Issue 4: October 2002



Va. Tech Sociologist Explodes Myths About Appalachia

In early 2003, Cambridge University Press will publish two myth-busting books written by Virginia Tech sociologist Wilma Dunaway about slavery in Appalachia: Slavery in the American Mountain South and The African-American Family in Slavery and Emancipation. “We do a lot of historical lying in this country,” Dunaway says. In these books she intends to set […]


The Spooky, Eerie Nature Of Witch Hazel Bushes

The witch hazel tree is one of the strangest plants native to the Southern Appalachians. It blooms around Halloween and “spits” its seed with a startling pop. Its gnarled and misshapen limbs confirm that the tree is appropriately named. It creates a tingling sensation when applied to the skin. Its wood supposedly has special powers […]


Migrating Hawks Ride Autumn's Winds Southward

Fall mornings are cold on the razor-edged ridge of Peters Mountain in West Virginia. After trudging up a short, steep ribbon of the Allegheny Trail, the wind scrapes across rocks and exposed skin, stealing the sweat and the heat from my body. I begin to shiver and wonder why anyone as afraid of heights […]


Right-Wing Judge Appointments Threaten Environment

The fate of many crucial and long-standing environmental issues may end up decided by President George Bush’s appointees to the federal trial and appellate courts, instead of our elected politicians. Having failed in their attempt to gut such popular environmental laws as the Endangered Species Act, property-rights zealots and extractive industry big-wigs are now trying […]


With Mast Down, Scout Early & Often For Whitetail

Forester Ray Boggs would like to find some ginseng behind his house, but all he sees is deer sign. That’s fine with him. This fall is special for Boggs, who has worked with the state forestry department for three decades. He planned his retirement for October, just as the fall fire season begins and archery […]


For Paddlers & Anglers, WVa.’s Elk River Offers Many Faces

West Virginia’s Elk River is a priceless treasure. From its headwaters of frigid, ground-fed springs in Pocahontas County, to its mouth at Charleston, West Virginia’s capital, the Elk transforms itself several times. At 180 miles long, the Elk is the longest river flowing entirely within West Virginia’s borders. For boaters, the first few dozen miles […]


Virginia Officials Butt Heads Over Kentucky Elk

Hunters who kill elk in Buchannan County, Va., during legal hunting season this year may or may not go to jail. It all depends on who wins an argument between the Buchannan County Board of Supervisors and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The supervisors recently passed a county ordinance declaring illegal the […]


New Report Ranks Most-Polluted National Parks

A report released in September by three conservation groups shows that air in national parks is more polluted than that of many urban areas. Code Red: America’s Five Most Polluted National Parks, produced by Appalachian Voices, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and Our Children’s Earth, ranks the most polluted parks as follows: 1. Great […]


Elisha Mitchell And The East’s Highest Mountain

According to a relief map that hangs near my writing desk, the University of North Carolina stands roughly 180 miles from the East’s highest peak. But today, as I battle morning commuters in a frantic search for downtown parking, the mountains seem a world away. At 8 a.m. the temperature on Chapel Hill’s main […]


Appalachian Residents Want Forests Protected

People who live in the Southern Appalachians want their national forests protected, show recent surveys by the Southern Research Station (SRS) of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The surveys by the SRS Recreation, Wilderness and Demographic Trends Unit in Athens, Georgia, found that area residents want the forests managed to protect clean sources of water, […]


Struggle for Sustainability

“When Good Plans Go Bad” could be the headline for the Robbins family’s experience in Rutherford County, North Carolina. Their story is one of sustainability looking for a place to happen, but stymied, not only by the allied forces of industrial capitalism, but also by a neighbor’s rage. Dusk was falling as I pulled […]