The Transylvania Times -

TNRC Supports Landslide Mapping Project


September 14, 2017

The Transylvania Natural Resources Council (TNRC) will recommend that the county commissioners fund a landslide-mapping project. A subcommittee was tasked to study the pros and cons of funding a map for high-risk areas in the county after the Appalachian Landslide Consultants (ALC) gave a presentation to the TNRC in February.

TNRC board member Davis Whitfield-Cargile was a member of the subcommittee. During the TNRC’s regular meeting last week, he said Kevin Shook, the county’s Emergency Management director, supports asking the commissioners for funding. An estimated cost for the mapping is $158,000 as reported in the Feb. 20 edition of The Transylvania Times.

Jennifer Bauer and Steve Fuemmeler, the ALC owners, told the TNRC in February that the state had created a landslide mapping service after the 2004 hurricanes Frances and Ivan. The funding was eliminated in 2011. Bauer told the council that 46 people had died in landslides in Western North Carolina since the 1916 storm that broke the Lake Toxaway dam.

Hurricane Ivan caused the Peaks Creek mudslide in Franklin County that destroyed 16 homes and killed three people after 8 inches of rain fell in one night.

Bauer told the TNRC that she had mapped 28 landslides in Transylvania County and one older deposit. The main kinds of landslides are debris flows and weather rockslides, and 69 percent of all known landslides occur on natural slopes. Bauer showed photos of landslides in the Indian Hills neighborhood, Connestee Falls, and photos of the manufactured home that slid down the hill on U.S. 64 past Rosman. The manufactured home still sits there.

Whitfield-Cargile mentioned some pros and cons of hiring ALC, and said that added benefits of a map would be for debris flow and for fire planning.

“The pro side ranges from helping property owners understand their risks to emergency management planning, evacuating and how to protect downstream properties,” he said. “We found two major cons. One is a concern that property owners may think that the mapping may lead to a new ordinance on steeper properties. Property owners will want to know if they have to disclose this information when they sell, and we expect property owners to come to the county and say, ‘You identified me as having a risk. Help me financially do something about it.’”

ALC has mapped Henderson, Franklin, Macon, Jackson, Buncombe and Watauga counties.

The recently completed Haywood County inventory found 333 landslides in the county. Forty seven of those were on natural slopes, with 28 active landslides and 62 areas that are considered high risk or imminent potential for future landslides. ALC counted about 17,000 acres of older deposits in the county.

ALC takes inventory of an area using a GIS mapping program, identifying areas of slope that are above certain grades, taking into consideration the geology of these areas as well.

“Information is power. It makes a lot of sense to ask the county to fund this,” said Whitfield-Cargile.


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