2013 Spring Conference

 The SAMAB executive committee regrets to inform our valued partners and supporters that the SAMAB Conference on “Vitality of the Southern Appalachians” planned for this Spring (March 15-16, 2013) in Asheville, NC has been cancelled.  

Given the planned sequestration of a substantial portion of federal budgets beginning March 1, the numerous federal agencies that normally support SAMAB are facing severe travel restrictions that will make attendance at conferences untenable in the near future.  In the absence of significant federal participation, the executive committee is forced to conclude that the goals of our Spring conference cannot be achieved as planned and we have begun work to reschedule for a later date.  

 Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience and confusion this has caused.  We are committed to continuing the good work of the SAMAB Cooperative and hope to see you all when conditions are more favorable.  Any registrations fees that have been collected for the present meeting will be fully refunded.  

 Sincerely,

 W. Scott Gain 

SAMAB Executive Committee Chair”

The Western North Carolina Vitality Index is a tool developed to provide information necessary to protect the region’s unique natural resources, promote development and planning that accommodates healthy growth, preserve the heritage and culture that defines communities, while strengthening public health and improving local economies.  The project was developed by UNC-Asheville National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center from the result of a partnership between the US Forest Service, the NC Mountain Resources Commission, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Asheville Board of Realtors and Duke Energy.

Want to learn more about the Vitality Index?  Click HERE to download a one-page PDF file with everything you need to know…

The current iteration of the index contains over 160 different data metrics for each of the western 27 counties in NC.  The information is classified into natural, built, human and economic sectors.  Access to the information is web-based and open to the public at www.wncvitalityindex.org.  Data and maps can be downloaded, spatially examined, and compared with state and national averages.  A map viewer function allows users to customize their own maps for specific reports, grant applications, and general education and various presentations.  An extensive report can be downloaded from the site as a PDF (see above link).  The purpose of the project is to inform decision-makers and the public about the connections between these sectors and how decisions about one issue can have many impacts and influences on other issues that were previously unrecognized. 
 
The purpose of the conference is for attendees to examine the current tool, explore its potential utility, and determine if SAMAB should investigate the feasibility and usefulness of expansions of the geographic scope to Southern Appalachia as a whole.   We also hope to facilitate a conversation about the general vitality of the region with an overview of:
Natural, Human, Built & Economic Systems. 

From this we hope to provide a more comprehensive basis to:
*Protect our region’s abundant and unique natural resources
*Promote development and land use planning that accommodates healthy growth
*Preserve the heritage that defines our communities while strengthening public health
*Improve the region’s local economic activity and expand its influence