About this project

The mountainous area of western North Carolina (WNC) has been experiencing rapid growth and this growth is expected to continue. In the past, most development has occurred in the valleys and on less-steep lands. Increasingly, more people want to build and live on steeper slopes and at higher elevations. Community leaders and long-time residents are expressing concerns about losing the resources and views that give this region its unique sense of place.  Land owners and developers are looking for resources to better understand the development challenges that exist in mountainous areas. Local governments are looking for ways to encourage and/or require safer and more responsible development on steep slopes.

In response, the Land-of-Sky Regional Council secured funding from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and established a diverse Mountain Ridge and Steep Slope Protection Advisory Committee to study this issue and develop strategies to promote safer, more responsible and sustainable development. This study provides a comprehensive examination of issues related to steep slope and ridgetop development and suggests a variety of policies, practices, incentives and regulations to address the issues.

Specific issues addressed in the study include:

How the study was conducted:

The Mountain Ridge and Steep Slope Protection Strategies report is the result of a year and a half of research, developing strategies and recommendations and drafting and finalizing the report. It was a collaborative effort involving many individuals and agencies. A Mountain Ridge and Steep Slope Protection Advisory Committee, representing a diverse set of interests and expertise, was formed to oversee this project and develop this report. Its recommendations are offered to government, non-profit and private sector organizations with hopes that they will incorporate them into their practices and take actions to implement them.

The Advisory Committee and staff welcomed public input and involvement throughout the process. Ten separate community input sessions were held in five different WNC counties in May and June, 2007 and approximately 150 citizens and officials attended these.  Key groups, including local government managers and planners, developers, realtors, county sanitarians and others were consulted in separate meetings.  The Advisory Committee`s monthly meetings were open meetings and meeting notices and notes were sent to anyone who requested them.
Land-of-Sky Regional Council (LOSRC) staff coordinated the project and staffed the Advisory Committee.  For more information, contact Bill Eaker or Linda Giltz at LOSRC.

Getting the information out:

Over 1,000 copies of the report have been distributed and over 500 people have heard presentations on the findings and strategies.  LOSRC hosted a workshop for WNC planners in March and staff assisted the local homebuilder and realtor associations establish a new Developer Certification Program to train developers on sustainable building practices.  With additional funding from the Pigeon River Fund, we developed this Building in the WNC Mountains website and are sponsoring Clear Water Contractor workshops in early 2010.