by Cat Dees
We gathered in the mid-morning: four mountaintop removal activists venturing out for a tour of the 2,000 acre permit request in Rock Creek proposed for blasting. The haze had not yet burned off as we took the Jeep and headed up Rock Creek toward the top of the mountain. We passed homes both great and small, some with gardens, chickens, dogs, chain link fences, and residents mowing and weed eating. Soon the homes became farther apart and we rounded the corner at Workman’s Creek.
Stopping frequently for photographs, we navigated the bumpy, rock-and-boulder-strewn dirt roads — quite a difference from the freshly paved county road that lead up into the residential neighborhood and then ended abruptly. The hardwoods were full and lush and flowers bloomed wherever the light hit the forest floor. Finally, we began to see gas pipes along the dirt road along with several pumping stations. And, when we stopped at a peak, we could see across the valley toward Kayford Mountain.
No sooner had we exited the Jeep when Ed said, “Look there!” He pointed to the right side of the view of the strip mine operation where a white cloud ascended from the ground operation. The haze was still making things fuzzy, but the cloud was clear enough to make out.
We didn’t hear a boom. And it was much too early for the afternoon blast signifying explosive mountaintop removal, blowing chunks of coal, dust, heavy metals, toxic compounds, sequestered carbon, and everything else within the blast site skyward to rain down on the community — both human and wild.
The evidence of Big Coal’s extraction appears in stark contrast to the green, lush mountains: absent ridges, valleys, or contour, these are massive scars on the stumps of mountains, ugly, uninhabitable, unthinkable. Just for coal? So much destruction for $100 per ton?
The beauty, the biological diversity, the recreational opportunities, the very soul of Appalachia are all crumbling away.
These photographs depict what is still beautiful and intact, as well as what is being destroyed on a daily basis on the last mountains standing. See what we see and share what we know about the devastating effect of mountaintop removal. Pay particular attention to the blight upon these once thriving mountains and learn more about how you can help Climate Ground Zero end mountaintop removal.
Cat Dees, Rock Creek