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Environmental Advocacy & Sustainability

Jackson County is 491 square miles of mountainous land in western North Carolina and home to many natural and historic sites; recently it has seen an increase in tourism both in number of tourists and dollars spent (, 2010). Natural sites bordering and within the county, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest, and heritage sites such as the Cherokee Qualla Boundary draw thousands of visitors annually. Over time the effects of a steadily growing tourism industry began to affect the quality of life for residents and threaten the existence of the natural and cultural environment. Increased traffic brought air pollution and noise, construction degraded the scenery and the quality of the land in the area, and ancient sites such as the Native American hieroglyphs found on Judaculla Rock saw erosion and decay from years of improper protection from the elements. 

To work toward the solution to the problems faced in Jackson County, sustainable practices have been planned and, in many instances, implemented to maintain the quality of the land and resources, reserving them for future use, and protecting the quality of life and scenery enjoyed by residents. Sourced from “A Case Study of Sustainable in Jackson County, North Carolina” by Cynthia S. Deale, Shardae D. Brown, Kristine M. Miller, Emily M. Elders and Carrie Blaskowski.

Community Partners that actively work with WCU in the Environmental Advocacy & Sustainability focus area are listed below. If you are interested in working on a project with one of these organization, please contact the CCESL office. For all volunteer opportunities, visit the CCESL Engage page.

Environmental Action Community

Create opportunities to experience the outdoors, respond to climate challenges, and promote a resilient mountain environment.

Friends of Panthertown

The mission of Friends of Panthertown is to work in a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to conserve Panthertown as a backcountry natural resource and to enable sustainable recreation.

Mainspring Conservation Trust

Our goal is to conserve and restore the lands and waters of the Southern Blue Ridge, and to connect the people to these natural treasures.


MountainTrue champions resilient forests, clean waters, and healthy communities in the Southern Blue Ridge.

WATR, Watershed Association of the Tuckasegee River

WATR is a grassroots organization working to improve your water quality and habitat of the Tuckasegee River Basin. The Tuckasegee River watershed supplies the drinking water and ecosystem foundation for Swain and Jackson Counties. What happens upstream, downstream, and all around the watershed impacts all of us directly.

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