Environmentally Speaking

Ever wonder what environmental issues people in North Carolina frequently encounter? Staff in the state environmental agency’s assistance and customer service program hear from the public every day via the department’s toll-free hotline, and the questions people ask reveal a lot about the issues North Carolinians are seeking assistance with when it comes to the environment.   The issues might surprise you.

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A recent letter to the New Bern Sun Journal explains how the McCrory administration is funding water infrastructure projects to help cities and towns tackle water infrastructure needs before they become emergencies. To read the letter by Kim Colson, Director of DEQ’s Division of Water Infrastructure, click here: http://www.newbernsj.com/article/20160429/OPINION/160428767   

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The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality recently received a letter from the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that commends the department for completing the State of North Carolina’s 2007-2015 Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards and for its “continued efforts in environmental protection for the State of North Carolina.” The triennial review is a federal requirement that requires states to review their water quality standards every three years. This is the first triennial review North Carolina has completed since 2007.

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A project that will create treehouses with overnight accommodations is underway through a $95,000 grant from the McCrory administration to the town of Windsor.  The water-based recreation project, located next to the historic Cashie River, will create the first fully handicap accessible treehouse village.   The funding was used for land acquisition, a boardwalk, and construction of the tree houses. Town officials plan to launch an online reservation system for booking overnight stays in the treehouses. The project is expected to be completed in Oct. 2016.  

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A recent letter to the Winston-Salem Journal described the McCrory administration’s efforts to clean up and close every coal ash pond in the state while taking extra steps to protect minority communities. To read the letter from Tom Reeder, Assistant Secretary for the Environment, click here: http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/the-readers-forum-thursday-letters/article_3170983a-441a-5101-a901-799181e88eb6.html  

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DEQ is issuing special air quality forecasts for areas affected by smoke from the large wildfires that are burning in Brunswick and Hyde counties. The Hyde County fire quickly grew to a blaze covering about 14,000 acres of land along U.S. Highway 264 north of Engelhard. The Brunswick County fire spread across 1,500 acres close to the highly-populated Wilmington area. Photo courtesy of the NC Forest Service

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Earth Day is Friday, April 22, and there are many environmental education events to mark the occasion throughout North Carolina. A wide variety of fun, family-oriented activities are planned that incorporate music, games and outdoor recreation. These opportunities are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and discover ways to care for our environment. To help you find events in your area on Earth Day and through April, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs compiles an online calendar on their website, eenorthcarolina.org.

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Many public universities and community colleges in North Carolina are improving their waste reduction efforts by better educating people and creating more recycling opportunities on campuses, according to a survey conducted by the McCrory administration’s environmental department. The survey asked publicly funded colleges to weigh in on their strategies for managing waste and recycling. The results of the survey were eye-opening: The 61 responding colleges recycled 19,000 tons of materials, or 34 percent of the waste they managed in fiscal 2014-15.

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