Western Carolina University
Environmental Sustainability Report
Western Carolina University
is located in a scenic rural valley between the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky
Mountains, fifty miles west of Asheville. The location, at the southern end of
Cullowhee valley in the heart of the Tuckasegee River basin, gives it an
unusually attractive setting. The
campus consists of beautifully wooded areas and modern academic, student
residence, recreation, and athletic facilities. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Great
Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee Indian Reservation, Fontana Lake, and
numerous resort areas are nearby.
WCU is taking a lead role in the nation in applying
computer technology in education. With the beginning of fall semester of 1998,
WCU became the first public university in North Carolina, and one of 12 public
universities nationwide, to require freshmen students to come to campus with
personal computers. Computers allow freshmen to enhance their academic
experience by taking advantage of the extensive technological support system
that exists on the WCU campus. The May 2000 issue of Yahoo! Internet Life
magazine named WCU one of the 100 "most wired" universities in the
WCU is pleased to be a participant in the state’s
sustainability efforts as indicated by the numerous efforts described. The contact person for WCU is Andrew B.
Comrie “Andy” Director of Physical Plant, 828-227-7441.
On Campus - WCU has numerous on-going environmental efforts, particularly
in the recycling of natural and man-made products.
Food waste - cafeterias edible food waste is collected and distributed to
area live stock operations, significantly reducing the county landfill waste
Hardwoods - the WCU campus is blessed with many trees. As available, any
hardwoods felled, trimmed, etc. are donated to the Jackson County Council on
Aging. Through the JCCA program F.I.R.E this wood is distributed to elderly
individuals in need of winter heating fuel.
Mulch - the University grounds department chips brush and tree debris for use
as bedding mulch.
Compost - All leaves, of which there are many on campus in the fall, are
composted for use as a soil enriching amendment.
Cardboard, paper, and aluminum products recycling - an extensive campus-wide
program and effort is in place to recycle these products.
Used oil and tires - the University Motor Pool oversees the environmentally
correct disposition of used oil and tires. Oil is sent to a recycling center
while tires are destined to a shredding plant in cooperation with the county
Shipping Pallets - pallets which are damaged or otherwise non-reusable are
stored throughout the year and used in the fall for the University Homecoming
bonfire and the local high school homecoming bonfire. This effort keeps a
significant amount of material out of the county landfill waste stream.
Off campus - Western Carolina University is committed to several
environmentally significant programs in association with area resources, most
notably the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
National Park Service Blue Ridge Parkway Cooperative - to promote increased
stewardship of the park’s scenic resources by providing park management and
six neighboring counties with information about visitors’ viewing preferences
and willingness to pay for those views. A grant from the National Park
Understanding Instream Flow Requirements for Low Flow Stream Systems - to
develop criteria for quantifying the stream flows required to support riparian
ecosystems. Develop criteria essential for maintaining or restoring stream
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Stygobromus Inventory - complete survey
of fauna stygobomus sparsus and fecundus. Fecundus is found in only one location
and may be eligible for federal listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Senior Scientist Mentors Program of the Dreyfus Foundation - Spruce-fir
forests located at several high elevation sites in North Carolina have recently
suffered severe die back attributed to acidic deposition and the balsam woolly
adelgid. It is believed that these factors may also be contributing to the
Fraser fir decline. Study is to find parallels to prevent or slow this decline.
Sedimentation/Erosion Control Design Workshops - Non-point source pollution,
such as sedimentation, has been identified as a primary threat to water quality
in western North Carolina. Information and training workshops have been
developed to educate professionals and individuals in how and why to design and
implement erosion and sediment measures.
Evaluation of Nutrient Loading from Tributaries to Santeelah Lake - conduct
evaluation of current nutrient outflow from all five streams. Results will
provide quantified data on the magnitude and fluctuation of phosphorous loads
relative to nutrient input to the streams from trout farms and other natural and
Economic Benefits and Costs of Riparian Ecosystem Restoration and Protection
in the Little Tennessee River Watershed - estimate the benefits and costs of
riparian restoration on the Little Tennessee River using data and information
provided by the Coweeta experiment station.
Gorges Rare Plant Survey Project - locate and identify populations of rare
plant species for protection during development of park facilities and
subsequent human activity threats to plant species.
Wetland Research in the Great Smoky Mountains Park - research to make broad
management recommendations for protecting these ecosystems.
Building Sustainable Communities - develop practical management approach for
local government and other local community-based organizations to address the
growth and environmental issues faced in these communities.
Group Foraging of the Pine Sawfly - study to provide data on colony
survivorship and defoliating potential of this gregarious species.
BS and an MS in Environmental Science - Western Carolina University has
recently received authorization to establish these career path degree programs.
Contact: Andy Comrie