* RibbonWalk Nov 9 – Forecast was right on: Beautiful and Fun!

This past Saturday was beautiful at the RibbonWalk Nature Preserve! Blue skies, mild weather, beautiful leaves, and a great group of folks looking to give back to our community.

When you drive into RibbonWalk and park, check out the new area where the invasive plants were removed. A huge difference.

Thanks again to Park and Rec naturalist Laura Domino and the other great volunteers working to make a difference.

The crew of great folks!

Nov 9 2013 workparty 1

One of the many piles of invasive species removed

Nov 9 2013 workparty 2

Photos by Chuck Dean

* Order Your Trees Today and Plant Hope for Tomorrow

He who plants a tree
Plants a hope.
~ Lucy Larcom

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
The second best time is now.
~ Chinese Proverb

This could be the best $2 you ever spent!

The Mecklenburg Soil and Water Conservation District has announced their 2014 Rain Barrel and Tree Seedling Sale. You can place your order through December 6, 2013.

Click on the chart below to view the Fall Newsletter and view the chart (page 8), pictures (page 9), and order form (page 10). Delivery will be on February 21 and 22, 2014.

For additional information, email Anganette Byrd or call 704-336-2455.

MSWCD 2014 Tree SaleMSWCD 2013 Fall Newsletter

* Mecklenburg Extension Fall Plant Sale!

Make your backyard or front yard more sustainable! Order some plants today!


Meck Extension 2013 Plant Sale2013 Fall Plant Sale Flyer

Proceeds from the Mecklenburg Cooperative Extension Fall Plant Sale support educational programming for Mecklenburg County citizens. Orders are placed via the Mecklenburg Extension website and paid for upon pick up. For more information please contact our office at 704.336.2082.


* Register Today for Creek ReLeaf 2013 – Nov 23

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.”

   ~ Greek Proverb

Sierra Club members are invited to sign up for the annual Creek ReLeaf tree planting which will be held on Saturday morning, Nov. 23rd from 9 AM to noon.  We will be planting nearly 2,000 trees in the floodplain along Irwin Creek in Charlotte working with the Charlotte Public Tree Fund, Mecklenburg County Stormwater, CPCC and several hundred volunteers.  This highly successful program helps to build our tree canopy and reduce runoff into our streams.  And trees also give us cleaner air.  Volunteer directly by signing up at the Charlotte Public Tree Fund website and Click on “Get Involved” and go to “Volunteer Sign Up.”  In the section for “Group Name,” put in “Sierra Club.”  Here’s the link to the website: www.charlottetreefund.org. Children are welcome to help plant our trees!  Groups of volunteers are encouraged too.  A complimentary lunch will be served at noon and prizes will be raffled.  If you have questions contact rick@charlottetreefund.org
See you in November!

Here’s some additional information from the Charlotte Public Tree Fund about Creek ReLeaf 2013. It’s always a great family fun day that gives back to our community. Register today!

Creek ReLeaf 2013 Logo

What is Creek ReLeaf®?

The Creek ReLeaf Program is a collaborative effort of the Charlotte Public Tree Fund, Charlotte Mecklenburg Storm water Services, the Center for Sustainability at Central Piedmont Community College, the Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group, and our dedicated volunteers and financial supporters to plant trees in riparian areas (floodplain and stream buffers) of Mecklenburg County.


This Year’s Planting Event Creek ReLeaf 2013 will be on November 23rd from 9 to noon and includes lunch. The planting site will be at the in the floodplain along Irwin Creek just off Whitehurst Road in Charlotte.  This is just north of the Billy Graham Parkway between Tyvola Road and I77.  See a map here

Click here to register for Creek ReLeaf 2013.

* Help get this veto!

This is such an attack on our environment!

Please send Governor McCrory a strong request to veto this bill!


The state legislative session is finally over (thank goodness!). Fortunately, there’s still hope to stop one awful bill passed late last week.

House Bill 74, which contains dozens of bad provisions for North Carolina’s environment and public health, was passed at the very end of the session. Most troubling, H74 includes pieces that would dramatically weaken environmental and safety standards for landfills.

But there’s still a chance to stop this bill! In a surprising announcement Friday, Governor McCrory said he’s considering a veto of H74. Could you send a quick email to Governor McCrory urging him to veto House Bill 74 today? http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/VetoH74

House Bill 74 includes language that would:

·         remove or weaken many of the safeguards put in place surrounding landfills in 2007;

·         remove environmental justice protections for low income communities;

·         eliminate the requirement for regular maintenance of toxic liquid collection lines;

·         eliminate protective boundaries for sensitive wetlands and streams; and

·         replaces a state law that requires garbage trucks to be “leak-proof” (meaning NO leaks) with a vague and undefined standard that they only have to be “leak-resistant.”


There are numerous other bad provisions in H74, including one that would allow coal fired power plants and other industrial facilities to contaminate our groundwater. H74 also sets deadlines – with no extra resources to meet them – by which state regulators must re-adopt most existing environmental protections or those protections automatically expire. Water quality protections for North Carolina’s rivers, lakes, and beaches face the first set of deadlines.


It’s important that North Carolinians like you continue to put public pressure on the Governor by urging him to use his power of veto on this dangerous bill. 

Tell Governor McCrory to veto House Bill 74 today: http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/VetoH74

For More Information:

1. House Bill 74: Regulatory Reform Act of 2013

* Why should I ask Gov McCrory to veto the REALLY BAD billboard bill?

Asheville Billboard 2

Please contact Governor Pat McCrory today and ask him to veto House Bill 74.

N.C. lawmakers passed bad billboard bill; veto it, governor

Thursday, Aug. 01, 2013

From Ryke Longest, a clinical professor of law at Duke University School of Law:

While the people of North Carolina pay serious money to maintain the beautiful roads of our state, our legislators are giving a large corporate subsidy to billboard companies. Subsidizing ad sales for publicly-traded corporations makes little sense when North Carolina has a backlog of requests to maintain the roads that generate the ad revenue, but North Carolina’s General Assembly has caved to pressure from the billboard lobby once again.

For two legislative sessions in a row, the billboard industry has asked for favors from Jones Street and gotten them. This year, the favors are tucked into HB 74, a bill containing two provisions which attempt to make a giveaway of state resources to the billboard industry permanent.

As mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory took a leadership role defending the rights of communities to protect themselves from billboard blight. As candidate for governor, McCrory took the General Assembly to task for enacting legislation enabling cutting of public trees. Now, Gov. McCrory has an opportunity to veto a bad bill which senselessly handcuffs local governments.

In 1965, the U.S. Congress enacted the Highway Beautification Act with the intent of restricting the growth of billboards and junkyards along our nation’s public highways. The act restricts billboards to areas where they were allowed by local or state zoning laws. States are required to demonstrate that they have effectively controlled billboards under the act or risk losing 10 percent of their federal highway appropriations.

The General Assembly’s enactment of HB 74 gives billboard companies the right to completely rebuild aging billboards with new steel structures, even in areas that are not zoned for billboards. This creates a permanent monopoly for the holders of current permits. The price for this privilege is too low to be believed. The company must pay a $60 permit renewal fee to the state each year, as well as property taxes on the value of the sign structure. In the case of one sign west of Winston Salem on I-40, the billboard advertising company paid a whopping $9.84 in county property taxes, while the typical North Carolinian pays more than $1,000 per year in property taxes. In 2012, the company paid $69.84 to the county and the state for using I-40. Using a conservative estimate of billboard revenue at $3,000 per month, the annual cost to billboard companies is less than its revenue for a single day.

Last session, our legislature passed a bill to permit the billboard advertising companies to clear cut the right-of-way for 425 feet at each sign face, 850 feet for a two-sided billboard. For this additional privilege, the billboard advertising company pays a whopping $200, less than the cost of administering the program.

As our roads become more congested, only one user group profits more without paying more-billboard companies. There are more than 7,000 permitted billboards on North Carolina’s state roads. The current fee structure is not sufficient to cover the costs of administering the programs, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Any typical driver will pay more to the state for using our roads than a typical billboard will.

We should be tolling the billboard companies for every person that passes by and sees the signs. Service station owners in North Carolina have to absorb some of the cost of the state’s gas tax to remain competitive with stations in neighboring states. N.C. drivers already pay far more in taxes and fees to support the roads than drivers in surrounding states. Subsidizing billboards is unfair to North Carolinians whose tax dollars support the traffic that give the billboards value. All who use the roads of the “Good Roads” state should pay their fair share. Toll the billboards, not the people.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/08/01/4207294/nc-lawmakers-passed-bad-billboard.html#storylink=cpy

Ready to send the Governor a message? Please contact Governor Pat McCrory today and ask him to veto House Bill 74.

* Ask Governor McCrory to Veto House Bill 74, the “Billboards Forever” Bill

Ask Governor McCrory to Veto House Bill 74, the “Billboards Forever” Bill


The N.C. General Assembly has passed a bill that would override local ordinances and allow billboard companies to rebuild existing billboards, even if those billboards are considered non-conforming under local law.

Under the bill, reconstructed billboards could be 50 feet tall – the height of a five-story building – even if signs of that height are not allowed by local ordinances or would create a nuisance in the neighborhood.  Lighting could also be added.

The bill gives special land use rights to billboard owners that no other business within the state currently has.  Because the bill provides permanent status to all existing billboards statewide, regardless of local decisions on where billboards should go, the bill is being called the “Billboards Forever” bill.

The bill allows more cutting of trees at highway interchanges to increase the visibility of billboards, expanding on the billboard tree cutting bill passed in 2011.  This would have a negative effect on highway safety by increasing the distraction of billboards at the most dangerous location on a freeway, the interchange area.

Please contact Governor Pat McCrory today and ask him to veto House Bill 74.

Please thank Governor McCrory for his leadership in reducing visual clutter through billboard ordinances when he was mayor of Charlotte, and ask him to protect this authority for other cities and counties in the state.

Please remind Governor McCrory that visual quality is important in attracting businesses and tourists to our communities and state.

Remind Governor McCrory that over the last few years, the billboard industry has already received major concessions at the public’s expense, and that enough is enough.

Governor McCrory is considering whether to veto House Bill 74.  Please contact him NOW and urge him to veto this harmful bill.

Thank you for your support of scenic quality in North Carolina.

How to contact Governor McCrory:

Phone (during normal business hours):  919-814-2000

Fax:  (919) 733-2120

E-mail:  pat.mccrory@nc.gov or http://www.governor.state.nc.us/contact/email-pat


* Clear-Cutting Charlotte Trees for Billboards

Clear Cut Billboards 1

Clear Cut Billboards 2

Re-post from the NC League of Conservation Voters

One of the anti-environmental laws passed by the 2011 session of the N.C. General Assembly authorized billboard companies to greatly increase their clearing of trees and vegetation on public road rights-of-way near their signs. Photographic evidence is beginning to pop up of the negative impacts on that change on our roadsides and neighborhoods.

Scenic America has recently posted photos showing the dramatic adverse effect of the new law on the Wesley Heights neighborhood in Charlotte along I-77. Last month, a billboard company stripped away most of the canopy of greenery that had long formed a buffer between the neighborhood and the noise and sight of the freeway.

See the evidence here.

N.C.’s Department of Transportation estimates that the new law will result in an 80% increase in clear-cutting along our state’s interstates and other major roadways.

Bad laws have real impacts. Fighting back effectively in the legislature–and in elections for legislators–is more important than ever.

* Countless Limbs Lost in Char-Meck Massacre

Tree limbs that is.

Since the March 2012 billboard tree removal law was passed and we lost local control over billboard companies massacring trees, we have lost over 4,400 trees.

The Scenic America publication, Beauty and the Beast, examines how the billboard industry makes money by chopping down the public’s trees, why states let them do it, and what you can do to stop it.

Beauty and the Beast

Read about this in a May 6th Charlotte Observer report by Lindsay Ruebens (emphasis added:

Tree-cutting for billboard upsets Wesley Heights residents

“Some Wesley Heights residents are upset that recent tree removal by a billboard company has exposed homes to more traffic noise from nearby Interstate 77.

But Adams Outdoor Advertising properly followed a state law that allows billboard companies and businesses to clear vegetation for better visibility – and city officials say there is little they can do.

Companies have cut more than 4,400 trees in Charlotte since the law passed in March 2012, said City Arborist Don McSween.

The Wesley Heights clearing brought an extra sting because the trees were a large screen between the historic neighborhood and I-77.

“There was a lot of tree canopy, and it probably appears worse than it would somewhere else,” said Laura Brewer, the city’s assistant arborist.

She said 198 trees ranging in diameter from 4 to 22 inches were cleared for better billboard visibility, which is a high number for clearing job.

Wesley Heights resident Melanie Mullen said the noise never stops and called it “intrusive to our neighborhood.”

The law bypassed municipal rules about cutting vegetation and gave the N.C. Department of Transportation the final say on whether trees can be cut. Now the city can only make comments or recommendations to the state regarding chopping.

For Wesley Heights, the city recommended that trees not be cut because they shielded a historic neighborhood from the highway. Irwin Creek also runs along I-77 in Wesley Heights, and McSween said he objected to clearing the area because of potential erosion.”

Read the full article here: Tree-cutting for billboard upsets Wesley Heights residents

* May 22 – “1 Tree, Two Trees, Old Trees, New Trees”

Lorax I Speak for the Trees

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We’re very lucky to have many voices speaking and acting to save our trees because the loss of canopy in Mecklenburg County is dramatic. Commercial and residential development, billboard carnage, and other pressures are threatening one of our important resources, our beautiful trees. Join us Wednesday, May 22, at 6:30 for “1 Tree, Two Trees, Old Trees, New Trees“. The speakers are Dave Cable, Executive Director of TreesCharlotte, and Patrick George, Chair of The Queen’s Crown.  

TreesCharlotte is a public/private collaborative dedicated to planting 15,000 trees annually through volunteer efforts. The collaborative also educates Charlotte’s residents on the importance of the canopy and ways to plant and preserve trees.

The Queen’s Crown promotes the recognition of the majesty of our area tree canopy.  The goal is to have people feel as if they can take pride in ownership of, and responsibility for, the Queen’s Crown.

The meeting starts off at 6:30 PM for pizza, refreshments and a chance to meet and socialize with other Sierra Club members and friends. The business meeting and program will begin at 7:00 PM. Non-members and potential new members are very welcome!

Central Piedmont Sierra Club meetings are held in the Mahlon Adams Pavilion at Freedom Park, 2435 Cumberland Avenue, Charlotte, NC, 28203. Cumberland Avenue is off of the 1500 block of East Boulevard.

The program is free and open to the public and you do not have to be a member to attend. Free parking is available.

Bring a friend or two; you’ll be glad you did! See you there…