America's Most Endangered Mountains - Coal River Mountain, WV| 4mins
Director: Appalachian Voices | Producer: Appalachian Voices
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: United States
"We don't live where they mine coal. They mine coal where we live.... Our concern today is our homes, our environment, and the sustainability of the environment." Lorelei Scarbro's house in the little community of Rock Creek, West Virginia is the same house her husband built with his own two hands when they were married, on land handed down to him from his parents. They raised their children in this house. Lorelei watches the deer in the field below, enjoys a fresh mountain stream running by the property and says that her granddaughter takes particular delight in the wild turkeys that frequent the neighborhood. Her husband, a coal miner for 35 years who died of black lung, is buried in the family cemetery next to their home. Lorelei's property in Rock Creek borders Coal River Mountain, one of the most beautiful mountains in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia, and one of the few untouched mountains in the region. Miles of pristine creeks and waterfalls, horseback trails and stunning vistas are often overlooked as a prime eco-tourism location. Now, Coal River Mountain is slated for a mountaintop removal coal mine. If the coal company's plans go through, nearly ten square miles of the mountain will be destroyed, and 18 valley fills will devastate the Coal River watershed. But residents in the Coal River Valley have joined together to propose a new idea - one of sustainable energy. In 2006, a study of the wind potential on Coal River Mountain demonstrated that the mountain is an ideal location for developing utility-scale wind power. The proposed Coal River Wild Project would produce enough wind power to keep the lights on in 150,000 homes, pump $20 million per year in direct local spending during construction, and $2 million per year thereafter. It would create hundreds of jobs and allow other uses of the land that would benefit local communities. Sustainable forestry, tourism, and harvesting of ginseng and other wild plants are just a few options for Coal River residents that would ultimately preserve the natural environment of Coal River Mountain for generations to come.