Cherokee Tribe Works to Replenish Deer Population

By Kelsey Boyajian

On the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation’s Qualla Boundary in western North Carolina, white-tailed deer are a rare species. The population was depleted in the late eighteenth century during the peak of the fur trade, but today, efforts are being made to restore the deer population — plentiful in the rest of western North Carolina — on tribal lands. Historically, the tribe valued deer for hunting, trading and folklore connections.

The tribe’s 5,130-acre territory just south of the Great Smoky Mountains is full of mature forests with little undergrowth for deer to eat. Prescribed burns and tree thinning will be used in order to create a more hospitable environment. The Cherokee tribe, partnering with state and federal agencies, is hoping to successfully release more than 50 white-tailed deer into the boundary by the end of 2014.

Mining Away Appalachian Well-Being

By Kelsey Boyajian

For the sixth year in a row, regions with significant mountaintop removal mining operations were identified as among the nation’s most unhappy areas by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. Created in 2008 to measure emotional and physical health by state, the annual survey is based on more than 175,000 personal interviews across the country.

Nationwide, most mountaintop removal occurs in West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. The largest operations are in Kentucky and West Virginia which ranked 49th and 50th, respectively, for overall well-being, while Tennessee placed 44th and Virginia 24th. Yet Virginia’s 9th district — which covers the bulk of southwest Virginia where mountaintop removal takes place —scored 398th out of 434 districts nationwide.

Mountaintop removal is connected to many environmental and health concerns, such as contaminated drinking water and poor air quality. In a 2011 study published in the Journal of Community Health, researchers found that “The odds for reporting cancer were twice as high in the mountaintop mining environment compared to the non-mining environment in ways not explained by age, sex, smoking, occupational exposure or family cancer history.”

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