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High Country WATCH Press Release

Hello from Boone, the high country so many people flood to for vacation, fresh air, outdoor

recreation, and second home sites. The scenic gateway to this mountain retreat is in danger of

moving toward one of an industrial setting. So here is the story.

High Country WATCH, Wataugans Against Toxins close to home, is a group of self-organized,

non-partisan citizens that came together around a kitchen table to work to protect clean air,

water, and aesthetics of this beloved mountain county.

When we initially learned that an asphalt company planned to open operations in our

neighborhood we began to investigate what that would mean for our quality of life. We came

to learn that there were extensive chemical hazards emitted from the plants that put certain

groups most at risk for health issues. Those were the young, old, asthmatic, and those who play

and exercise outdoors.

As we dug deeper we realized that the county and state regulations we had felt were

protecting us were woefully lacking in strength. In setting about to protect our own backyards

we came to realize we needed to look at the guidelines that were meant to protect our entire

county of citizens and their properties. We started by looking at the Citizens Plan for Watauga

County and our land ordinances.

Most alarming of all was the information found in the air quality permit application for the

proposed plant. The company stated in their own words and numbers the tonage of chemicals

they planned to emit after controls were in place. The numbers were staggering. And

astonishingly, these emissions are all legal under North Carolina law.

Since that time by working together with the commissioners we have been moving forward

making significant gains for the counties citizens as related to High Impact Land Use. We are not

fully there yet, but we are listening to each other and advancing toward better protections for

all citizens and their properties in our beautiful high country.

As our group moves forward, even with the accomplishments made, a dark cloud looms before

us. That same asphalt company that had it’s permit revoked, due to our efforts, will next

month appear before our county Board of Adjustments to appeal their revocation. We, as

citizens, will spend our own personal funds to pay for representation at the hearing.

But make no mistake this is not only a Watauga issue. There are over 100 of these plants

operating and spewing out chemicals into our breathing space daily.


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