Western North Carolina Alliance

Western North Carolina Alliance: Voice for the WNC Region

The Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA) is a 28 year-old grassroots organization that empowers citizens to be advocates for livable communities and the natural environment of Western North Carolina.

In 2009 WNCA helped:

  • Advocate for passage of the Mountain Resources Planning Act, which creates a permanent commission to study land use and growth issues in the mountains;
  • Win appeals of U.S. Forest Service logging projects, including one that threatened Harmon Den, putting old growth at risk along the trails in that area;
  • Lead citizen advocacy around a proposed logging project near Henderson County’s Trace Ridge Trail in Pisgah National Forest, stressing instead the need to maintain the trail by controlling invasives and restoring the forest community there;
  • Generate public attendance and comments at the public hearing regarding Corridor K, a proposed segment of a network of highways planned to link Asheville with Chattanooga. The N.C. Department of Transportation is proposing to relocate US 74 from Robbinsville to Stecoah in Graham County, including constructing a four-lane, divided highway from U.S. 129 to N.C. 28;
  • Coordinate a federal stimulus grant employing local citizens to control exotic invasive plants along the Cheoah River in Graham County;
  • Work with our Watauga River Conservation Partners chapter to secure over $500,000 for stream restoration on the Upper Watauga River.

WNCA has been a powerful voice since 1982 when Esther Cunningham of Macon County organized her neighbors in a successful to halt oil and gas prospecting in Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests. Since then we have:

  • Surveyed and delineated more than 78,000 acres old growth trees in Nantahala/Pisgah National Forests;
  • Convinced the Forest Service to eliminate clear-cutting as a logging practice;
  • Led successful advocacy for the Clean Smoke Stacks Law;
  • Created programs to control exotic invasive plants on public lands; and
  • Helped defeat the North Shore Road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Executive Director Julie V. Mayfield has led WNCA since June 2008 when she came here from Atlanta where she was a Sustainability Scholar in Residence at Emory University. Earlier she was Vice President and General Counsel for the Georgia Conservancy. She received a B.A. degree in Religion from Davidson College and a Law  degree from Emory University School of Law, where she was a Woodruff Fellow.

Bob Gale has worked on Public Lands issues at WNCA since 1998. He was Director of Field Operations in Wetlands Science for Ballantine Environmental Resources at Hilton Head Island and was active for many years in North and South Carolina Sierra Club organizations. He holds a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies of Geology and Biology from the University of South Carolina.

Ryan Griffith joined WNCA in 2007 and currently serves as its Community Outreach Manager. A graduate from Warren Wilson College with a B.A. in Environmental Policy, Ryan did legal internship work with the Southern Environmental Law Center, was an environmental activist in Alaska, and a Sierra Club chapter organizer in Pennsylvania.

AmeriCorps/VISTA volunteer Rachael Bliss helps with fundraising, volunteer recruitment and media work. A graduate of The University of Iowa with a B.A. degree in Mass Communications, she has worked for a number of grassroots organizations in Tennessee, including the Tennessee Clean Water Network and Kingsport Citizens for a Cleaner Environment.

Contact Info: 828-258-8737; www.wnca.org.