ECO’s mission is to preserve the natural heritage of Henderson County and the mountain region as an effective voice for the environment. We fulfill this mission through focusing on four key areas: green infrastructure, water quality, energy conservation/renewable energy and recycling. Founded 20 years ago as a hiking group, we became increasingly alarmed by the degradation of the environment. Since then, ECO has risen to become a preeminent and influential leader in promoting environmental issues affecting our region. We work with citizens, business leaders, like-minded environmental groups and government officials to create a balance between growth and environmental preservation. We undertake water quality monitoring of six watersheds, adopt-a-stream cleanup of dozens of waterways, public policy development towards natural heritage protections, energy expos, workshops and forums to encourage greater stewardship of our environment and recycling programs and activities that encourage sustainable practices.
ECO’s Focus Areas
Protecting Water Quality
WNC is blessed with many watersheds that give life to the most biologically diverse region in any temperate zone in the world. However our streams are threatened by increasing degradation as a result of erosion, sedimentation and stormwater runoff caused by increased development. ECO’s Water Quality Committee works to protect water quality by testing and monitoring over thirty streams in six watersheds through chemical testing (VWIN), biomonitoring, bacterial testing, Adopt-A-Stream watershed stewardship, annual Big Sweep stream cleanup and newly formed Stream Watch Action Teams (SWAT).
The ECO Recycling Committee promotes city, county and regional recycling including curb-side pick-up, and advocacy towards improved recycling programs. The committee educates the public and policymakers about best practices by speaking at Commission meetings, publicly advocating for more proactive recycling, holding public forums, and organizing eco-tours to locations that better inform citizens and policymakers on steps that can be taken to become better stewards.
Advancing Green Infrastructure/Environmental Public Policy
The Green Infrastructure Committee advocates forward-thinking public policies that protect open space, watersheds, sensitive habitats and balance growth with protection of our natural heritage. The committee researches positive examples from the region, engages with scientists and experts, organizes and educates the public and holds forums to discuss important natural heritage protection issues.
Promoting Energy Conservation and Green Energy Alternatives
The Southeast relies on coal for the majority of its energy needs; however its extraction requires removal of mountains and destruction of streams and its use damages air quality and public health. The Energy Committee holds educational forums, hands-on workshops, expos and active energy conservation programs in conjunction with area schools, organizations, churches, citizens’ groups and businesses to promote a greener, more sustainable energy future.