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The Western North Carolina Vitality Index reports on the 27 counties of Western North Carolina through the perspectives of the region’s natural, social, built, and economic environments. Designed to assist local governments, interest groups, and the public in furtherance of the Mountain Resources Commission’s overall mission to “take care of our natural resources to enhance and sustain quality of life and ensure the long term health of our region and our people," this resource allows the information necessary to:

  • Preserve the heritage and culture that defines our communities while strengthening public health,
  • Improve the region’s local economic activity and expand its influence,
  • Promote development that accommodates healthy growth,
  • Protect our region’s abundant and unique natural resources, and
  • Compare the western region’s status to the rest of North Carolina and the nation at large.

This index is sorted into four categories.

The Natural Environment – 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.

The Human Environment – 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.

The Built Environment – 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. Through careful planning, these uses can be balanced to minimize their environmental impacts in order to ensure a lasting and productive community.

The Economic Environment – 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.

Mountain Resources CommissionUSDA Forest ServiceNational Environmental Modeling and Analysis CenterDuke EnergyBlue Ridge National HeritageAsheville Board of RealtorsNC Department of Environment and Natural Resources