Issue 5: December 2002



Southeastern Indians Claim Their Heritage

Kenneth Branham remembers when it was illegal to be an Indian in Amherst County, Va. From 1924 until 1967, the Commonwealth of Virginia operated under the Racial Purity Law, which criminalized interracial marriage and set up a caste system based on race. The law’s main author was state registrar Walter Plecker. Plecker declared that only […]


Taking the "Worst First," Leaving the Best to Grow

The famously beautiful hills of Floyd County, Virginia, attracted hippies in the 1960s and ‘70s, New Agers in the 1980s and ‘90s, and most recently, Y2K wannabe refugees from Wall Street. But it wasn’t the Blue Ridge vista that was framed in the picture window of Jason Rutledge’s living room. It was the barn. […]


Holly & Mountain Ash: Berry Rich, Very Different

American mountain ash and American holly generally occupy separate ranges in North America. Their domains, however, converge in the Southern Appalachians, where the two trees exhibit an interesting duality along the mountain slopes. Mountain ash is found along the highest peaks, while holly is abundant farther downslope. Both trees, though, are generally absent in a […]


Celebrate Christmas Without the Toxic Trimmings

What could be simpler, more natural than a Christmas tree? A lot, it turns out. Among the thousands of Christmas tree growers in the Appalachian region, just a handful grow their crops organically, and they’re frustrated and puzzled at the resistance to adopting their environmentally friendly and commercially competitive ways. They also wonder why […]


Bush Administration Undercutting Forest, Air Regs

With classic below-the-radar timing, the Bush Administration unveiled plans the day before Thanksgiving to gut regulations that govern the management of our National Forests. Conservationists pilloried the move, saying it’s designed to suppress public involvement while undercutting ecological sustainability. A few days earlier, on November 22, the Bush administration announced its plans to weaken key […]


Winter Camping in Mountains Offers Solitude, Challenges

At 4,545 feet, nothing grows on the summit of West Virginia’s Black Mountain except for stubby chin-high pines that have entrenched their twisted roots into what would otherwise be a lunar landscape of loose, white rocks, the remnant of a mountain peak that was once among the highest in the world. My reason for choosing […]


Needmore Tract Appears Safe From Development

Crescent Resources, the real estate developing arm of Duke Power, announced in December that it has accepted a letter of intent from the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to purchase the properties known as Needmore in Macon and Swain counties for just over $19 million. If completed, the purchase would protect one […]


Springhouse Farm Retreat Melds Nature, Tourism

Western North Carolina is perhaps not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks about ecotourism and especially not eco-retreats. While the ecotourism industry has taken off in the developing nations of South America and East Asia, the U.S. travel industry hasn’t been as quick to jump on the bandwagon, even as 2002 […]


Is Air Pollution Adding to Regional Hemlock Death?

Over the past decade, public awareness of the perilous situation facing our native hemlocks in the southern Appalachians has grown. An exotic bug from Asia, the hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA), has ravaged hemlock stands from New England to Virginia and recently the epidemic has moved southward into the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. This […]


Coping With Cold

When Vice President Dick Cheney sneered that energy conservation was nothing more than “a sign of personal virtue,” he spoke exclusively from the point of view of rich American homo sapiens. For virtually every other form of life — from the daffodils in our front yards that manufacture energy for next year’s blooms from […]