TNRC Report to the Board of Commissioners 10-26-2015
Transylvania Natural Resources Council Report to the Board of Commissioners
October 26, 2015
As required by the Board of Commissioners, the annual report of the Transylvania Natural Resources Council (TNRC) is hereby submitted.
The Transylvania Natural Resources Council was created in 2004 to identify and inventory the natural resources significant to the County and to make recommendations to the BOC on how to best manage those resources. The inventory was completed in April, 2008 by Edward Schwartzman of the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. A subsequent revision to the bylaws submitted to BOC in October 2015 reflects changes adopted by the BOC in the manner of appointment of members and in the composition of the TNRC.
TNRC activities over the past 12 months have included a major conference titled “Whose Water is it Anyway?” held at the Porter Center on November 15, 2014. Peter Chaveas presented a report on this conference to the BOC at a regular meeting on February 9, 2015. To review, this conference was attended by approximately 200 people and consisted of panel discussions from state, regional, and local officials focused on the importance of water and the French Broad River to Transylvania County. Commissioners approved a budget of $5,000 for this conference which was used to defray expenses. During the February meeting, Commissioners and the Manager stressed the need for continued discussion of this issue with an eye toward the future.
Additionally, TNRC continues its community education series by providing a series of panel discussion and question and answer sessions at each meeting of the Council. To as great an extent as possible, presenters are asked to answer questions relating to what natural resources are important to their activities, what are the economic impacts of that activity, what are their concerns relative to natural resources, and what county polices or procedures would be important to their future success. A listing of presenters is attached. Though our meeting time, the second Friday of each month September through May at 9:00 a.m., does not lend itself to significant public participation, TNRC does enjoy extensive circulation of these discussions through coverage by the Transylvania Times. We publically acknowledge the importance of this coverage to our mission of promoting the importance of our natural resources to the welfare of the county.
On March 9, 2015 TNRC presented to Commissioners a proposed job description and rationale for the creation of a County Natural Resources Specialist position. This document is currently being staffed to eliminate redundancy and to assess need. In light of an emerging need for engineering services in the areas of water and sewage treatment, TNRC urges serious consideration of this position during FY 2016 budget proceedings. A copy of this proposal is attached.
Changes in membership:
October 1, 2014 Eric Caldwell is promoted out of the county
March 9, 2015 Converted County Extension Agent to “At Large”, to serve as facilitator
March 25, 2015 Lee McMinn appointed chair
June 9, 2015 David Whitmire appointed to represent Town of Rosman*
July 1, 2015 Bart Renner appointed Director, Extension Services
*The appointment of Mr. Whitmire to represent Rosman created an additional at large opening for a concerned citizen. Applications are being accepted.
Community Education Forum Speakers
November 2014-Whose Water is it Anyway?
Ryke Longest Director, Environmental Law and Public Policy Center
Keith Webb Vice President, McGill Associates
David Whitmire Headwaters Outfitters
David Morris Oskar Blues
Bill Dowbiggin Vice President, CDM Smith
Mitch Peele Executive Director, NC Farm Bureau Federation
Jaime Laughter Manager, Transylvania County
Mac Morrow Transylvania County Historical Society
December 2014 – Review of “Whose Water is it Anyway”
January 2015 – Headwaters State Forest Michael Cheek, Supervising Ranger
February 2015 – Discussion of future projects
March 2015 – The Importance of ‘Friends’ Carlton Murray, Director, Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Assoc.
Devon Gentry, Friends of Dupont Forest
Larry Ragsdale, Friends of Gorges State Park
April 2015 – Growing Sustainably
Rand Burgess, Tourism Development Authority
Wes Dickson, Owner, Sycamore Cycles
David Whitmire, Fish and Wildlife Council
May 2015 – Field trip to Dupont State Recreational Forest
Jason Guidry, Supervising Ranger, Dupont State Recreational Forest
September 2015 – The Importance of Agriculture to Transylvania County
Bart Renner, Director, N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
Brittany Whitmire – Owner, Busy Bee Farm
Scott Sullivan – Owner, East Fork Farm
October 2015 – Protecting the Swamp Pinks-mitigating the negative effects of development on the environment
Devin Gentry, CFAIA Director of Programs and Partnerships
TO: Transylvania County Commissioners
FROM: Transylvania Natural Resources Council
RE: Proposal for a County Natural Resources Specialist
Rationale: Natural resources are the life blood of Transylvania County. Because we are a headwaters county, a ‘destination’ location and home to some of North Carolina’s premier public lands, our natural resources are of crucial economic and cultural importance for a successful future. Concern for our environment is also associated with deep seated local passions and strongly held opinions. Currently our leaders are faced with the difficult task of creating policy, collaborations and management structures to protect, develop and wisely use those resources now and for succeeding generations. In doing so, they will need to balance the concerns of the many different entities that have a stake in the decisions to be made and the actions to be taken.
Over the past 3 years the TNRC has gathered input on the viewpoints of stakeholders through discussions with local businesses, public lands managers, elected officials and private citizens from many walks of life. Open-ended responses to the audience evaluation conducted following last November’s “Whose Water Is It Anyway?” conference showed that the public is seeking more and better information about current water and other natural resource issues. Citizens are also anxious to hear from their elected officials and policy makers about timely steps being taken to address the community’s water related challenges and they want evidence those officials are working in a manner that involves close collaboration among county and municipal entities.
To respond to these challenges and to the recommendations emanating from the Balancing Nature and Commerce workshop held in March of 2014, the TNRC proposes that our county establish a staff position specifically assigned to natural resource planning, management, policy, education and facilitation of collaborative efforts, including strategic planning.
- Commercial activity associated with agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, camps and recreation all involve matters of policy. There is a mountain of data available about natural resources and economic opportunities. Transylvania will benefit from having staff with the expertise to gather and prioritize this data for the needs of local decision makers.
- In addition to public departments there are many boards and commissions, non-profit organizations and civic groups whose priorities include natural resource use and management. Transylvania will benefit from having staff to facilitate and connect these groups to make best use of their human and financial resources.
- Infrastructure development and Federal and State financial support for the same is bound by many regulatory mandates, rules and requirements. Transylvania will benefit from having staff with multi-agency connections and expertise to take the lead in navigating natural resources strategic plans.
- Our citizens have many different perspectives about how best to manage our natural resources. However, meaningful dialog and effective action above all depend on public education, as was shown by the positive response to the 2014 water conference. Transylvania County will benefit from having staff to produce public information materials and facilitate targeted educational programs.
Proposed objectives and programs to be the responsibility of the Natural Resources Specialist position:
- Natural resource elements of the Comprehensive Plan
- Watershed plans and ordinances
- Staff support to natural resource related Boards and Commissions
- Comprehensive resource inventory/database
- Water resources studies and projects
- Energy conservation studies and projects
- Waste management studies and projects
- Stewardship and design of future parks and open spaces
- Represent the interests of Transylvania in working with leadership of public lands
- Represent Transylvania in working with state and federal agency programs related to natural resources
- Represent Transylvania County in regional natural resource planning and management activities
- Natural resource aspects of historic and cultural resource preservation efforts
Proposed essential functions of the Natural Resources Specialist position
- Leadership in preparing county watershed assessment and management plans
- Provide staff support to the Transylvania Natural Resources Council (TNRC)
- Liaison for county to natural resources use and preservation advocacy groups operating in county and the region
- Liaison for county technical services (related to wastewater, storm water, drinking water, etc.) to commissioners regarding regulatory and environmental impact issues.
- Work with Cooperative Extension, SWCD, T.C. Parks and Recreation, NCFS, USFS, and DENR to implement educational programs targeted at local audiences for local needs
- Be the point of contact for the County on natural resource related issues
- Maintain website to help county residents learn about natural resources issues, state and local regulations and planning, education opportunities, organization meetings, etc.
- Assistance with policy analysis for county and city leadership on natural resources topics
- Responsible for building and maintaining positive and productive working relationships with managers and programs of public lands within our borders
- Responsible for representing the County in all public lands planning activities
- Manage specialists hired with grant funds for special natural resource education, watershed management, water quality monitoring and related projects
- Assist with the City of Brevard and Transylvania County Comprehensive plans as they relate to natural resource planning and management
- Participate in regional natural resource planning and management activities on behalf of the County
- Responsible for maintaining repository for all information and data related to Transylvania County’s natural resources
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS DESIRED
- Demonstrated knowledge and familiarity with natural resource issues facing our community.
- High proficiency in use of personal computers, GIS.
- Demonstrated ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with representatives of state, federal and local government, the public, and volunteer interest groups
- Demonstrated ability to organize, analyze and effectively communicate in oral and written form and to analyze objectives and determine effective courses of action.
- Program of study that includes background in natural resources, planning and outreach
- 5 or more years’ progressively responsible experience in similar position
- Valid N.C. Drivers license, ability to lift and carry 25 lbs