The Transylvania Times -

TNRC Approves Resolution Supporting Ecusta Trail – Transylvania County, NC


Last updated 1/20/2020 at 3:11pm

Sean Trapp

The proposed Ecusta Trail would connect Brevard with Hendersonville, much of the now defunct rail line sits in Transylvania County.

The Transylvania Natural Resources Council (TNRC) recently voted on a resolution supporting the concept of the Ecusta Hike/Bike Trail, as well as to elect Stephanie Adams as the chairperson to succeed Lee McMinn.

During its recent regular meeting, the TNRC also heard presentations from Asheville Greenworks and heard updates from area land managers.

The council had discussed several versions of the resolution to support the Ecusta Trail and is now waiting to submit its support to the Board of Commissioners "until at least next month." The council voted in favor of the memo with the purpose described as "to express support for the expansion of recreational opportunities by endorsing the concept of the Ecusta Hike/Bike Trail."

The proposed trail between the cities of Hendersonville and Brevard, as it is envisioned, is a 19-mile Biking and Hiking trail that would use the currently abandoned rail line that used to run to the Ecusta plant.

Friends of The Ecusta Trail was founded in 2009 as a volunteer organization to advocate for the purchase and development of the proposed Ecusta Trail.

Their efforts have included garnering endorsements for the trail by the cities of Brevard and Hendersonville, the town of Laurel Park and Henderson County commissioners, in addition to nearly 50 other nonprofits and organizations throughout Western North Carolina. Transylvania County government, however, has been a hold out.

"Over the past several years Transylvania County government has been neutral on the Ecusta Rails to Trails concept because the rail line is owned by a private company, which has been actively marketing its asset for rail use," said Commission Chairman Mike Hawkins in a prepared statement last summer about the project. "The Board of Commissioners considers this rail line a key component of economic development infrastructure for our county. That said, the board has never had ownership or control over the rail line and does not typically take positions on the business activities of property owners, as long as they meet all applicable laws. Watco (the railway line owners) is free to value and utilize its asset however it sees fit, within federal, state and local regulations.


Transylvania County Solid Waste Director Kenn Webb introduced the presenters for January's meeting and discussed the importance of combating litter in the community and educating the community about the proper ways to recycle.

Asheville Greenworks' Joele Emma spoke about her role as the director of education with the nonprofit.

She spends her time helping to organize community members who are already interested in recycling and cleaning up litter.

Emma reported her organization counted over 61,000 pounds of trash were collected last year by the roadside and during river cleanups.

Greenworks helped build a "Trash Trout" in Hendersonville on Mud Creek, which helps collect trash from Mud Creek before it gets swept downstream into the French Broad.

Other initiatives in 2019 include elementary school lunch composting, "Hard to Recycle" events and "cart tagging," where volunteers walk neighborhoods and see if residents are recycling the right things in their bins.

Jan Foster from Waste Reduction Partners talked about how she helps local businesses and organizations reduce their landfill waste. Foster discussed her organization's collaborative approach to finding waste solutions for business, manufacturing, agriculture and education partners throughout the state.

Foster said she is working with Emma and Greenworks to bring a Styrofoam densifier to the region to make Styrofoam recycling possible in Western North Carolina. She is also looking to revitalize domestic recycling markets now that there has been a recent loss of overseas markets.

During the meeting's business portion, Lee McMinn announced he would be stepping down after five-and-a-half years as the TNRC chair.

Adams nominated herself to succeed him with support from the council.

Recreation specialist Mary Smith updated the council on new business in DuPont State Recreational Forest.

Smith said the timber cut is still going on near the Reasonover Creek area of the forest and Conservation Road.

She said the cut should take a few months to complete.

Smith said the bridge that has been out over Reasonover Creek will need to be placed in another location, as the stream bank erosion has made the previous location unviable. Hooker Falls Trail will also soon be rerouted.

Ranger Alyssa Coburn from Gorges State Park gave updates on a new campground soon to begin construction. Coburn expects the campground to be open to the public in 2021 or 2022.

She said traffic has become an increasingly problematic issue for park staff.

She spends the majority of her day parking cars, leaving no time for her to complete her other duties.

After the new campground's construction, the park might have to consider limiting numbers of visitors to the park for safety reasons, she said.

Coburn said another landslide has been found at the Auger Hole Trail but that it should be a relatively quick fix.

David Whitmire from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Council announced that big game harvests were up this year substantially from last.

Whitmire said 482 deer and 66 bear were harvested from Transylvania County, which equated to over 78,000 quarter-pound packages of meat that went to local family's dinner tables from hunting season.

The next TNRC meeting will be from 9 – 11 a.m., Feb. 14, in the Commission Chamber in the county administration building.

Wilderness leadership professor Jennifer Kafsky will be discussing River Keepers and "What do they do?"

The public is welcome to attend.


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