“What we do to the land, we do to ourselves.”
– Wendell Berry
The Appalachians are among the oldest and most biologically diverse mountains on Earth. Once towering higher than the Himalayas, shifting tectonics, natural erosion, and weathering have settled these peaks over millions of years.
The hills, hollows, and headwaters of Appalachia are home to a remarkable abundance of life. In the Great Smokey Mountains alone, for instance, there are over 65 species of mammals, 130 species of trees, and over 4,000 species of plants. Freshwater streams in the region contain more species of salamanders, crayfish, and freshwater mussels than anywhere else on the planet.
In a matter of decades, mountaintop removal coal mining has decimated hundreds of ancient Appalachian mountains. These mountains, which have sustained life for millions of years, are being laid to waste by coal companies practicing mountaintop removal. To date, over 500 mountains have been leveled, nearly 2,000 miles of fresh headwater streams have been polluted and buried, and over 1.5 million acres of forest have been taken down.
Unsustainable logging practices have also wreaked havoc on our native hardwood forests.
What We Are Doing About It
Since 2002, we have been working on a campaign to garner national support for ending mountaintop removal. We created the award-winning iLoveMountains.org website to help educate, inspire and mobilize the national movement. We share this website with our local and regional partners in the Alliance for Appalachia.
In order to allow private landowners to both protect and profit from their land in sustainable way, we have published a free “Managing Your Woodlands: A Guide for Southern Appalachian Landowners” handbook to educate landowners who want to learn about alternative methods for managing and maintaining a healthy forest.