(Credit: Vivian Stockman and Southwings)
A brief history of the deforestation of Appalachia and efforts now underway to return abandoned mine lands to something approximating their original state. Surface mining in Appalachia has replaced approximately one million acres of eastern deciduous forest, one of the most diverse and valuable forests in the world, with primarily non-native grasses and shrubs. We get the details of legislation now before Congress to renew the Abandoned Mine Lands trust fund to continue financing reforestation. And, there was a time when Kentucky Spring Lamb was sought nationwide. Now, a vision to revive this once thriving mountain industry in concert with the return of forests.
Interviews in order of appearance. Click on name to listen:
Kathryn Newfont - We asked the near-impossible of Dr. Newfont, a professor of Appalachian and Environmental History at the University of Kentucky: begin the hour by giving us the history of the deforestation of Appalachian Kentucky in no more than 12-minutes. She did it!
Rebecca Shelton - Director of Policy & Organizing at Appalachian Citizens Law Center in Whitesburg, Ky. discusses the bi-partisan legislation before Congress that would renew the Abandoned Mine Lands trust fund, and the associated RECLAIM Act.
Michael French - Director of Operations, Green Forests Work, a non-profit establish to reforest Appalachia. More than 187 million trees have been planted on about 275,000 acres of former mines, an area more than six times the size of the District of Columbia.
Patrick Angel - Retired from a lengthy career as a soil scientist in the Interior Department’s Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, Dr. Angel now leads the South East Kentucky Sheep Producers Association. He discusses a vision of reviving a once-thriving sheep industry in Eastern Kentucky.
Kathryn Newfont and Patrick Angel figure prominently in a February 13, 2020 Washington Post article by Lexington native Gabriel Popkin about the deforestation and efforts to reforest the surface mine sites in Eastern Kentucky. Popkin made an appearance on Eastern Standard soon after the article was published.