Swannanoa Valley Alliance for Beauty & Prosperity(SVABP)
PO Box 1341 Black Mountain, NC 28711
828-669-6677      Fax 828-669-8862
wncceib@buncombe.main.nc.us    www.main.nc.us/wncceib/AshevilleWatershed.htm


Read these articles below and then, to understand the history of this issue, scroll on down the page; there is also link below where you can email City Council with one click to thank them for this January 18, 2005 action!

January 19, 2005:Asheville Citizen-Times: "Council scales back watershed study" Article by Mark Barrett recounts Asheville City Council's rejecting City staff's recommendation for a $284,540 study. Council representative Brownie Newman quoted: "If our goal is clean water, the natural processes that have been at work for thousands of years...do a very good job as long as we don't mess it up."
See this ANALYSIS of the four bid proposals among which the City staff made their recommendation.

January 21, 2005:Asheville Citizen-Times: "Council's step away from logging inside the Asheville Watershed makes sense" Lead editorial notes that: "The function of the watersheds is not to produce money, but rather to protect the supply of drinking water."

February 9, 2005:Asheville Citizen-Times: "More equitable Asheville water rates would help maintain watershed and fix water lines"Guest Commentary by Gracia O'Neill, outreach coordinator for Clean Water for N.C.: "The notion that logging is the only way to generate revenue for maintaining the Asheville watershed is absurd."

* * * * * * *

Asheville Watershed May Be Logged

The 22,000 acre Asheville Watershed is in danger of being logged, ostensibly to improve wildlife habitat and to improve access for emergency vehicles. We conclude these reasons are simply 'Trojan Horses' to get commercial logging into the watershed. Final plans (see City's RFP-Request for Proposal for the "2nd phase" contract) for the logging will not be presented to the Asheville City Council until Spring 2005, but it is important that the public be aware of the now-adopted Plan and that we add our input to the process of finalizing it. Below are materials that will help you understand the background of this issue and the actions you can take to let the Asheville City Council know they should eliminate logging from the Watershed Management Plan.

OUR ANALYSIS of the July 27, 2004 4-3 Asheville City Council vote to approve the proposed Watershed Management Plan.     Excerpt: The GOOD news is that "No logging will occur any time soon, if ever. The first time City Council will see any specific recommendations will be in the next budget cycle, beginning in March/April 2005 and much public input will be possible before that time. Moreover, Council said that the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Conservation Trust of NC must be consulted and give clearance to any Plan brought to City Council. Note: See newspaper report and other background below. Click here for City Council Minutes, July 20, 2004 meeting; once at the site, scroll down for extensive details)

Read the Forest Managment "Plan" for yourself
(NOTE: This link has now been put back on the City's web site and is working)

(The go-ahead for the logging is still far from made even with th 4-3 approval of the 'Plan')

IF NOT, take these 3 easy steps:

1. Learn about the history & background of Watershed logging by reading info in this web site. Our management analysis of the proposed Plan, ourReaction, Assessment, and Recommendations arising from the July 20 Work Session; and our Good, Bad, Ugly Analysis of the vote approving the 'Plan.'

2. Contact Asheville City Council representatives and Regional Water Authority representatives and thank them for listening to the public and for not going ahead with logging. Express hope that the Advisory Task Force , which Mayor Worley will soon propose, will ensure full public participation in forthcoming decisions.
Click Here for Combined & Individual Email Addresses/Links

3. Send the link of this web site to everyone you know in the Asheville area.

Current Events & History of the Issue

January 21, 2005:Asheville Citizen-Times: "Council's step away from logging inside the Asheville Watershed makes sense" Lead editorial notes that: "The function of the watersheds is not to produce money, but rather to protect the supply of drinking water."

January 19, 2005:Asheville Citizen-Times: "Council scales back watershed study" Article by Mark Barrett recounts Asheville City Council's rejecting staff recommendation for a $284,540 study. Council representative Brownie Newman quoted: "If our goal is clean watr, the natural processes that have been at work for thousands of years...do a very good job as long as we don't mess it up."

January 14, 2005: Asheville Working Group's letter to Council alerting to "financial & environmental train wreck" The Asheville Watershed Working Group analyzed the four bids to carry out the "2nd phase" of the Watershed Management study. Their cautions and questions for Council had a powerful impact. Read it here.

December 2, 2004: Asheville Citizen-Times: Time is short for public to halt Asheville's ill-conceived watershed logging plan" Guest Commentary by Julie Brandt, a member of PARC (People Advocating Real Conservancy)    Brandt points to existence of a 1992 Watershed Plan that details how to keep the roads clear and asks, "Why aren't we saving money by using the detailed 1992 plan we already have?"    (Note: On Dec. 2, PARC hosted a well-attended public forum on the issue where both the history of the recent successful effort to prevent logging in the Woodfin Watershed and the history of the 1988-91 success in stopping logging on the Asheville Watershed were discussed.)

November 16, 2004:Logging Municipal Watersheds: The Public's Perspective Talk by Monroe Gilmour as part of workshop at the Southern Appalachian Man & Biosphere (SAMAB) conference in Gatlinburg; organized by the USFS

September 24, 2004: Asheville City Council approves 2nd phase Watershed Management Plan and approves contract RFP (Request for Proposal) 5 pm on Friday November 5 is the deadline for prospective contractors to submit bids; proposal calls for detailed plans to be presented in spring 2005 during budget process.

August 4, 2004: MountainXpress: "If a tree falls in the forest....Mumpower/Dunn lash out at public during watershed hearing" feature article by Brian Sarzynski. Excerpt: "Council member Joe Dunn shocked many in the packed Council chamber when he publicly berated a Blue Ridge Parkway official – who'd been invited by the city to discuss a forest-management plan for the city's drinking-water watersheds – over an entirely unrelated issue. "You've got a lot of gall to walk in here and demand this when you've kept us from getting our [Azalea Road] permit for two years!" thundered Dunn, adding, "Where's the bridge?" Dunn also fumed that 'the hand of subversive environmentalism' was at work in the chamber."

August 4, 2004: Asheville Citizen Times, "Asheville Watershed plan too vague, and some council members ignored the will of the people"Guest Commentary by Robin Cape "Yet, I still fail to understand why they would choose to vote to accept the plan in its current vague and undefined form." (Cape is on the Woodfin Water Board, a seat she won as a write-in candidate when the Board at the time tried to log the Woodfin Watershed.)

August 3, 2004: Asheville Citizen-Times: "Watersheds will always produce good water as long as they are managed well" Guest Commentary by David McGrew, Registered Forester. NOTE: This forester is the ex-USFS silviculturalist who is trying to persuade area municipalities to log their watersheds; he is the one who planned and carried out the Mars Hill watershed logging. This article is useful in seeing how the issue is presented to area officials, many of whom do not know enough about forestry issues to ask the right questions.

July 28, 2004:Asheville Citizen-Times:  "City Council approves watershed plan"    Excerpt: "ASHEVILLE - City Council narrowly adopted Tuesday an amended version of its controversial forest management plan for the city watershed. Council members disagreed on whether to create a task force to develop a more comprehensive plan. Some environmentalists and residents had criticized the plan for being too vague about proposed logging and "daylighting," or clearing swaths of forest along roads, in the watershed.
  Read our GOOD, BAD, & UGLY ANALYSIS of the Council meeting & vote.

July 23, 2004: NEWS RELEASE:  "Seven Regional Environmental Groups: Asheville Must Disapprove Watershed Forest "Plan" "    Excerpt: "The document presented last Tuesday at a City Council Work Session, called the “Forest Management Plan,” doesn’t include any cost-benefit analysis for the management practices called for, and makes contradictory and ill-advised recommendations for habitat improvement, invasive species control and fire management. There has been no involvement of the public in development of this proposal, a striking contrast to other cities, such as Greenville, SC, whose watershed forest management plans have strong public 'buy-in.' "
Also read our Reaction & Recommendation to the July 20 Work Session this article describes.

July 21, 2004: MountainXpress: "TIMBER!: City proposes plan to log drinking-water watersheds" "    Excerpt: "At a Feb. 9 meeting of the Regional Water Authority board, Joe Dunn (one of two Council appointees to the Authority) suggested that logging old growth could generate revenue for the city. "It's going to take political guts, but it's time," Dunn declared." "
Also read our Reaction & Recommendation to the July 20 Work Session this article describes.
Also read the official City Council Minutes of the the Work Session.

July 21, 2004: Asheville Citizen-Times:  "Concern rasied about watershed: Residents are worried about clear-cuts in the North Fork and Bee Tree areas"    front page Mountains section with color photo of Watershed, article by ACT staff writer Julie Ball. Excerpt: "An existing conservation easement could rule out the possibility of small clear-cuts in the Asheville watershed, a possibility that had raised fears among enviornmental groups and some residents."
Also read our Reaction & Recommendation to the July 20 Work Session this article describes.

July 19, 2004: The Charlotte Observer:  "Purity, profits clash over watersheds: Some towns want to cut timber; others wants forests preserved"    front-page feature article by Bruce Henderson, with color photo of the Asheville Watershed, looks at upcoming decision in Asheville as well as conservation efforts in Woodfin, Bryson City, and Waynesville-- and the results of logging in Mars Hill's watershed. Excerpt: "This week Asheville's City Council will hear recommendations for limited logging on its two adjoining watersheds. Despite official denials, critics suspect the city is interested in more than clearing fire roads of downed logs."

July 15, 2004: Asheville Citizen-Times:  "Asheville should follow other responsible communities and protect watershed from logging"    Guest Commentary by Dee Eggers, Ph.D. who is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department of UNC-Asheville. She lives in Asheville. Excerpt: "At the core of this complex issue is one simple fact: logging our watershed as a way out of a fiscal tight spot is a bad idea."

July 7, 2004: Asheville Citizen-Times: Watershed plan draws critics' fire    Article by Julie Ball quotes Hugh Irwin of the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, "This seems to be the latest effort to turn our water supplies into timber management areas, and I think it is a somewhat disturbing movment." Article also notes the upcoming July 20 presentation to City Council of the proposal.

June 11, 2004: City's Forestry Mangement Proposal made public Forestry Management Plan put on City's web site; directly linked here.
  Our immediate observations: Is this plan a Trojan Horse for commercial logging? Almost no mention made of logging for revenue yet we've been told that's the real motivator; 'forest health' in the plan presumes maximizing commercial timber species at the expense of non-commercial species; 'small' clearcuts 10 to 15 acres recommended along with 50 ft. strips along roads; harm to views from the Blue Ridge Parkway will be, according to the Plan, of "minimal impact" and where occuring will be "more than offset by the multiple benefits from the activity." No mention made of how logging will improve water quality--'cause it won't. No mention of risk to water quality by mistakes while logging. No cost-benefit analysis done. Warning: read between the lines.     (SVABP's Quick Analysis sent to City Council on June 14)

June 9, 2004: SVABP letter to City Council Rep. Carl Mumpower  Responding to his request for list of our questions/points about upcoming "Forestry Management Program" proposal presentation on 6/15/04

May 24, 2004: SVABP's email to Mayor Worley and the Asheville City Council  Sunday May 23 ACT article (see link below) raises serious management questions

May 23, 2004: Asheville Citizen Times: "Buncombe man claims city's watershed tours policy varies "  City Manager says forester did not have permission to take group on tour; local group asks for investigation

April 26, 2004: SVABP's letter to Mayor Charles Worley requesting investigation of City Manager's actions This letter gives a summary of the credibility issue with details

* * * * * *

Overview of the Proposed Forestry Management Plan
for the 22,000-acre City of Asheville Watershed

BACKGROUND: In 1987 with almost no public input, the City of Asheville let a contract to clearcut 51 acres of land on the City's 22,000-acre watershed located outside Black Mountain. The local community organized into "Citizens Against Clearcutting in the Asheville Watershed" CACAW (an affiliate of the Western North Carolina Alliance) and led a successful four year effort to stop the clearcutting. In the mid-1990s, much of the Asheville Watershed was put under a conservation easement.
       Until recently no further logging was done and none proposed. Then, in the summer of 2003, David Hanks, Interim Director of the Water Resources Department stated in a news article that for "access" and "fire danger" reasons, the City had undertaken to develop a forestry management plan that might include logging.
       The Swannanoa Valley Alliance for Beauty and Prosperity(SVABP), the organization that grew out of CACAW, wrote to Mr. Hanks on July 10, 2003 asking for a watershed tour to see on-the-ground the problems associated with his claim that "access" and "fire danger" necessitated a logging option.
  Twice SVABP was denied access based on "security concerns" post 9/11. However, SVABP discovered that an educational tour had taken place.
      The apparent misrepresentation of the facts by the City Manager and the Interim Director of the Water Resources Department raised a second important question: Could the public believe what City officials were telling them? Concluding that that issue might be more important than the forestry plan itself and after receiving no response from the Mayor, the SVABP went public with the concern.
     In the links above, you will find, in reverse chronological order, information about the 'credibility issue' as well as information about the forestry plan itself which was made public June 11. Your involvement is important if the citizens of Asheville and Buncombe County are to make a constructive impact on that plan.

Your voice really does count. Please contact your representatives TODAY!

Click Here for Email Addresses/Links