Flight Provided by Southwings
Grassy Ridge Property
This tract, near the Appalachian Trail and several signature peaks, has been protected.
Around the region Four years after 1 billion gallons of liquefied coal ash spilled from a failed dam at a coal-fired power plant in Tennessee, environmental groups have launched an interactive website where citizens can learn details about similar ash ponds at 100 coal plants in nine Southern states. The site has maps searchable by zip code, as well as information on the health threats associated with toxics found in coal ash, safety ratings of dams, and how citizens can advocate for strong federal safeguards. SoutheastCoalAsh.org
Citizens groups are asking a federal judge to reject a permit for an 870-acre surface coal mine in Knott and Perry counties, saying the Corps of Engineers failed to consider numerous scientific studies linking large-scale coal mining in Appalachia with a variety of health risks, including cancer, lung and heart disease and birth defects. As reported by Ken Ward in the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette, the coal industry has refuted the studies as not showing “causation” between coal operations and health problems. KFTC.org
After 40 years of persistence and patience, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy announced the purchase of a 601-acre tract near Roan Mountain that extends from the crest of Grassy Ridge to the north and Yellow Mountain State Natural Area to the south. The land deal, aided by Open Space Institute, permanently protects globally significant plant and animal habitat on one of the few parcels in the East that rise above 6,000 feet, and fills in a critical missing piece in the overall Roan Highlands Landscape. Appalachian.org/Protected
The Conservation Trust of North Carolina recently secured a prime tract that fills in a critical gap of protected lands along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The 128-acre Heffner Gap property in McDowell County (milepost 326) lies between two other CTNC properties, and contains a section of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, which traces the route of militia during the American Revolution. Paul Carson, superintendent of the National Park Service’s trail, says “It is especially exciting because so much of the surrounding landscape and views from the trail will remain as they were at the time the patriots traveled this route.” CTNC.org
Last year, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation protected 26,375 acres of open space through 127 permanent conservation easements in 53 localities, including about 120 stream miles, 11,000 acres of prime farm land and 1,700 acres along scenic roads and rivers. Smyth County in the mountains of southwest Virginia had the most open space protected with 2,569 acres on five easements. Established by the General Assembly in 1966, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation now protects or owns a total of about 650,000 acres across the commonwealth, holding more easements than any land trust in the nation.
A coalition of historians and environmentalists is fighting to preserve Blair Mountain – site of the largest labor insurrection in the nation’s history – from potentially being strip mined for coal. They recently appealed a federal ruling from last year removing the battlefield from the National Register of Historic Places, which the coalition says opens the gate for coal companies who want to obtain mountaintop removal mining permits for the area. The coalition has also launched a petition to the White House seeking the president’s help in preserving the site.