In April, the Russell Fork River was listed as one of the most endangered waterways in the country by the conservation group American Rivers. The Russell Fork, which carved the gorge at the heart of Breaks Interstate Park on its path through through Virginia and Kentucky, is threatened by Paramont Coal Company’s proposed Doe Branch mountaintop removal coal mine in Dickenson County, Va.
If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia government allow the mine to proceed, it would discharge toxic wastewater into four creeks that feed the Russell Fork, which itself is a tributary of the Big Sandy River, home to endangered mussels and crayfish. Breaks Interstate Park draws more than 350,000 visitors per year, and the Russell Fork attracts kayakers from Appalachia and beyond during fall dam releases.
The annual Most Endangered Rivers report highlights waterways that face imminent threats from environmentally damaging practices.
Read about the Russell Fork in the next issue of The Appalachian Voice, and learn more about this year’s list at www.americanrivers.org/endangered-rivers — Molly Moore