The Environmental Quality Institute

Greener Gifts

Source: Mountain Xpress by Webmaster, 12/13/2011

With dozens of groups and literally thousands of volunteers doing the work that, increasingly, public agencies lack the resources to do, we couldn’t hope to name them all. And when we asked local groups to name their organizational partners, the story swelled exponentially. (RiverLink, for example, sent us a list of more than 300 partners.) So while we regret having to leave out so many worthwhile projects, it’s good to know that concern for the environment is alive and well in Asheville. Here’s a look at what four local groups are up to.

Environmental Quality Institute

“These programs connect volunteers with their local natural resources, promote a sense of stewardship and give grownups a good reason to go splash around in a stream. Our most important partners are the volunteers that do the ground work. Without these concerned citizens, water-quality monitoring would be prohibitively expensive.” – Ann Marie Traylor, project coordinator

What they do: Enlist volunteers to help monitor local streams; analyze water samples; make the resulting data available to the community. Throughout the past 20 years, the data has been used to protect high-quality waters from pollution, track changing water conditions and serve as an early-warning system to water-quality problems. The institute has been operating under the WNC Alliance’s umbrella but expects to become a standalone nonprofit soon.

What they need: Volunteers to collect water samples from local streams each month (the Volunteer Water Information Network) or conduct semiannual biological monitoring (the Stream Monitoring Information Exchange). Training provided.

Wanna help? Visit or contact Ann Marie Traylor (333-0392; email:

Need help? Found a problem with your local stream? Call 333-0392.

Affiliates: Metropolitan Sewerage District, Soil and Water Conservation District, city of Asheville, UNCA, WNC Alliance, etc.


“RiverLink funds greenways and river access points. We hold easements, own Brownfield properties, restore eroded stream banks, educate 5,000 children and empower over 600 volunteers annually. We sponsor the Adopt-a-Stream and Adopt-a-Greenway programs and teach homeowners how to store and direct storm water through Water RICH and LinkingWaters.” – Executive Director Karen Cragnolin

What they do: Promote the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River corridor. River park and greenway development, French Broad River Paddle Trail, WaterRich program, assorted educational and outreach efforts.

What they need: Volunteers to help with stream cleanups, the Adopt-a-Stream program, developing the paddle trail, various office tasks and working with school kids.

Wanna help? Contact Dave Russell (252-8474, ext. 11; email: or visit

Need help? See above.

Partners: Asheville GreenWorks, Asheville Green Opportunitites, the city of Asheville, Buncombe County, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Western Carolina Paddlers.

Asheville GreenWorks

“We love partnerships: It’s what’s kept us thriving all these years.” – Executive Director Susan Roderick

What they do: Community organizing, education and environmental stewardship via grassroots projects such as tree planting, cleanups, litter/recycling campaigns, creating and maintaining green spaces, playground enhancement and neighborhood beautification.

What they need: Grants, partnerships, donations and volunteers.

Wanna help? Volunteers needed in many capacities: To learn more about the possibilities, visit, email or call 254-1776.

Need help? See above.

Partners: City of Asheville, Buncombe County, Danny’s Dumpster, Curbside Management, Rainbow Recycling, etc.

WNC Alliance

“Volunteers supply work that the agencies don’t have funding and staff to do. We’re able to fill that in with volunteer scientists and workers. They’re totally invaluable.” – Staff Ecologist Bob Gale

What they do: Work with residents across the region to protect and preserve land, water and air resources through education and public participation in policy decisions at all levels of business and government.

What they need: Grants, partnerships and donations. Volunteers to serve on governing board, committees and task forces; manage six local chapters; monitor streams and wetlands; help control invasive plants, developing paddle trail, etc.

Wanna help? Call 258-8737, or visit, choose a program area, then contact the appropriate leader.

Need help? See above.

Partners: Americorps Project Conserve, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Community Foundation of WNC, Environmental Quality Institute, National Forests of North Carolina, National Park Service, Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Wild South.

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