Saving wolves, picking up trash – Appalachia


A new environmental invention and the decline of the red wolf population were the focus of the latest installment of the university’s springtime sustainability film series.

The Office of Sustainability presented the documentaries “Red Wolves’ Last Stronghold” and “Pervasive Problem, Imperative Partnerships” on March 29 at the Belk Library.

“Pervasive issues, imperative partnerships,” chronicled the relationship between Asheville GreenWorks, MountainTrue and the City of Boone. Asheville GreenWorks utilizes volunteer-led conservation projects in and around Buncombe County. MountainTrue advocated for socio-environmental justice for the Southern Blue Ridge Mountain region.

“What I found about this project that was so intriguing were the friendships that have now led to Trash Trout being set in the town of Boone,” said Matt Groce, the film‘s director, during the screening.

by Boone Trash trout, a device made up of recycled fencing and pontoons used to collect trash from river basins, was installed at Winkler Creek in May. Groce said the Trash Trout collected more than 63,000 pieces of trash.

The Trash Trout team documented 14 cleanups of Boone’s Trash Trout from June to March of this year. Polystyrene foam represented 74% of all waste collected.

“(Styrofoam) takes a very long time to degrade. And when it breaks down, it lets out a bunch of chemicals and seeps into our groundwater and soil, said Hannah Woodburn, MountainTrue Watershed Coordinator.

Woodburn makes it easy to find water samples from the state water supply. Microplastics, invisible plastic debris, were found in every water sample taken by his team, including surface water and rainwater. Recent studies also highlight microplastics in human blood.

“It seeps into all these different layers of our brain, our organs, and even though BPA has been banned, there are other molecules that are mirror images of it,” Woodburn said. Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical found in plastics and can disrupt biological processes in humans.

Andy Hill, Watauga River Guardian and Regional Manager for MountainTrue in the High Country, thinks Boone’s trout have been well received by the community.

“Across the board, people said, ‘This is amazing, we need more,’” Hill said. “It’s been a great engagement tool.”

George Santucci, sustainability and special projects manager for the town of Boone, said he is actively looking for more efficient and attractive solutions for the outside community. He thinks companies implementing sustainability initiatives could be a good place to start.

“In my opinion, the best way to start is with a targeted incentive program,” Santucci said. “Telling people what to do is not a good way to go. People who want to listen will listen. People who don’t want to listen will just scare you away.

Sustainability Ambassador Vivienne Taylor seeks to advance the university’s mission of environmental stability.

“I think there are a lot of misconceptions about sustainability, not just at App but in general. A lot of people may overlook individual efforts because mathematically it’s insignificant,” said Taylor, a student in sustainable development.”But, when you look at the local level, it can really make or break the water and air quality of a community, and even the fabric of a community.”

“Red Wolves’ Last Stronghold” focused on the near extinction of Eastern Red Wolves and the fight for their survival. The film was developed by the Wildlands Network with funding from the National Wildlife Refuge Association.

According to National Association of Wildlife Refuges website“There is positive interest from the general public that this uniquely American species has returned to its historic range, making its rightful contribution to our North American wildlife heritage.

The next feature in the Spring Sustainability Film Series will feature “DOCUAPPALACHIA” and “Wildlife and LandscapesApril 12 in room 114 of the Belk Library.

CORRECTION: Due to miscommunication in reference to the event, sources related to the second film have been removed.


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