature Preserve, and we have done such an outstanding job  the Parks and Recreation Department has asked us to do the same for Evergreen Nature Preserve. Invasive species, also called “introduced species”,” non-native” or “non-indigenous” are plants that adversely affect the habitats or bioregions they invade.  The invasive species dominate the region and crowd out native species which had previously provided habitat and food for birds and other wildlife.  There is a great sense of satisfaction that comes from clearing a section of forest of invasive vines and seeing the natural open landscape restored.  We would love to have you join us at Evergreen to pitch in and restore this little slice of nature right in the heart of East Charlotte.

What to bring: Wear sturdy shoes for work and walking. Bring a water bottle and a snack if you would like to nibble while you work. Work gloves recommended. Tools are provided but you are welcome to bring your own loppers, trowels, knives, etc.

Liability Waiver: All participants on Sierra Club outings are required to sign a standard liability waiver. If you would like to read the liability waiver before you choose to participate in an outing, download a copy at NC Sierra Club Sign In Waiver

For questions or more information. contact Outings Chair David Underwood at 704-675-2390


And for you Kudzu Killers that want to learn more about identifying invasive plants, here’s a resource recommended by Mary Lou Buck!

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