Letters from Readers

Dear Appalachian Voice

I am a woman who’s life yearning is to help, heal, and save the world and its living beings. I pray many hours a day and night for healing of us and the other living beings including plants and animal kingdoms. I yearn to be praying with others-all people to want us and all to heal and help each other. I yearn for us all to forgive the trespasses on our body, mind, soul and memories. I pray for a place where I can live in peace to do the work I yearn to do.
If you can offer assistance, guidance, prayers and ideas please do.

Dawn Hightree

Dear Appalachian Voice,

My name is Denver Mitchell. I’m very concerned about the danger of Mountain Top Removal, and clearcutting on Island Creek in Logan County and other parts of the state. If we do not have any vegetation in these mountains, how are we going to control the water especially in such steep hills in our area? The people who live downstream in these valleys in Logan County and other parts of West Virginia had better wake up from their sleep and see what they are in for. I see death and destruction like what happened on Buffalo Creek happening to the people who live in this area.

I urge everyone who lives in Logan County to stand up for their rights and let our voice be heard. I’m not against a man earning a living mining coal, but Mountain

Top Removal is not the right way! It should be done by using contour methods and leaving the vegetation alone.

The Slush [coal sludge] ponds are dangerous and building them out of dirt and rock is not the right way to do it. They are not safe! I’m concerned about our

Government letting this happen to the people of West Virginia. Isn’t the value of human life more important than greed? I’m against abortion, and these politicians say they are too, but they let these coal companies endanger our lives the way they mine coal. Look at the water we drink, they say we should not eat too much fish, but what about drinking and cooking with that same water? Now our governor and the DEP want to take control of our water quality Board so they can let these companies poison us some more.

I guess we will have another Buffalo Creek disaster, before our politicians wake up to the dangers of clearcutting, Mountain Top Removal, and sludge ponds. After people are killed or harmed, maybe they will do something. I beg our Government to help us before it is too late.

Denver Mitchell
Rossmore, West Virginia

Dear Appalachian Voice,

Before I start, I am member of Appalachian Voices and love it. I am glad you all are out there. I’m writing in reference to an article in the recent issue of Appalachians Voices magazine, Looking Out for Our Feathered Friends”. That was a great article, I only wish Deborah had contacted me for some additional information. I’m surprised some of her other contacts did not mention me in her interviews, I work with almost all of them. I work for the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Asheville as the Appalachian Mountains Bird Conservation Region Coordinator and Migratory Bird Biologist.

I think the article in the magazine was a wonderful beginning to the advancement of knowledge about our birds in the mountains. But one premise I sort of interpreted from the article was that we weren’t sure exactly what was causing bird declines, other than some things associated with humankind and our activities.

Well, I’d like to say that almost every instance of bird decline is caused by or associated with humankind activities, with few exceptions, whether its on this continent or on the wintering grounds, wherever they are. Its estimated that one billion birds are killed each year by contact with lighted buildings and windows; and that perhaps more individuals of some Appalachian breeding migrants are killed by towers than are in our conservation goals; that is, for instance, we may have set a conservation goal of doubling the current estimated population of Kentucky Warblers in the Appalachians to meet our conservation goal when in reality, more birds that this target are estimated to be killed by tower collisions! Also, 70% of Neotropical migrants that occur in our mountains are declining, and most can be related to humankind. For instance, the Cerulean Warbler, shows one of the steepest decline rates of Neotropical migrants, and almost 50% of the global population of Cerulean Warblers occur in our mountains, and in fact, are most prominent over coal reserves, which as you know are being exploited in a very tragic fashion. This is just one example and I only offer this to suggest maybe a follow up sometime on this issue of bird conservation in the Appalachians, and what we’re involved with from Alabama to New York on conserving birds and their habitats. Also, there are a lot of other programs private landowners can engage in to protect their lands for birds and wildlife conservation in general. So, I’d be willing to offer additional information should you all decide to do another proactive article on bird conservation, which I believe would mutually benefit the birds and the other resources of our mountains we are striving to preserve and conserve.

One last thing. the article implied that red-cockaded woodpeckers still reside in low elevation pine forests in the Great Smoky Mountains. To our collective knowledge, these birds have not inhabited the Great Smokies for at least 20 years, but that’s not to say they don’t, they just haven’t been observed. If they have been, we would likely know, since they are a Federally listed endangered species.

I appreciate all the work you fine folks do there and look forward to further communications on this subject, its really worth it.

Keith – Asheville, NC


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