The counties of the Western North Carolina region lie in two distinct physiographic provinces: the Blue Ridge and Piedmont. Separating these two is the Blue Ridge Escarpment, a steep mountain front that marks a change to the lower, rolling topography of the foothills zone of the Piedmont.
Continued development of land leads to several challenges, including the amount municipal governments must spend to provide services to its residents in a changing landscape.
The natural beauty of North Carolina’s mountain region has proven to be one of this area’s greatest economic assets, drawing tourists to enjoy its many state and national recreation areas.
Landslides are the result of natural geologic processes that have worked to shape the landscape among the mountains of North Carolina, and are hazards endemic to mountainous regions all throughout the world.
Food insecurity is popularly believed to be a problem of large cities, but the many rural communities and few major metropolitan centers of Western North Carolina—including areas isolated from much of the rest of the southeast due to the prevalence of mountainous terrain—make food insecurity a rural issue in most of the region.
From the pristine streams and rivers to the towering Blue Ridge Mountains, this analysis of Western North Carolina’s natural resources reports on the vitality of our topography, geology, and biological resources, and the state of our weather and climate, water quality, and air quality.
With generations of experience honed down to an efficient craft, local music, art, heritage, and spiritual values are important elements that reflect all Western North Carolinians. This study observes the region through a lens focused on our population, human health, education, and culture.
Looking at the region’s status on land use, housing, transportation, water supply, energy, and natural stressors, hazards, and risks, this analysis covers the places we work, shop, play, travel, and live.
A look at the region’s standing on income and poverty, employment, agriculture, forestry, and tourism is essential to promoting a locally healthy and resilient economy.