Across Appalachia

Notes from all Over

Stories by Megan Perdue

Land Trusts To Preserve 50,000 Acres in Western N.C.

Nine regional land trusts have agreed to a five-year plan aimed at protecting 50,000 acres of Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina. The coalition, known as Blue Ridge Forever, is expecting 8,000 additional acres to come under their protection by the end of 2010. Nearly $110 million in public funds, $32 million from private donations and over $196 million in cash or land value donations from individual property owners went to protect the land.

Blue Ridge Forever focuses on protecting North America’s most biologically diverse temperate forests to offset a 77% increase in development in the region over the last twenty years.

Clean Water Back in the Taps for Penn. Borough

Residents of Bally, Penn., will soon no longer rely on bottled water, thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency’s addition of a new well connected to their public water system. Approximately 1,000 residents have depended on bottled water since the 2003 discovery of local groundwater contamination by 1, 4-dioxane, a substance the EPA considers a probable human carcinogen. Bally’s water supply was polluted during the sixty-year operation of Bally Engineered Structures manufacturing plant, which closed in the mid-90s.

Running for Nature in the New River Trail 50k

One hundred and thirty runners took to the trail for the Third Annual New River Trail 50k run at the New River State Park in Fries, Va., in October.

Prizes were awarded to the top three finalists for each gender in three categories: under 40, over 40, and over 55. Christopher Motta, 26, from Virginia, finished first overall with a time of 3 hours and 33 minutes. Kate Brun, 24, from Georgia, finished fifth overall and first in women’s with a time of 3 hours and 49 minutes.

The 31.1 mile ultramarathon used local and minimal waste products and donated all of its proceeds to the National Committee for the New River.

WVU Named To EPA’s Sustainability Program

West Virginia University recently became the newest member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Sustainability Partnership Program (SPP), a project that designs sustainability plans for organizations in mid-Atlantic states that use large quantities of energy, water and natural resources. The university will help promote the program throughout the state. For more information, visit

Winter Stokes Fears of Bat-Killing Fungus

With the onset of winter and bat hibernation, scientists are cautioning spelunkers to take extra care in cleaning equipment and clothing between outings to prevent the spread of white nose syndrome in bats. The fatal fungus attacks bats as they hibernate; once the fungus infests a cave, 90 to 100 percent of the bats die. Experts are still uncertain what causes the disease or how to combat it, but believe the disease is spread from cave to cave by human activity.

Regional Universities Improve Sustainability Grades, But Still Lag Behind National Average

Universities in Appalachian states still lag behind in sustainability efforts, according to the latest College Sustainability Report Card. Released in late October, the annual report grades universities on their dedication to and implementation of campus sustainability.

For the first time since the report card’s inception, seven schools achieved the highest grade of A, but none were in Appalachia. Schools with grades of A- or higher are disguished as “Overall College Sustainability Leaders.”

The Report Card grades schools on nine categories: administration, climate change and energy, food and recycling, green building, student involvement, transportation, endowment transparency, investment priorities and shareholder engagement.

Regional Schools by Grade

Dickinson College A-
Furman University A-
Virginia Commonwealth University A-
Berea College B+
Clemson University B+
Davidson University B+
Berry College B+
Virginia Tech B+
University of Tennessee-Knoxville B
University of Virginia B
West Virginia University B-
East Kentucky University C+
University of Kentucky C+

To view additional scores, visit

Appalachia Flunks State Energy Ratings… Again

The results are in from the annual State Energy Efficiency Report Card by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and once again most Appalachian states faired poorly.

North Carolina lead the region, coming in at 24 overall. Other nearby states showed improvement in their rankings, with the exception of Kentucky and South Carolina. West Virginia performed the worst, coming in at 43rd.

California was the leader again this year, scoring in first place, while North Dakota finished in the 51st position.

The Energy Efficiency Report Card reviews all 50 states and the District of Columbia on best practices and leadership in energy efficiency measures. Country-wide, the 2010 ratings found a near doubling of state energy efficiency budgets from the 2007 spending levels.

Visit to view the complete list.

Sign Up For National Brownfields Conference

Registration is underway for the 14th annual Brownfields Conference, scheduled for April 3-5, 2011 in Philadelphia.

Co-sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International City/County Management Association, the conference focuses on cleaning up and redeveloping abandoned, underutilized and potentially contaminated properties. The three-day event offers educational sessions on issues facing brownfield practitioners, policy makers and communities.

For more details or to register, visit


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