Across Appalachia


Snails Back from Supposed Extinction

The Nature Conservancy of Alabama has reported that three species of snail thought to have been extinct for decades have been spotted in the Coosa and Cahaba rivers in Alabama. Jeff Garner, a biologist and mollusk researcher for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources stumbled across the cobble elimia and nodulose Coosa River snail species along one of the remaining free flowing stretches of the Coosa River. Also, while conducting research at the Cahaba National Wildlife Refuge, a postdoctoral student found a Cahaba pebblesnail, a species not seen since 1965.

Mollusk populations have suffered due to the series of dams constructed along the Coosa River between 1917 and 1967. Nearly 50% of all documented U.S. species extinctions have occurred in the Mobile River Basin, through which the Cahaba River flows, . However, the Cahaba River itself remains Alabama’s longest essentially free flowing river and the basin harbors more than 100 rare and endangered species including species of snail found nowhere else in the world.


Hunters, Anglers Oppose Drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Over 700 Georgia hunters and anglers have signed a letter to Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson asking him to oppose opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. The sportsmen signed the letters at the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s recent Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoor Show in Atlanta, as well as Fisherama/Turkeyrama in Perry.

Recently, a controversial provision to allow oil drilling in this pristine and spectacular wilderness area was inserted into the Senate version of the federal budget. The Georgia hunters and anglers join sportsmen from across the nation in voicing opposition to the drilling provision, which not only threatens the Arctic Refuge, but also sets a dangerous precedent for wildlife refuges across the nation.

The Arctic Refuge is the crown jewel of the nation’s wildlife refuge system. Drilling in the Refuge would only provide a few months worth of oil and would devastate this fragile ecosystem, including the Porcupine caribou herd, as well as the native Gwich’In people, who have depended on the caribou herd for a thousand generations.


Bush Earth Day Visit to Smokies Rained Out

President George Bush was scheduled to celebrate Earth Day in the Great Smoky Mountains, but was rained out by thunderstorms and instead delivered a speech from a hangar at McGee Tyson airport in Knoxville. The President praised volunteers in the park and promoted his “Clear Skies Initiative,” a suite of changes to the

Clean Air Act that many see as a threat to air quality in the Park.

Mary Anne Hitt, executive director of Appalachian Voices, told the Associated Press that Bush’s visit reinforced that the Smokies “are not only a crown jewel among our eastern national parks, but also one of the most special places in America.”

Hitt, who grew up just outside the Smokies in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, continued, “I think we are all very proud that the park is getting this kind of recognition. But we are also concerned that the President’s policies, particularly on air pollution, would really pose a long-term threat to the health of the park and to the future of the tourism economy that is dependent on the health of the Great Smoky Mountains.”

Following the President’s visit, a number of regional newspapers published editorials critical of his administration’s record on air pollution. For more information, go to

North Carolina:

Two State Clean Air Bills Introduced

In April, a “Clean Cars” bill was introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly. The bill, if enacted, would make North Carolina the first state in the Southeast to address automobile pollution.

According to Michael Shore of the non-profit group Environmental Defense, “Adopting the [“Clean Cars”] bill is one of the most cost-effective actions North Carolina can take to reduce the pollution created by 6 million vehicles on our roadways.”

The bill would make conventional cars cleaner by requiring those sold in North Carolina to meet tighter pollution control standards. Supporters of the bill contend that manufacturers already have a variety technologies to reduce unhealthy auto emissions and that implementing them would only increase the sticker price of a car less than 1 percent.

A second clean air bill was introduced on the same day as “Clean Cars” that would establish a legislative commission on global climate change. The tasks of the commission would include producing a study on issues related to global warming and the emerging carbon economy would also include recommendations for specific state-level reduction goals for global warming pollutants.

Information on these two bills is available at:

South Carolina:

State Officials, Utilities Seek New Nuke Plant

State officials from the Governor’s office and the state Commerce Department are meeting with utility representatives to discuss building a new nuclear power plant in South Carolina. South Carolina currently has four nuclear power plants on line. If state officials are successfu, it would be the first to go on line in the nation since the TVA completed the Watts Bar plant, near Knoxville, in 1996.

The state is working with NuStart Energy Development, a consortium of reactor manufacturers, utilities, and the Tennessee Valley Authority and two reactor manufacturers, that works to gain federal approval for building new nuclear plants.

Many environmental and public interest groups are opposed to further development of nuclear power because they contend that there is no safe way to store the radioactive waste. Nuclear waste can remain dangerous for tens of thousands of years after it is produced. Information on issues of nuclear waste storage is available from the Union of Concerned Scientists at

West Virginia:

Groups Seek Designation of Historic Mountain

A coalition of individuals and organizations in West Virginia are seeking a historic designation for Blair Mountain, the site of largest battle on American soil since the Civil War. The battle of Blair Mountain took place in 1921 between more than 10,000 striking miners and armed federal agents who were attempting to break the strike.

The ad-hoc coalition that is seeking a historic designation for the mountain is called Friends of the Mountains and includes Appalachian Voices, West Virginia based non-profit groups Coal River Mountain Watch and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and a number of other local and regional groups. Supporters contend that the mountain is one of the state’s most important historic sites and are worried that the mountain will be leveled by coal companies that have already secured valley fill permits for mountaintop removal operations.

A hearing with the West Virginia Archives and History Commission is scheduled for May 6th in Logan County. More information on the effort to preserve Blair Mountain is available from the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition at:


Plan for Daniel Boone Forest Released

On April 20, the US Forest Service released its management plan for the Daniel Boone National Forest. Located in eastern Kentucky, the 700,000-acre national forest is home to the headwaters of three rivers that provide drinking water for over 1 million people. The newly released plan will govern all activities on the forest for the next 15 years.

While the Forest Service maintains that the main goal of the plan is to prevent outbreaks of insects like the pine beetle and gypsy moth, conservation groups are concerned that the plan will allow for more logging and other forms of resource extraction under the guise of pest control.

Kentucky Heartwood, a citizen conservation group that monitors activities on the Daniel Boone, won a ban on commercial logging in the national forest in 1997 because it posed a threat to the endangered Indiana bat. Logging has since resumed, but at far lower levels than the past. Kentucky Heartwood coordinator Perrin De Jong fears that the new forest plan might usher in a significant increase in timber cutting. De Jong told the Louisville Courier Journal, ““What the Forest Service says sounds very nice. But they’re just trying to come up with ways to justify being able to log anywhere they want at any time.”


VA Wilderness Bill Introduced in Congress

On April 28, US Representative Rick Boucher and US Senator John Warner introduced the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act of 2005, a bill that would permanently protect 55,000 acres of National Forest land in Virginia as wilderness. The bill would create seven new wilderness areas and two new national scenic areas across the Jefferson National Forest.

The bill has broad support from towns, counties, and individuals across southwest Virginia, who want to see the land preserved for future generations and hope the designations will increase tourism in the area. Representative Boucher told the Roanoke Times, “Southwest Virginia possesses the state’s best outdoor experience.”

Wilderness designation provides permanent protection from logging, mining, motorized vehicles, and other forms of resource extraction that would disturb the pristine qualities of these remote areas. Numerous types of recreation are permitted in wilderness areas, including hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and horseback riding.


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