Thankful for My Mountains. Our Mountains.

Posted by JW Randolph | November 26, 2012 at 10:09 am


App Voices’ Tennessee Team was recently able to team up with the amazing folks at Southwings to do something that I have not ever done in my eight years of fighting mountaintop removal – get an aerial, in-person view of the American tragedy that is mountaintop removal. I was able to take some photos, and video, which we’ll be posting right here on the Appalachian Voice website this week. Professional photo/videographer and all-around great guy Paul Corbit Brown (of “Coal Country” fame) was able to join us as well and shoot some beautiful photographs, which he has generously offered to share with us.

Here’s just a preview of what is BEAUTIFUL about Tennessee’s mountains, right alongside some of the horrors happening right here on our incredible Cumberland Plateau. Please feel free to share these, credited to Southwings/Appalachian Voices.

The bottom line is this. The coal industry likes to say that there is no mountaintop removal in Tennessee. These images are further proof that our mountaintops are in fact removed right here in Tennessee, and we need to pass a law to stop them. The Scenic Vistas Protection Act is the best way that we can protect Tennessee and Tennessee’s communities.

Taking flight above Jacksboro, TN, looking over Norris Lake and Cross Mountain. We are right at peak fall colors on the plateau.

This (a topless Zeb Mountain, among others) is what awaited us

More below…

TVA’s beautiful 29 MW windfarm on Buffalo Mountain. The windfarm sits right above a surface mine.

We saw lots of viewshed problems on our flight. This was not one of them.

What was beautiful, was remarkably beautiful. Here are two quick shots of Elk Valley, TN just north of Jacksboro, that we took early on.

We soon started seeing these distrurbing mines that were increasingly large in size and disruptive in nature.


Hyrdoseed. Awkward.

The worst, and most well known mountaintop removal site in Tennessee is Zeb Mountain. The mine is a sprawling, nearly 2000 acre dump of rock, hydroseed, and old ponds. There has not been very much active mining on Zeb (or many mountains in Tennessee really) in 2012.


A haul road on Zeb Mountain. We later did water testing on the creek below this area, and conductivity levels were nearly double the levels deemed acceptable by EPAs mountaintop removal guidance.

Brave citizens like Vickie Terry are raising their voices about the damages to their property value, health, and communities from local mountaintop removal mines.

We can protect this.


2 Responses

  1. The photos you took from the air are testimony to the work my son, Jeffrey Hunter is doing, via Tennessee Wild and WildSouth. He is committed and has spread the news far and wide about the environmental disaster which could be averted by passage of the Wilderness bill sponsored by Sens. Alexander and Corker. It is good to know that so many others are pushing in their own way for this to happen. Best wishes

  2. craig baumberger says:

    “The men that took my job want to put me to work.
    Say the minimum wage is all that I’m worth.
    Say take down that shovel and dig up a hole,
    And find them some copper and find them some coal.
    Cause wire and fire are the way that they roll.

    Drill for some oil and find them some gas.
    They’ll crack and frack it and turn it to cash.
    But don’t drink the water and don’t breathe the air,
    And don’t ever think they’ll play fair,
    No don’t ever think they’ll play fair.

    They’ll tear up the Plains where the buffalo roam.
    They’ll drag line the top off the Old Mountain Home.
    They’ll write it all down to the progress of man,
    But they won’t fix the damage they’ve done,
    We’ll live with the damage they’ve done”.

    Banjohova Witness, 11/25/12

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