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America's Most Endangered Mountains - Walden's Ridge, TN| 3mins
Director: Appalachian Voices | Producer: Appalachian Voices
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: United States
Subject Tags: americas, environment, resources, united states
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
When Wanda Hodge talks of Walden's Ridge, the pride in her voice is unmistakable. She tells of its long and rich history - first home to the Cherokee who hunted and lived in the area and then home to early pioneers who held community gatherings at the nearby Standing Stones. Walden's Ridge continues to be a gathering space today: bikers come to enjoy the winding roads, kayakers, fishermen and local residents enjoy the streams which still run pristine and clear and hang gliders from around the Southeast travel here to take in the scene from above. Wanda and her community have good reason to be proud of what this area still is. Twenty years ago, they banded together and successfully fought coal companies who saw a large profit in mining the Sewannee Coal Seam which runs through Walden's Ridge. This seam is the most toxic acid coal seam in the U.S. and if mined, would release acid mine drainage which turns streams orange and kills all life in the rivers. For Wanda, it's simple: "We don't want our children in east Tennessee to grow up thinking that streams should be orange." Wanda tells a story of school children in West Virginia who grew up thinking just that: they drew pictures with orange lines to represent the rivers in their community. "How sad that children have to grow up thinking that streams are not clear running pristine beautiful water. It's bad enough that it happened there, we don't want it here." Wanda and her community won a "Lands Unsuitable For Mining" (LUMP) designation for the Rock Creek watershed, which is part of Walden's Ridge, and this has kept the area safe for the past 20 years. But today, the threat has returned and coal companies are working hard to overturn the LUMP designation. If this were overturned the entire area of Walden's Ridge would be open to heavy mining. Citizens in Walden's Ridge are once again preparing to fight, hopeful that their numbers and passion can still outweigh today's coal companies. To support Wanda and her community, contact Save Our Cumberland Mountains at (865) 426-9455 or or SOCM's mission is to work toward environmental, economic and social justice for all Tennessee residents.

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