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Posted Wed Jul 22 2009: from Guardian (UK):
Mountaintop mining legacy: Destroying Appalachian streams
When mountains are demolished with explosives to harvest their coal seams, the millions of tons of crushed shale, sandstone, and coal detritus have to go somewhere, and the most convenient spots are nearby valleys. Mining operations clear-cut the hillsides and literally "fill" mountain hollows to the brim -- and sometimes higher -- with rocky debris. At the mouth of the hollow, the outer edge of the fill is typically engineered into a towering wall resembling a dam.... Of all the environmental problems caused by mountaintop projects -- decapitated peaks, deforestation, the significant carbon footprint -- scientists have found that valley fills do the most damage because they destroy headwater streams and surrounding forests, which are crucial to the workings of mountain ecosystems. "There used to be pine trees, and it was a very pretty shaded area. There was a nice trail that went up the hollow and I used to take my granddaughter up there and we'd go ginsenging [harvesting ginseng roots, an Appalachian custom] on up the hill," says Miller, whose grandfather built the family homestead in 1920. "She really misses not being able to do that. She said, 'Can't we go someplace else? There's no hills to climb there.'"
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'Doc Michael says:
The Appalachian Trail will soon be a jogging track.

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