The North Carolina General Assembly reconvened last week for its 2014 legislative short session. And though it may be ‘short’, this session is already substantive and fast moving.
The best way to stay up to date on what’s happening at the legislature is to sign up for Cassie Gavin’s weekly updates. As our lobbyist, Cassie is on the front lines helping protect our air, water, and natural places as various pieces of legislation are considered. Send Cassie (email@example.com) a note to request her updates.
You will find more information on advocacy actions you can take, as well as outing opportunities to get outdoors and explore and enjoy our beautiful state.
Thanks for all that you do,
Your staff at the NC Sierra Club
Breaking News: Fracking Bill Speeds Through the Senate
Yesterday, S 786 (this year’s fracking bill) was pushed through two committees and sent to the Senate floor. Today, the full Senate gave tentative approval to the measure. We expect it to be heard in the House next week.
S 786 contains a provision that breaks the promise made by the 2012 legislature when it put a ban on the issuance of fracking permits until a regulatory framework is in place. The legislature committed that the ban would not be lifted until the General Assembly reviewed and voted on the Mining and Energy Commission’s rulemaking recommendations. And, the legislature promised that North Carolina would have the strongest rules in the nation.
Instead, S 786 lifts the ban on issuing fracking permits effective in July of 2015.
Click here to take action now and tell your legislators that you want them to keep their fracking promises.
Let Your Voice Be Heard: Coal Ash Lobby Day on June 4
As you know, in February a stormwater pipe burst beneath a coal ash impoundment spilling 40,000 tons of coal ash – laced with arsenic, mercury, and lead – into the Dan River. Coal ash now coats the bottom of the Dan River for more than 70 miles, and is inches thick in some locations.
Along with Dan River, North Carolina has 13 other coal plants and 33 coal ash pits across that state that are threatening the health of communities and polluting precious groundwater.
That’s right. All across North Carolina, Duke Energy is storing coal ash in unlined pits directly adjacent to our rivers and lakes. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians rely on drinking water downstream of these coal ash ponds.
Join us for our Coal Ash Lobby Day in Raleigh on June 4 to make sure your community has a voice in how this toxic coal ash is cleaned up!
You may not be surprised to learn that some lawmakers want to pick and choose which coal ash sites are cleaned up. Join community members from across the state to tell your lawmakers that your community matters!
Click here to make sure your community is represented during the Coal Ash Lobby Day on June 4!
Take Action Now! Online Action on Coal Ash
Whether or not you can attend the Coal Ash Lobby Day in Raleigh, there is something that you can do right now to help protect our communities from toxic coal ash.
Click here to tell NC Senate President Pro-Tempore Berger and NC House Speaker Tillis that we need leadership on coal ash now!
Join the Team: the Volunteer Lobby Corps
Our volunteer lobbyists are instrumental in making sure that legislators have the information they need when taking up serious issues. From fracking to clean energy, and issues local and statewide, our success depends on Sierrans like you stepping up.
You are the leader that you’ve been waiting for. Sign up to learn more about the Lobby Corps today!
Party Like It’s 1984: NC Wilderness Celebration
What do Bill Murray, Mary Lou Retton, and the NC Sierra Club have in common? Monumental achievements in 1984.
Thirty years ago the NC Wilderness Act was signed into law and 68,700 acres of wilderness in North Carolina were protected. The acreage total gets higher when you include the 25,000+ acres of study areas that were part of the law. And Sierrans played a large role in getting the Wilderness Act passed.
And now, only a few tickets are still available for the 30th Anniversary Wilderness Celebration in Raleigh on June 12!
The program includes presentations from:
● Dr. Robbie Cox, past NC Chapter Chair and former Sierra Club President;
● Dan Chu, Senior Campaign Director for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America program; and,
● Amanda Damweber, Triangle Inner City Outings Chair.
Join us for an evening of great food and drink and even better company. Help celebrate wild North Carolina and Sierra Club’s outings programs. Get your tickets today!
Wilderness Spotlight: Areas of the Croatan
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act, each month we will highlight a wilderness area or a piece of history about how these areas became protected. This month, we celebrate the four wilderness areas within the Croatan National Forest.
In eastern North Carolina, the Croatan National Forest is home to four Wilderness Areas: Catfish Lake, Pocosin, Pond Pond, and Sheep Ridge. Altogether, these tracts of land consist of over 31,000 acres. Many dismiss these wilderness areas as impenetrable bogs that are only accessible by crossing deep ditches, but this is not entirely true.
Catfish Lake Wilderness Area can be reached driving down a dirt road to the lake and then crossing the lake in a kayak to the wilderness area. Sheep Ridge is directly accessible by the same gravel road that offers the turn off to Catfish Lake. Pond Pine wilderness area is accessible by the dirt road that leads to Great Lake, and Pocosin is a accessible by either a railroad track or the upper tributaries of the Newport River.
Visitors to these areas may see alligators, at least three kinds of poisonous snakes, and insectivorous plants like the sticky sundew, the waxy butterwort, and the no-way-out pitcher and Venus flytrap. Being remote and seemingly uninviting are part of what helps keep these wilderness areas mostly unspoiled. But that also makes them worth seeking out for those of us who truly want to explore Our Wild North Carolina.
Left: Henry Fansler of the Foothills Group walks between Sheep Ridge and Pond Pine, with Great Lake in the distant upper left corner. Right: The edge of Pond Pine Wilderness. Photo credit: Avery Locklear, used with permission.
Solar is Rising: A New Campaign with a Strong Foundation
The NC Sierra Club has been working for years to help move our state away from dirty energy sources and onto clean energy solutions. Our new Solar is Rising campaign builds on the great work our volunteers have already done and pushes our public education and advocacy efforts to a new level.
For the coming months, the Solar is Rising campaign will engage, educate, and motivate North Carolinians about the consequences of dirty energy and our state’s potential for better solar policies. The will be more to come from this campaign in the coming months, but for now, it’s pretty clear that Solar is Rising!
Visit SolarIsRising.org for more information.
A Look Back: Recent NC Sierra Club Events Events
Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors – April 26, 2014
The second annual Celebration of the Military Child Outdoors (COMCO) at Camp Lejeune, NC was headed up by Karan Barber, the new director of the Charlotte Inner City Outings Program (ICO). Joining Karan and her E-Corps Crew for the set-up day on Friday were Kelly Mieszkalski, Tom Williams and Nancy Card. On Saturday, it was all hands on deck as Robert Scull, Elizabeth Greene and Hap Palmer joined in to help connect approximately 250 folks from military families to the great outdoors. Representatives from five NC Chapter Groups were there to share in the fun!
The children checked in and were given a mission card to be stamped by each exhibitor including: Sturgeon City, Thrifty Adventures, Possumwood Acres, Camp Corral, USMC MCCS Outdoor Adventures, USO, Play Mobile, and the NC Zoo.
The North Carolina Sierra Club Outings leaders set up camp – literally – with tents and other camping gear. For some of the kids, it was their first time inside a tent. They also participated in a treasure hunt game developing navigational skills using a compass that was theirs to keep. The treasure chest featured bandanas screen printed by the Our Wild NC Team. Fifty-four new folks signed up for the Explore Our Wild NC challenge and the NC Chapter raffled off a family tent to one lucky family.
After sampling all there was to offer, the young explorers returned to the check-in desk to share their successful mission cards and claim prizes including a magnifying glass, cool shades, a flying disc, and kite. The high fives and smiles were overwhelming. It was a wonderful opportunity to share adventures with our country’s youngest heroes!
For more great pictures of this event, click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjXN181k
Sesquicentennial Park Outings Leader Training (OLT) Event a Big Success!
On May 3-4, over 30 current and aspiring Sierra Club Outings Leaders from the North and South Carolina Chapters gathered at Sesquicentennial State Park in Columbia, SC for a weekend full of Outdoor Leadership Training (OLT). In true Sierra Club fashion, we camped out under the stars and did all of our teaching and training outside! Participants were treated to camp fire songs, perfect weather, and fantastic South Carolina hospitality (including BBQ!). Training included Sierra Club OLT101 (Basic Outdoor Leadership), OLT201 (Advanced Outdoor Leadership), Watercraft (Canoe/Kayak) Safety, and CPR/First Aid training.
Thank you and congratulations to the following volunteer Outings Leaders who devoted a weekend away from home to further their commitments in getting more people outdoors while keeping them safe, happy and inspired:
● Barbara Adamski
Central Piedmont Group
● Linda Alley
● Bill Gupton
● Dori Bowman
● Hollis Parks
● David Robinson
● David Underwood
● Vance Parker
● Henry Fansler
● Michael Byrne
● Kelly Mieszkalski
● Kim Ashley
● Rosmarie Rosenbloom
A special thank you to our event organizing and training partners:
Art Seel, Starr Hazard, Al Graves, and Chris Hall from South Carolina; and, Bill Gupton, and Kelly Mieszkalski from North Carolina
The next Sierra Club Outings Leader Training event will be at Hanging Rock State Park 8/24-8/26–please save the date! If you are interested in becoming a Sierra Club Outings Leader and/or if you have questions about the training event, please contact Kelly Mieszkalski at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
May 24, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Upper Newport River Kayak Outing – Newport, NC
Like most rivers that flow entirely within the coastal plain, the Newport River in Carteret County meanders, alternating between light sandy and dark silty soils. Most of this trip will be beneath a canopy of cheery spring foliage and lucky participants may see and hear beaver, turtles, deer, and a variety of birds. The length of the trip will depend upon the tide and how much its rained recently further upstream in the headwaters within the Pocosin Wilderness Area of Croatan National Forest.
Bring your own kayak, personal flotation device, drinking water, and lunch. Expect to get wet. Intermediate experience is preferable. A maximum of ten participants. You must sign a waiver to participate. For more information you must email Robert Scull to register at email@example.com.
May 30 – June 1, Overnight Backpack Trip – Cold Mountain, NC
This trip to Cold Mountain is in the Shining Rock Wilderness and is rated strenuous with significant elevation gain (from Flower Gap at 2,400 ft. to the top of Cold Mountain at 6,030 ft.)
This trip begins at the Big East Fork parking lot on NC 276 off the Blue Ridge Parkway near the Pisgah Inn. This is the trailhead for Shining Creek Trail. Group size is limited depending on the experience of the participants. For more information contact Jerry Weston at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-856-1431. Telephone calls before 9:00 p.m. please. More information at https://nc2.sierraclub.org/outing/cold-mountain-nc
May 31, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – Catawba Wildflower Glen Service Outing
Join volunteers at the Catawba Lands Conservancy preserve to help Mary Stauble, Land Stewardship Volunteer, remove invasive plants and contribute to protecting this important natural landscape. The Wildflower Glen is one of the conservancy’s crown jewels due to its rich ecological diversity and proximity to Charlotte.
Volunteers will meet at the property at 9:00 am for an orientation. After the work, Mary will lead the group on a hike of the glen. Please bring work gloves, clippers (optional), water, and a hat. Limit 10 participants. Please contact Linda Alley at email@example.com for more information and to register.
June 14 – Grandfather Mountain Photography Workshop with Avery Locklear
Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group’s own award-winning 20-year old nature photographer, Avery Locklear, for a free outdoor photography workshop along the scenic Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park.
Advance registration is required. Registration is limited to 20 participants. Your cell phone number will be required to register. Please contact Vance Parker by June 7, 2014 at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (336) 768-0481 before 10:00 pm. to register. Note: Your cell phone number will only be used for trip communication only; we do not give your cell phone number to any third parties.
June 14, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. – Orange-Chatham Annual Picnic Hike, Carrboro NC
Work up an appetite for the annual Sierra Club Orange-Chatham Group picnic with a short 30-40 minute hike along the banks of Bolin Creek. Only a short walk from downtown Carrboro, the surrounding forest provides a peaceful escape from life’s complexity. The hike will provide a brief physical / mental challenge requiring well-placed steps to avoid getting wet in one section.
Sturdy non-slip hiking shoes are a must and an extra dry pair of socks are recommended, just in case. No pets on this one. The hike starts at the picnic location in Wilson Park. The outing leader will be Jae Furman. We will have a sign-up sheet/waiver at the start. More information at: https://nc2.sierraclub.org/outing/annual-picnic-hike
June 28, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. – NC Zoo Endangered Species Walk – Asheboro, NC
Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group and Nicole Petersen, a zoologist, marine scientist, and the NC Zoo’s Visitor Educator for our first NC Zoo Endangered Species Walk. The zoo is about much more than showing off cute animals to the public—it has a serious environmental and conservation mission to protect, preserve, and rehabilitate threatened and endangered animal and plant species both in the U.S. and around the globe.
All participants will be required to purchase a zoo admission ticket. There will be an additional $7/person fee for the Endangered Species Walk. Our group will be limited to 20 participants. Your cell phone number will be required to register (this is for trip communication only–we do not give out telephone numbers to third parties.)
Please contact Vance Parker to register by Wednesday, June 25th via e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at (336) 768-0481. This is a family-friendly outing suitable for all ages.
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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.