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Welcome!

The Western North Carolina (WENOCA) Group is a part of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club. Its area of interest covers the counties of North Carolina west of Buncombe county except for Transylvania, Henderson and Polk counties. Those three counties are covered by our sister organization the Pisgah Group.

The group usually meets on the first Wednesday of each month. The meetings start at 7:00 p.m. with half an hour of social get together, program beginning at 7:30. The meetings are held in Asheville at the Unitarian Church, 1 Edwin Place at Charlotte Street. The form of the meeting is a brief session of announcements and business followed by a presentation about an issue in which the WENOCA Group is interested. A list of the forthcoming programs can be found under WENOCA News.

The WENOCA Group is an all-volunteer group with no paid staff. It is governed by an executive committee of seven members elected by the membership. Contact information for the members of the executive committee is provided on the excom page.

Visit our Volunteer Opportunities webpage to find out how you can get involved in our local outings, educational programs and events, membership recruitment and engagement,  fundraising, and advocacy efforts. There are opportunities to volunteer for many different types of tasks, to fit all types of schedules and time commitments. We need your talents and energy to help green Western North Carolina.

After you learn about our work, please consider becoming a member of the Sierra Club.  You can join on line using our secure server. Join now to receive a Sierra Club backpack as a welcome gift!

If you are a member, you can also renew your membership online via the same secure server. If you are not sure about joining the Sierra Club, follow this link to read why you should join us.

The WENOCA Group and the National Sierra Club are the same 501 C (4) non-profit legal entity. The local WENOCA Group is empowered to speak on behalf of the entire Sierra Club on issues that fall wholly within the Group’s geographic jurisdiction. The Sierra Club engages in the full range of electoral politics allowed by law. Because the Club has registered political action committees at the federal and state level, the WENOCA Group is able to make political endorsements at every level of government within its political boundaries, from US Congress to local county commissioner and council elections.

 

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017
Written by Deborah

Wed Oct 4: Fossil Fuel Divestment and Responsible Investing

Sierra Club presents “Fossil Fuel Divestment and Responsible Investing” Wed, Oct 4, 7pm Peter Krull of Earth Equity will talk about how to judge different investment opportunities to align closely with your values.
Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin place, corner of Charlotte and Edwin.
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716
Free and open to the public.

Friday, September 29th, 2017
Written by Deborah

News: Duke rate hike hearing

Judy Mattox of the Sierra Club testifying at the North Carolina public utilities commission September 27 making the point that Duke needs to pay for it’s coal ash cleanup and not pass on expenses to customers in the form of rate hikes.
Ken Brame also shared the Sierra Club clean power plan which shows that the building of new fracked gas power plants are totally unnecessary with advances in renewable energy and energy conservation and efficiency.

Judy Mattox testifying at Duke power rate hike hearing September 27, 2017.

 

 

 

 

“Sierra Club members turned out in force to testify against the Duke Progress Energy Rate Hike at the Asheville Public Utility Commission hearing.”

News article coverage.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Wed Sept 27 at 7pm: Coal Ash Rate Hike Public Hearing

Duke Energy wants to raise our electric bills by 15% to pay to clean up coal ash that has polluted our rivers and communities for years. Attend the public hearing Sept 27 in Asheville and tell regulators to hold Duke accountable.

 

The NC Utilities Commission (NCUC) will soon decide if they’ll allow Duke Energy to raise your energy bills in order to clean up Duke’s own coal ash. We need your help to tell NCUC that this isn’t right and that Duke should pay for their own mess. Below you’ll find more information on the hearing.

 

What: NCUC Coal Ash Rate Hike Public Hearing

When: Wednesday, September 27th at 7pm

Sign-ups for speakers start at 6 PM at the courthouse.

Where: Buncombe County Courthouse, Courtroom 1A, 60 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801

Rally at 5pm

News article

Monday, September 4th, 2017
Written by Deborah

By Sept 30: The Nantahala/ Pisgah National Forests Need Your Help

Speak up to protect Nantahala-Pisgah forests!

North Carolina’s national forests house some of the most beautiful landscapes in our state and nation, as well as critical habitat for a range of important animal species. That’s why it’s critical for those of us who love these forests and their inhabitants to speak up now on the Nantahala Pisgah National Forest Plan being drafted by the U.S. Forest Service.

Trail in the Nantahala National ForestThe current preliminary draft of the plan could, technically, allow for timber-cutting in sensitive areas because it treats the vast majority of the forests as being the same, without recognizing many special places within the landscape that are important to backcountry recreation, exceptional biodiversity, old growth trees, and connectivity of habitat.

The USFS is taking public comments on the plan until Sept. 30. We must encourage the agency to consider the unique needs of differing landscapes within the forest and provide protection through this plan revision accordingly.

Here are some of the concerns the Sierra Club and our allies have raised regarding each district, as well as the overall plan. You’re welcome to take these ideas and include them in comments you send by mail or email to the Forest Service (submission guidelines below).] Please personalize what you know, love, and recommend protecting:

Grandfather Ranger District: Linville Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The Upper Creek Gorge/Sugar Knob Backcountry area should be expanded. The Upper Wilson Creek Backcountry area should be expanded.  

Appalachian Ranger District: Snowball Mountain, Coxcombe Mountain, and Shope Creek should be included in the Craggy Mountains/Big Ivy Special Interest Area. (We are pleased by the creation of a new Special Interest Area in Big Ivy, though it should cover all of Big Ivy, and not just a portion.)

Pisgah Ranger District: Upper Courthouse Creek, Daniel Ridge, Cedar Rock Mountain, and upper Lickstone Ridge should be placed in backcountry management to protect their remote character and the species that depend on them.

Nantahala Ranger District: All of Panthertown Valley and Flat Creek should be in backcountry management. Tellico Bald, Siler Bald, and Fish Hawk Mountain should be placed in backcountry management. The backcountry area around Terrapin Mountain should be expanded to 4,000 acres. Corbin Knob, Hench Knob, and Chunky Gal Mountain should be Special Interest Areas.

Cheoah Ranger District: Upper Santeetlah Creek should be a Special Interest Area or backcountry area.

Tusquitee District: Gipp Creek should be placed in backcountry management. The Unicoi Mountain backcountry area should be expanded.

Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests in general: There are many special places that are in the wrong management area and lack the amount of protection they require., In addition to specific areas mentioned under each Ranger District above, there are dozens of smaller natural areas are not protected by the forest plan that should be “zoned” in the backcountry designation. Other resources, such as Old Growth, Riparian areas, state-designated Natural Areas, and major recreational trail corridors, do not have specific management area designations with standards and prescriptions for protection (a departure from the current plan). Rather they are left in zoning that is wide open to logging. For example, the Bartram Trail, Benton McKay Trail, Art Loeb Trail, and Mountains-To-Sea Trail lack a management area that would preserve the special character of these long-distance hiking trails. They should be designated as special corridors, similar to the Appalachian Trail and the Trail of Tears. In short, more specific management areas with standards and guidelines need to exist at the Forest Plan level to hold the District Rangers accountable when proposing future projects within their Districts.

Submit your comments by Sept. 30.

  • By email: Use the subject line, “Spring 2017 Material Plan Building Blocks” and send your message to ncplanrevision@fs.fed.us.
  • By postal mail to: Attn: Plan Revision, National Forests in North Carolina, 160A Zillicoa St. Asheville, NC 28801
Thursday, August 10th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Wed, Sept 6, 7pm Sierra Club presents “Electric Vehicles, Local Movement, Global Impact”

Dave Erb, automotive engineer at the University of North Carolina Asheville, and Pana Columbus, film director, will discuss transforming transportation in Western North Carolina and beyond.

Location Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, corner of Charlotte and Edwin.
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716
Free and open to the public.

Saturday, August 5th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Tell regulators: Don’t Raise Our Electric Bills to Pay for Duke’s Coal Ash!

Duke Energy wants to hike customer’s rates by 15%, charging customers $311 million to pay for cleaning up the toxic coal ash pits Duke has neglected for decades. Take action: click Here.

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Wed, Aug 2: Can Science Save Us From Climate Change, and from Ourselves?

Sierra Club presents “Can Science Save Us From Climate Change, and from Ourselves?”
Robert Cabin, Professor of Ecology & Environmental Studies at Brevard College, will discuss the power and limitations of Science to address climate change.

Date & Time: Wed, Aug 2, 7pm
Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin place, corner of Charlotte and Edwin.
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, (828) 683-2716
Free and open to the public.

Saturday, July 8th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Saturday, July 22 Noon-4: 8th Annual Sierra Club Summer Picnic

Come one, come all to the 8th Annual Sierra Club Summer Picnic on Saturday, July 22. (There will be no first Wednesday Sierra Club meeting in July. Aug 2 will be our next meeting on “Can Science Save Us from Climate Change, and from Ourselves?”
The picnic is scheduled from noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Parkway sheltered picnic grounds located on Bull Mt. Rd. near the VA Hospital on Riceville Rd.
This event is free and will be held rain or shine.
Please bring a pot luck dish to share and your own place settings. Drinks will be provided. Badminton and horseshoes will add to the festivities.
Directions: Exit 7 on I-240; go east on Tunnel Rd for 2 miles; turn north on Riceville Rd; go past VA Hospital, turn left on Bull Mt. Rd. The fenced-in, sheltered picnic area is on the left about ½ mile up the road.
Contact Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, 828-683-2176

Monday, June 5th, 2017
Written by Deborah

Alert: contact Buncombe County Commissioners to support this year’s budget for energy efficiency.

Attend & speak Tues, June 6 at 5 pm (200 College St, 3rd floor), or email the following 7 commissioners:     
brownie.newman@buncombecounty.org , jasmine.beach-ferrara@buncombecounty.org, alfred.whitesides@buncombecounty.org, ellen.frost@buncombecounty.org, joe.belcher@buncombecounty.org, mike.fryar@buncombecounty.org, robert.pressley@buncombecounty.org
 
Talking points:
We strongly support full funding of the local clean energy proposals by the Energy Innovation Task Force including recommendations for low-income weatherization, helping improve energy efficiency for non-profit and other community organizations, and exploring broader use of renewable energy on public buildings, including schools. The 2017/18 budget to fully implement these recommendations is $560,000, with future yearly goals of $500,000.
 
It would be great to have some people speak at the beginning of the Buncombe County Commission meeting about the importance of prioritizing clean energy at the community level. Each person has up to 3 minutes to comment.
 
Alert: Contact Tim Moore, NC House Speaker, or your Representative if outside Buncombe County, to oppose “Billboard Protection Act.” Vote will be in the next few days.
Talking Points to be against:
The bill would allow as many as 10 digital billboards per mile; would take away local governments authority to regulate billboards; would make NC taxpayers pay more money to billboard companies for removals and relocations; would allow more cutting of trees around billboards.
 
If you live outside of Buncombe County, please contact your state house representatives (contact your Representative) and ask them to oppose  House Bill 581 as soon as possible because it will be voted on in the next few days, and let them know that you don’t want your city or area to look like Gatlinburg.  If you live in Buncombe County contact House Speaker Tim Moore and ask him not to support HB 581, 919-733-3451, Tim.Moore@ncleg.net.
 

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017
Written by Deborah

June 7 at 7pm: How We CAN Prevent a 3rd Gas Powered Electric Plant by Duke Energy, An Update on the Energy Innovation Task Force

Join us on June 7 at 7pm as we welcome Julie Mayfield of Asheville City Council, Brownie Newman of Buncombe County Commission, and Jason Walls of Duke Energy, who will provide an update on the County-City-Duke partnership to reduce energy use in Buncombe County and to avoid construction of a new natural gas peaking unit.  The Energy Innovation Task force has been working for just over a year and has made recommendations to the City and County for new programs and investments, and Duke has made groundbreaking announcements on deployment of new technology in our area.  Come hear the update.
Location: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Pl, corner of Charlotte & Edwin
Contact: Judy Mattox, judymattox@sbcglobal.net, 828-683-2176