Making Our Mountains Firewise Written by: Laurel Kays The fall of 2016 saw a record breaking fire season in Western North Carolina and across Southern Appalachian Mountains. Drought and high temperatures contributed to large blazes that burned across the region. The...
In recent years, Haywood County’s honey bee populations have grown tremendously. According to an interview with Haywood County’s Extension Director Bill Skelton, there are roughly 3,000 hives in Haywood County alone.
Jackson and Swain Cooperative Extension Services Load-Out Cattle Equipment Project In Western North Carolina, beef cattle have become one of the main agricultural commodities. On any given Monday morning, you will find local beef producers from several WNC counties...
Sunburst Chef & Farmer Project As most people already know, local food is one of the main components to a healthy lifestyle. Over the last decade alone, local farmers markets, restaurants, and supermarkets that keep local produce on their shelves have gained...
Beaverdam Dam Removal Project In the fall of 2016, a project was proposed to remove the dam located in the Beaverdam community of Canton, North Carolina. For years, the dam has been blocking aquatic organisms’ passages into the stream. In December 2015, the dam...
A Stepping Stone to Water Quality in Maggie Valley In December 2016, the Southwestern NC Resource Conservation and Development Council was awarded a $71,000 grant from Duke Energy's Water Resources Fund. This fund is committed to preserving and protecting our...
Southeast RC&D Association Meeting: The Southwestern RC&D Council will host a 9 state, 300 attendee meeting in Cherokee on June 21-24, 2015. Projects discussed will include North Carolina projects as well as top projects from all 9 states. Please visit the official website: www.2015sercdmeeting.org
Our Entire Service Area: The RC&D Council is facilitating informative radio programs and web podcasts for the USDA’s StrikeForce initiative. Purpose of this initiative is to help communities leverage their resources to access programs, promote economic development and create more jobs. Listen to our programs here and here.
Smoky Mountain Ag Development Station: The old Drexel Plant is moving along and a Master Plan based on 2 Community Meetings and a SMADS Committee formerly chaired by the RC&D Council has been completed. Jackson County has now taken leadership for the committee with planner Gerald Green as chairman. The next steps include a building assessment, a decision by the Board of Commissioners to make it a formal project, including regional agriculture activities. A third public meeting in March has been scheduled. A TVA grant by the RC&D Council is being submitted to have portable cattle equipment within the three county area of Jackson, Swain and Macon.
High Tunnel Initiative: The RC&D has been awarded a high tunnel project submitted to the WNC Community Foundation for $22,500 to hire a field specialist part-time to work with high tunnel operators. An additional grant was submitted to ADFP Trust Fund to make it full-time. The position will be a contract position first based in Clay, Cherokee, Macon and Graham Counties. This program is expected to expand to Swain, and Jackson Counties as well as the EBCI as NRCS fills new staff positions.
Smoky Mountain Agriculture Development Strategy: The RC&D is continuing to work on the agriculture economic strategy through ADFP Trust Funds. In addition, the Council was asked to participate in the Agri-Ventures project for a two day meeting in Boone to explore additional needs. Although there are major economic engines, such as cattle, the mountain agriculture is very diverse. Mountain agriculture recognizes the impact of supplemental incomes on low income and impoverished households.
REAP: Four RC&D Councils are teaming up for a REAP grant to work with rural businesses, communities and farms to assess alternative energy projects. In addition the RC&D received a grant to assist NRCS with energy audits and reduction projects using EQIP Funds. Our grant will be used as match for the REAP proposal.
Erosion and Sediment Training: An erosion and sediment training will take place at the Waynesville Farm Service Center in March through our Maggie Valley Project funded by the Pigeon River Fund. Jackson and Swain Contractors will be invited.
Graham County: The first TVA grant to build agriculture capabilities was very successful. From that project we have started the high tunnel initiative, work with cattlemen, honey producers and the Smoky Mountain Ag development strategy. We did edits on the successful fence restoration grant for the SWCD.
Swain County:The RC&D helped Swain SWCD purchase a water table for the education trailer, investigated funding for the Bryson City Greenway and Farmer’s market, and are working with Story Teller, Tim Hall, Bryson City on a living history farm. We funded the Swain County CES 100 year celebration through director, Rob Hawk.
Clay County: Clay County received funding to repair erosion damage on Town Creek. The engineering is being completed by the NC Division of Soil and Water. Construction should begin this spring. The RC&D received funding for an equipment trailer for the Hayesville Market and works extensively with SAFF and other agriculture groups. The RC&D has been asked to help the Clay SWCD find funding for dry hydrants. The Smoky Mountain Agriculture Development project will involve Clay County farmers. The cattle load-out facility is open regionally to all cattlemen. In addition, personal interviews with key farmers and agriculture leaders will be done in Clay County.
Jackson County:With the Drexel Plant located in Whittier, Jackson County has been a focus project for the Smoky Mountain Ag Development Station. Grants from Z Smith Reynolds, ADFP Trust Fund and the WNC Community Foundation have provided resources to carryout this work. The RC&D provided resources for the 100 year celebration of Cooperative Extension Service.
Cherokee County- Marble Elementary School Outdoor Classroom; White Oak Tree Plantings at Cherokee Central Schools (pictured)
Clay County- Brasstown Recreation Track; Jackrabbit Mountain Bike Trail at Lake Chatuge (pictured)
Graham County- Fontana Lake Waste Management Program; Walking Trail at Stecoa Community Center (pictured)
Macon County- Burningtown Creek Stream Restoration; Streambank and Riparian restoration (pictured)
Swain County- Swain County Emergency Watershed Protection Program; Handicap Fishing Pier at 288 Park (pictured)
Jackson County- Pinnacle Park Trail; Demonstration Stream Table for Jackson County Soil & Water Conservation District (pictured)
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians- Oconaluftee River Watershed Program; Walking Bridge in Island Park (pictured)
Haywood County- Canton Watershed Recreation Trails; Installation of Stormwater Treatment Best Management Practices at Bethel Elementary (pictured)