Issue 6: December 2009/January 2010

Other Top Stories From Issue 6: December 2009/January 2010

A depression in a rock ridge is filled with water. Clouds fill the valley below and sunrise colors the sky.

Seven Geological Wonders of Appalachia

The Appalachian Mountains are abundant with magnificent natural wonders. Here’s a sampling of stunning geological features within the region.

A woman in a pink top and pearls smiles past the camera.

A Conversation with Archbishop Marcia Dinkins

Archbishop Marcia Dinkins, founder of the Black Appalachian Coalition, talks about creating the space for voices that have often been unheard to be heard.

A group of people are seated around tables as if speaking in a meeting.

Mountain Valley Pipeline Safety Issues Continue

The recent failure of a section of pipe during testing has heightened residents’ long-standing concerns about deteriorated pipe and rushed construction putting their safety at risk.

A man points to a machine while speaking.

‘Every Stick:’ SWVA Biochar Uses Local Waste to Create Quality Soil

A Southwest Virginia company’s biochar product is carbon-negative and has applications in agriculture.

woman with brown hair in a white sweatshirt stands outdoors

The Peoples’ Protector

From fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline to building a community garden, protecting people is at the heart of Crystal Mello’s work.

Residents Across Five States Benefit From Local Air Quality Monitoring

Through the Upper South and Appalachia Citizen Air Monitoring Project, community members and organizations are collecting data about local air quality.

A group of people march carrying banners.

Changes for MVP Southgate Pipeline are Part of a Web of Proposed Methane Gas

“Families and farmers are being asked to sacrifice land, health and peace of mind for projects that are less reliable and affordable than renewables,” said Ridge Graham of Appalachian Voices.

A sign advertises a No Pipelines meeting.

Concerns Over Proposed Cumberland Methane Plant and Pipeline

The Tennessee Valley Authority and Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company push ahead with plans for the Cumberland Pipeline amid concerns for the environment, property and public safety.

A Kanawha County school bus fills the photo.

WV Companies Deploying Federal Manufacturing and Clean Energy Incentives

Four West Virginia school districts welcomed West Virginia-made electric school buses, and an old machine shop is being transformed into a center for advanced manufacturing.

A white-bearded man in a blue t-shirt stands by a sink with water running from the faucet.

How McDowell County, West Virginia, is Addressing its Decades-old Water Problems

Federal funding and an innovative nonprofit program are key resources McDowell County, West Virginia is using to correct its decades-old problem with access to clean drinking water.

Paint peels from the sides of a dilapidated brick building.

Three Towns in Southwest Virginia Pursue Redevelopment of Blighted Buildings

Brownfields revitalization programs are helping rural Appalachian towns combat blight to rejuvenate their economies.

A young man in a blue jacket stands between two older men wearing gray t-shirts. the roof of the brick building behind them is covered in solar panels.

Solar Apprenticeship Program Benefits Southwest Virginia

A youth solar apprenticeship program is changing lives and accelerating the switch to green energy in Southwest Virginia.

A couple sits atop the grassy summit of Max Patch, taking in the views under a beautiful blue sky dotted with white cumulous clouds.

How Max Patch Bald is Finally Healing

After overuse forced the closure of Max Patch Bald, efforts by the U.S. Forestry Service and trail groups to restore the area show dramatic progress.

People stand in a room with a whiteboard covering the wall behind them

Fraud Allegations in Ohio Public Lands Fracking Controversy

As Ohio moves forward with leasing public lands for oil and gas fracking, there are allegations that supporters filed fraudulent letters in favor of these leases — using real Ohioans’ identities without their consent.

Heavy equipment and vehicles are seen in a fenced off area of disturbed land next to a river.

Greenbrier River Watchdogs Alarmed as Mountain Valley Pipeline Drills

Local residents and water protectors are concerned about pollution and safety risks as boring for the Mountain Valley Pipeline begins beneath West Virginia’s Greenbrier River.

What Can the New Clean Energy Programs Do For You?

Our guide breaks down what the new clean energy programs can do for your home, business and community.

A crowd of Indigenous people, some dressed in traditional clothing or carrying banners, walk along a road behind a woman carrying a vessel of water.

Indigenous Couple Fights For Social And Environmental Justice

The nonprofit organization 7 Directions of Service is working to protect the rights of people and nature.

An aerial photo looks down on a white, rectangular building with solar panels on its rooftop. A pink sign on the side of the building bears the name Annie's Frugal Finery.

REAP Benefits Farmers, Small Businesses and the Climate

Farmers and small businesses are reaping clean energy and cost-saving benefits from the Rural Energy for America Program.

A man in a black t-shirt speaks at a podium behind a sign depicting a skeleton wearing a miner's hat that says in black lettering. A banner that says Black Lung Association is draped over a table behind him and a statue of a miner rises above them in the background.

New Draft Safety Standard for Exposure to Silica Dust

The Mine Safety and Health Administration’s proposed new regulations would reduce worker exposure to silica dust, but advocates say better enforcement measures are needed.

Several dozen men and women gather in a brewery to watch a presentation about the Ridgeline Pipeline Expansion project in Middle Tennessee.

How a Pipeline Proposal Birthed a Community Movement in Middle Tennessee

A proposed pipeline expansion project that would cut through several Middle Tennessee counties birthed a grassroots movement aimed at stopping it, as TVA plans yet another fossil fuel buildout.

a dark bog turtle with yellow markings on its neck

Saving the Tiny Bog Turtle Could Have a Big Impact on Conservation

A petition to protect southern bog turtles under the Endangered Species Act could also help protect their mountain bog homes. But with diminishing habitat and other threats, time could run out for North America’s smallest turtles.

man stands at podium in front of statue of a miner, banner in background says "Black Lung Association"

Regulators Poised to Update Miners’ Protections from Silica Dust

Expected new silica dust regulations in mines could combat the rise of black lung disease. However, the effects of an ongoing federal silica enforcement initiative remain unclear.

Black Lung Resurgence Drives Push to Protect Coal Miners Against Silica Dust

Silica dust is behind a dramatic increase in the number of miners becoming ill with the most severe form of black lung disease.

Person speaks from podium

Nuclear Company Pursues Plans to Refine Uranium in Erwin, Tennessee

As Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., pursues plans to begin producing refined uranium in Erwin, Tenn., local environmental and safety advocates are objecting.

pile of empty plastic and aluminum containers

Are We Really Recycling?

A look at our recycling systems reveals less of our plastic is actually being recycled than one might think.

aerial view of the Sampson wood pellet plant

Clearing the Air on How Wood Pellet Factories Affect Their Neighbors and the Climate

The wood pellet industry is growing in the American South, but communities near wood pellet plants are seeing damages to air and water quality. As new facility proposals from wood pellet companies like Enviva continue, local residents and regional climate activists are speaking out.

Woman points to location on a map.

Turning Coal Ash into Art

In Walnut Cove — a community whose history has been tainted by coal ash for decades — The Lilies Project has turned coal ash into art, and is expanding to encompass the town’s story beyond coal ash.

A painting of boots, a hat and other gear used by coal miners.

Bills Aim to Help Miners with Black Lung and Surviving Family Access Benefits

Miners with black lung disease face a difficult process to obtain modest benefits, as do their widows. Two bills in Congress aim to help miners with the disease and their bereaved families, including by tying benefit levels to inflation.

A woman poses next to her husband with her arm around his shoulders.

Fighting for Black Lung Benefits for Miners and Families

Kathryn South’s husband, Mike South, was diagnosed with black lung disease at age 35. As they grappled with his disease, the couple also navigated the arduous legal process to obtain federal black lung benefits, a fight that Kathryn continued even after Mike’s passing.

smiling man crouches near ginseng plants in the forest

The Root that Shaped a Region

Luke Manget, author of the book “Ginseng Diggers: A History of Root and Herb Gathering in Appalachia,” discusses the complex and impactful history of ginseng and root digging.

Two men stand on a gravel road outdoors next to a truck and another man crouched next to white buckets.

Contaminants Found in East Tennessee Springs

Springs are often assumed to be a safe, clean source of drinking water. But they can harbor a number of health hazards, as new research published in the journal Geosciences shows.

gray dust hovers between two trees

As EPA Prepares to Update Federal Air Quality Limits, Coal Dust Looms Large in Eunice

Frustrated with constant coal dust, residents of Eunice, West Virginia, asked the state to install an air quality monitoring device in their community. The request was denied.

10 people raise their fists in front of a bronze statue

No Easy Answers on Coal Ash Cleanup

To protect groundwater and community health, coal ash ponds must be cleaned up. But, as communities in Tennessee have learned, safely removing the toxic waste brings its own set of challenges.

Two young snorkelers exploring a shallow river.

Snorkelers Explore Appalachia’s Diverse Freshwater Life

The rivers and streams of southern Appalachia attract snorkelers with their wide variety of species and beautiful sites.

A desolate patch of disturbed ground sits as a result of an abandoned surface mine.

How the Coal Mine Cleanup System is Failing

The bankruptcy of coal company Blackjewel has exposed many flaws in the current mine cleanup system.

Men work with solar components

How a Pipeline Battle Led an Advocate for Formerly Incarcerated People Into Solar Workforce Development

Richard Walker of Bridging the Gap in Virginia is working to make sure vulnerable communities are not left behind in the green energy transformation.

A gray and green fish carries a stone in its moth, surrounded by smaller red fish

Chubs: A key species and a mystery

Snorkelers helped to uncover a population of river chubs in an unusual location.

The University of North Georgia Appalachian Studies Center’s signature project, the Saving Appalachian Gardens and Stories, is a demonstration garden for heirloom seeds and an oral history collection. Photo courtesy Rosann Kent.

Cultivating Communities Through Seed Saving

Seed saving allows gardeners and farmers to explore new varieties of the plants they grow while forming communities around the practice.

two people in front of a large guitar statue hold signs about the landfill problems

The Beast of Bristol: The Landfill Haunting Residents of the Twin Cities

Terrible, persistent smells from the Bristol landfill have put a damper on quality of life for residents of the Twin Cities. Officials acknowledge the problem, but there’s no clear path forward.

A green salamander peeks its head outside its rocky winter retreat.

Surviving Winter as a Salamander in Appalachia

What do salamanders do when the air turns frigid? UVA-Wise professor Walter Smith has been observing a particular green salamander for 8 years, and shares some of the species’ survival strategies.

smoke and steam rise from a power plant

Biden Administration Proposes Restoration of Mercury Pollution Rules

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently proposed reinstating a legal finding that supports restrictions on the amount of mercury that may be discharged by power plants.

woman with light blonde hair and glasses holds a quilt square with cutout images of miners, a canary, mining boots, coal and a Bible

Black Lung Advocate Judith Riffe is Making Change (and Quilts) in West Virginia

Judith Riffe of the Wyoming County Black Lung Association uses her quilt-making talents to fundraise for the chapter and is spearheading the installation of a statue to bring attention to the role of women miners.

Black Appalachian Coalition Aims to Shift Narrative on Energy, Other Issues

The Black Appalachian Coalition is seeking to amplify the voices of Appalachia’s people of color, whose stories are often left out of policy discussions about energy and other issues in the region.
Bishop Marcia Dinkins, the group’s founder and executive director, recently talked with the Energy News Network about the coalition’s work.

Residents Near Proposed Lambert Compressor Station Push Back, Cite Environmental Racism

A Pittsylvania County community is urging the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board to deny a permit for Mountain Valley Pipeline’s proposed Lambert Compressor Station, which would pressurize and pump natural gas, emitting air pollution in the county’s historically Black Banister District.

In a Nutshell: A Native Forage With Potential

Members of the Nutty Buddy Collective are tending orchards and processing locally foraged acorns and black walnuts into food to make the case that native nuts can once again help keep our communities healthy — and foster healthier forests at the same time.

wide blue river flanked by autumn trees

Potential Federal Action Would Address Common and Harmful “Forever Chemicals”

Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could soon take steps to protect communities from an incredibly common but little-known family of man-made chemicals that have been accumulating in waterways and in people’s blood for decades.

view of a mountain is partially obscured by white haze

North Carolina Seeks Public Comment on Regional Haze Plan

As North Carolina develops its 10-year plan to reduce haze in national parks and wilderness areas, conservation and health groups allege that North Carolina and other Southeast states are missing key sources of emissions in their analysis.

canoes full of tires

Clean Up Your Local Creek With Tips From The Pros

Organizing a river or lake cleanup is a fun, effective way to improve local water quality and make a tangible difference. Three river cleanup pros share their tips!


Federal and State Agencies Consider New Water Permits for Controversial Pipelines

Critics of the Mountain Valley Pipeline are calling on Virginia to deny a Clean Water Act certification for MVP. The pipeline’s proposed extension, MVP Southgate, faces several hurdles.

dam removal

Removal of Historic Dam Aims to Restore Watauga River

On May 16, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the Ward Mill Dam in an effort to reconnect streams across the Watauga River watershed. The B.O. Ward House and Mill Complex was preserved and added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Virginia Gold Rush

Residents fear a dangerous open-pit gold mine will open in Buckingham County before the Virginia General Assembly acts.

scrolls wrapped in colorful covers

Jewish Communities Persist in Charleston, West Virginia

Charleston, West Virginia, is home to two Jewish congregations, and the city’s Jewish history stretches back to the early 1800s.

hands counting dollar bills

Beyond the Tuition Bill, College Students Face Stressful Housing and Utility Costs

Nearly half of all college students faced housing insecurity in 2020, according to survey data. While COVID-19 made it harder for students to meet basic needs, the problem is not new.

Relay Runners Followed Path of the Mountain Valley Pipeline

Three women ran the 415-mile route of the Mountain Valley Pipeline over the course of 10 days to protest the project and connect with residents along the pipeline’s path.

food bank line

N.C. Families Contend With Mounting Bills

Faced with the threat of utility disconnection and even eviction in the pandemic, many North Carolinians are forced to decide between essentials.

five miners wearing shirts that say Black Lung Kills gather around a notepad

Black Lung Benefit Fund Would See Major Boost from Change to Coal Tax

Changing the structure of a tax that funds federal benefits for miners could bring tens of millions of dollars annually to the cash-strapped Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

bears at guardrail

Safe Passage Works to Make Interstate 40 Safer for Wildlife and People

A new coalition aims to improve safety for wildlife and humans alike along a curvy section of Interstate 40 near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where vehicle collisions with bear, deer and elk are on the rise.

broad-winged hawk on power line

Counting Hawks

“Any day you see a hawk is a good day,” says longtime hawk watcher Bill Haley. During peak migration season, lucky hawk watchers in Appalachia may see thousands of hawks in a single day.

power lines

Cooperative Connectivity: Some Electric Co-ops Aim to Meet the Broadband Challenge

Nearly a quarter of rural Americans don’t have access to reliable high-speed internet. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and others are working to change this.

coal truck

Virginia Resident Finally Finds Relief From Coal Truck Dust

After a resident unsuccessfully sought aid from Virginia officials for two years to address constant dust from passing coal trucks, one reporter’s questions motivated the company to take action.

Bankruptcy Proposal Would Dodge Mine Cleanup Laws

As the Blackjewel bankruptcy continues, the responsibility to reclaim mine sites and workers’ compensation for past medical bills are still major issues.


Southeast Ski Resorts Reckon with Sustainability and Climate Change

As Southeast ski resorts upgrade their snowmaking equipment, many are finding that the investment isn’t just good for business  — it’s helped to slash energy consumption and water use.

grass grows on fresh dirt at former Ginsburg site

Permanent Closure of Frack Waste Well A Win For Ohio Activists

The Ginsburg injection well stored toxic, radioactive waste in an open pit surrounded by farms and residences. The well’s closure is a significant victory for activists, but there are more than 200 frack waste injection wells in Ohio.

Members of JEPC watch the mayor sign the declaration in an office

Young Black Leaders Steer the Way for Change in Appalachia

Organizations built to fight for equity and uplift Black lives are surging throughout Appalachia and young leaders are steering the way.

Appalachian Election Workers Manage New Processes, Safety Protocols

There seems little question that the 2020 general election is the most challenging to run in American history. Across Appalachia, those responsible for running the elections appear to be rising to the challenge.

Desiree Shelley

The Appalachian Pipeline Resistance Movement: “We’re Not Going Away”

Residents along the paths of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines have made it clear that fracked-gas projects are not welcome.

Big Sandy Crayfish

To Stop an American Extinction Crisis, the Southeast Must Pivot Away From Fossil Fuels

One of the worst chapters of the global extinction crisis is playing out in America’s Southeast, a region that rivals the rainforests with its staggering array of aquatic biodiversity.

Saving Appalachian Species

The Endangered Species Act plays a crucial role in protecting our region’s wealth of biodiversity — but this bedrock environmental law is under attack.

Roanoke Logperch; Indiana Bat; Bog Turtle; Small-whorled Pogonia

Get to Know Appalachia’s Vulnerable Species

We spotlight eight of our region’s at-risk species.

A gray and green fish carries a stone in its moth, surrounded by smaller red fish

Snorkeler Casper Cox Explores Appalachia’s Diverse Freshwater Life

Snorkeling Appalachia’s rivers and creeks puts adventurers face-to-face with a diverse and colorful array of fish.

Airborne bike rider


Three projects show how mountain biking is helping shape development and protect private lands from pavement in Appalachia.

road leading through a grassy field

Petrochemical Development in Appalachia Faces New Challenges

Economic experts warn that new petrochemical facilities in the Ohio River Valley could be an unwise investment for the region, and one of two investors backs out of a potential cracker plant in Ohio.

mack prichard

Celebrating Mack Prichard, A Tennessee Conservation Leader

Dubbed “The Conservation Conscience” of Tennessee by the state legislature, Mack Prichard’s legacy is found in the lands and waters he helped protect.

Lawsuits Against Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines Ramp Up

Pipeline developers continue to be met with opposition from landowners, environmental groups, legislators and more.


High Stakes for Appalachia in the 2020 Census

The 2020 Census will determine how approximately $1 trillion in federal funding is distributed over the next 10 years, as well as which states will gain or lose congressional representatives.


The Lure of Appalachian Trout

A bass fisherman explores the conservation and sport behind trout fishing.

Support Grows for Mine Reclamation Bill

Numerous Appalachian coal-bearing communities have passed resolutions calling on federal legislators to pass a bill that would reauthorize a program that funds cleanup of abandoned mine lands.

black lung demonstration

Black Lung Healthcare Legislation Sees Progress

Congress temporarily reinstated a tax on coal companies that funds black lung benefits for miners and their families in December. Advocates continue to push for further protections for coal workers.

Japanese Honeysuckle

Beware of Spreading These Common Invasive Species

Don’t be fooled by their looks — many popular plants sold in nurseries are actually invasive species that can kill off local flora.

valley fill

The Impacts of Coal Bankruptcies

With industry projections trending downwards, questions continue about whether the mine reclamation system can handle ongoing bankruptcies.

A High Price for Low-Quality Water

Residents of Martin County, Ky., and many other rural communities often deal with contaminated water despite exorbitant monthly bills.

MVP Ordered to Halt Work, Buckingham Gets Day in Court

Federal regulators ordered Mountain Valley Pipeline developers to halt work in mid-October, and a community’s legal challenge against a proposed compressor station in Union Hill, Va., moved forward.

North Carolinians Speak Out Against Fracked Gas Projects

In November, North Carolina landowners and concerned residents spoke out against the proposed MVP Southgate Pipeline and a proposed liquefied natural gas facility.

Play Bears Witness to Knoxville’s Red Summer, 100 Years Later

“Red Summer,” a performance by The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc., highlights an episode of racial violence in Knoxville, Tenn., that occurred after a Black man was falsely accused of murder in 1919.


Pipeline Developers Push Back Against Grassroots Resistance

Legal challenges continue to stall numerous pipelines as Mountain Valley developers continue to push forward on the MVP Southgate project. A tree-sit in Mountain Valley’s path reaches one year.

pipeline protest

Pipelines Continue to Face Obstacles

As the Mountain Valley Pipeline continues to cause problems and spark protests, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline faces new legal troubles.

man holding apple

A Tale of Orchards Past

Apple aficionado Tom Brown has dedicated more than 20 years of his life to saving Appalachia’s forgotten heirloom apples.

man in truck

Tackling Food Insecurity

To combat food insecurity, some programs work to fill gaps in federal food assistance programs, while others are getting creative with food systems and supporting local farmers. All of them are making a difference in the fight against hunger, and all face challenges.


Vineyards in Appalachia Move Toward Sustainability

As Appalachia becomes more of a wine destination, vineyards across the region are implementing more sustainable practices or going completely organic.

Local Ingredients, Local Spirits

Local distilleries across Appalachia are crafting creative spirits with local ingredients while paying tribute to the region’s tradition of moonshine-making.

Two people sit on couch in front of wall of photos and documents

The Appalachian African American Cultural Center

One couple’s mission to preserve community history in Southwest Virginia.

Protest banners hanging on pipeline equipment

Pipeline Protesters Charged with Threats of Terrorism

Two peaceful protesters of the Mountain Valley Pipeline were recently arrested and charged with threats of terrorism, a felony.

Pipeline protestor holds sign that says, "What will the state do? How much is enough power and profit? We are watching you."

Pipeline Legal Disputes Escalate

As residents in the path of the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines call for investigation of potentially toxic pipeline coatings, federal and state officials loosen permitting regulations.


Contending with Contamination in Minden, W.Va.

Minden, W.Va., residents have been plagued with toxic PCBs for decades. Now the town is on the Superfund list and residents are once again calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to relocate the entire community.

A community forum discusses closure of a fossil plant

TVA Faces Criticism Over Coal Ash, Transparency

The Tennessee Valley Authority and its contractor Jacobs Engineering are facing a new lawsuit regarding their cleanup of the 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. Additionally, state and federal lawmakers are backing a U.S. House bill that would require more transparency from the monopoly utility.

A group of people pose for a picture while celebrating

North Carolina Orders Coal Ash Cleanup, Duke Appeals

North Carolina ordered Duke Energy to fully excavate the coal ash at its six remaining coal ash sites across the state, prompting an appeal from the monopoly utility.


Pipelines Plagued by Lawsuits and Delays

Construction remains halted on most of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s route and on some of the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s route due to a slew of legal issues.

man holding food

Pay-What-You-Can Cafes

Appalachia’s donation-based cafes offer delicious, healthy food to diners and volunteers regardless of their ability to pay.

girl on bike

Rise of Interscholastic Mountain Biking

The sport of mountain biking is taking off in schools across Appalachia.

person speaking to crowd

Coal Ash Cleanup: Three States See Major Developments

North Carolina holds meetings on coal ash cleanup in the state. Tennessee workers who are sick after cleaning up TVA’s 2008 coal ash disaster seek resolution. Virginia moves closer to requiring Dominion Energy to relocate its toxic coal ash.

protest sign

Legal Action and Protests Against Pipelines

Numerous lawsuits have led to a complete halt to construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and at Mountain Valley Pipeline water crossings as protests against pipelines continue to spring up.

maps of temperature increase

Appalachian States Respond to Climate Change Warnings

Many federal and state leaders continue to ignore man-made global climate change in spite of information presented in new national and international reports. But the governors of North Carolina and Virginia are taking action.

complicated black lung disease

Battling for Black Lung Benefits

The deadly disease is on the rise, but funding for healthcare will be halved unless Congress acts this year.

Tree-sit in path of Mountain Valley Pipeline

Mountain Valley Pipeline Sparks Anger

Pipeline construction crews have upset residents along Mountain Valley’s route by logging near tree-sitters, ignoring a state-issued temporary work suspension and accidentally pelting a family with erosion control pellets.

Flooded field caused by Mountain Valley Pipeline Construction

Legal Challenges Against Pipelines Heat Up

Federal and state courts alike have partially halted the construction of fracked gas pipelines across the region as cases are decided and permits are reevaluated.

Mountain Valley Pipeline construction

Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Challenges Continue

A slew of legal challenges and protestors has suspended construction on the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines.


Hemp and Medical Cannabis Make Joint Gains

Industrial hemp could soon be legalized nationally under the 2018 Farm Bill, and Virginia could soon have up to five medical cannabis oil dispensaries in the state.

People at Elmwood Park

Remaking Downtowns

Communities across Appalachia are striving to bring new energy to downtowns that have suffered from population decline or the loss of once-dominant industries.


Pipeline Resistance Grows on Multiple Fronts

Tree-sits, legal battles and more have sprung up in response to the natural gas pipelines being proposed and built across the region.

Aerial view of coal ash ponds near river

Environmental Protection Agency Aims to Deregulate Coal Ash

The Trump administration’s proposal to roll back federal coal ash safeguards gives more leeway to states — and advocates worry that would put drinking water at risk.

In Celebration of Vickie Terry

Two friends remember the life and legacy of community leader and mountain protector Vickie Terry.

Linn Cove viaduct

Changes for Blue Ridge Parkway in 2018

The Blue Ridge Parkway’s project list for 2018 includes repairs to the Linn Cove Viaduct and Flat Top Manor at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, planning for 5,300 acres of recently acquired land near Waterrock Knob, the re-opening of the cafe at Doughton Park, and more.

dead and thriving hemlocks

Can We Save the Mighty Hemlock?

As the threat posed by the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid grows, so do efforts to save “the redwood of the East.”

hemlock hike

Fighting the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in N.C.

Measures from predatory beetles to chemical treatments are being taken to combat the invasive insect.

map of density of abandoned mine problems

Decades in the Making: A Mine Reclamation Backlog

Several charts and maps show the enormity of the abandoned mine problems that still need to be cleaned up — and the inadequacy of the current cleanup fund.

Jim Ward speaks outside of White House

Calls for Action on RECLAIM Act

Supporters of the RECLAIM Act traveled to Washington, D.C., in October to urge legislators to cosponsor the bill and hold a vote before the end of 2017.

SAMS Members Protesting

Community Organizing Amid Destructive Mining

Formed 10 years ago in response to coal mines proposed near Wise County, Va., Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards continues their work to build sustainable communities.

Dianne Bady

Remembering Dianne Bady

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Founder Dianne Bady leaves behind a legacy of giving voice to citizens who envision a healthier environment, intact mountains and clean water.

White House

Trump’s War on Reality

Special column adapted from the Front Porch Blog: Trump’s administration has set a dangerous precedent of relying on dishonesty and alternative facts instead of addressing the scientific truths behind coal and climate change.

A stone bridge on the parkway

A Capsule History of the Blue Ridge Parkway

A brief history of the Blue Ridge Parkway written by Dr. Anne Mitchell Whisnant, a professor at the University of North Carolina.

walkway up the mountain

Treasures of the Parkway

Here, we outline some of the best overlooks, hikes and historic sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Kayaker in the rapids.

Rapids from Flannagan Dam Drive Tourism

Local residents and small business owners near Flannagan Dam are pushing for more frequent releases from the dam to allow for a longer whitewater rafting season to increase tourism.

women harvest black cohosh

Cultivating Forest Medicinals, Creating Healthy Economy

Appalachia’s forest are home to a stunning array of medicinal plants. A movement called forest farming is emerging to grow these plants in private forestland to decrease strains on plant populations and strengthen the market for the region’s botanicals.

map of pipeline routes

Two Interstate Pipelines Clear Regulatory Hurdles Despite Opposition

As the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines clear some of the regulatory hurdles in their way, communities have rallied to state public hearings on water quality certifications to voice their opposition.

Boy snorkeling in Conasauga River

Hidden Treasures: Fishing and Swimming Spots

Scattered throughout the lush Appalachian Mountains are beautiful pools of water that perfect for fishing or swimming or both! Read our latest “Hidden Treasures” feature to learn about a few of them.

Keel with brown trout

Fishin’ n’ Pickin’

Renowned musician Larry Keel has found a way to combine his love of bluegrass music and freshwater bass and trout fishing.

Pipe running into Dan River

Duke Energy Wants to Raise Rates to Pay for Coal Ash Cleanup

Energy giant Duke Energy has signaled to the North Carolina Utilities Commission that it will seek to raise its rates, in part to pay for the nearly $5 billion needed to clean up its coal ash impoundments.

Cloudy mountain horizon

20 Years of Action: A Letter from Our Board Chair

Editor’s Note: This story was part of a special section dedicated to Appalachian Voices’ 20th anniversary. For…

Remembering Carol Judy

Carol Judy of Roses Creek, Tenn., was an activist, an agitator, an educator and an organizer. She was also a root digger, mother and grandmother, and dear friend to many.

Could Concrete Help Get Coal Ash Out of Neighborhoods?

More than 150 million tons of coal ash are stored in impoundment ponds across North Carolina. Recycling the ash for use in concrete may provide a way to remove this toxic material from neighborhoods.

State Politics Across the Region

With state legislative sessions underway across the region, here’s a preview of some of the environmental bills to look out for.

Using Art to Combat Environmental Destruction

An exhibit of mixed-media art by West Virginia resident Betsy Jaeger shares the drastic changes in her community due to mining and fracking operations.

Congress Blocks Stream Protection Rule

The Congressional Review Act, a rarely invoked procedure, was used by the U.S. Congress to strike down the Stream Protection Rule.

Appalachian Festivals

Festival season is about to get underway in Appalachia. Here is selection of the upcoming festivals and gatherings in the region.

Following Cherokee Footpaths

Hundreds of years ago, before interstate highways drove through the mountains, a network of trails winding around the Southern Appalachians served as the arteries of the sovereign Cherokee nation.

Public Pushback Against Appalachian Natural Gas Pipelines

Community members from across Appalachia are joining together to fight the construction of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, but critics cite flaws with the ongoing environmental review process.


Reclaiming Mined Mountains to Beneficial Use

More than one million acres across Appalachia have been disturbed by surface coal mining. These formerly mined lands offer many challenges, but could also become focal points for economic development and reforestation.

Appalachians Against The Dakota Access Pipeline

Across Appalachia, communities are supporting the indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline, a partially constructed crude oil pipeline stretching 1,100 miles across North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

Adult Life Expectancy change from 1997-2007 showing a half year to a full year decrease in life expectancy for adults living in areas with mountaintop removal mining

Traveling The Crooked Road

Along its 330-mile route, The Crooked Road in Southwest Virginia connects visitors with the sounds of America’s roots music and demonstrates how a region can leverage its cultural assets to develop a new economy.

Driving Trails of Appalachia

Take a day or a week to discover Appalachia along one of the region’s many driving trails.

Buckingham’s Battle: Residents oppose proposed gas compressor station

A proposed natural gas compressor station in Buckingham County, Va., would keep gas moving through the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. But many nearby residents are opposed to the industrial facility because it would cause pollution and noise and devalue nearby properties.

Fostering Climate Resilience

As climate change begins to impact Appalachia, scientists and community activists look for ways to study and adapt to the changes.

Across the Years: Updates from the Archives

In honor of our 20th anniversary, we looked through The Appalachian Voice archives to identify important topics that we’ve covered over the years and provide updates on where these issues stand today.

Celebrating 25 Years with the Affrilachian Poets

For 25 years, the predominantly African American group of writers known as the Affrilachian Poets have been “making the invisible visible.”

Cleaning Up A Mess: Coal Ash Across Appalachia

Appalachian states are burdened by millions of tons of toxic coal ash. Without firm federal standards, it’s up to states to determine much of the cleanup process — and regional states are taking varying approaches.

Burning Southern Forests to Fuel Europe

The global push for “green” energy has led to clearcutting across the Southeast, where forests are being harvested to fuel Europe’s — and particularly the United Kingdom’s — push to use alternative fuels.

Fueling Cars with Plants- A test case in North Carolina

Though biofuels are most common in the Midwest, the state of North Carolina delved into biofuels research in 2007 before slowing research in 2013. Thus far, the venture hasn’t yielded much success.

Hidden Treasures of Appalachia – 2016

For the past 20 years, in addition to highlighting environmental problems in our region, The Appalachian Voice has also sought to showcase our magnificent, ancient mountains that people from all over the world come to visit. Below, we offer up just a taste of the natural adventures and cultural highlights from our story archives.

The Miracle of Harvest

The Harvest Table Restaurant provides diners with a genuine farm-to-table experience that emphasizes the beauty and simplicity of sustainable living.

Stepping into the Mine Wars

The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in Matewan, W.Va., chronicles the struggle to unionize the state’s coal mines. Photographs and artifacts introduce visitors to the people and events from that time.

The Changing Nature of Rural Electric Cooperatives in the 21st Century

Learn more about how rural electric cooperatives are leading the way to a more sustainable energy future, by helping their members pay for energy efficiency home improvements.

Industrial Hemp Offers Hope to Appalachia’s Farmers and Environment

Virginia farmers will soon be able to grow hemp for industrial purposes — albeit with restrictions. Industrial hemp farming is also being explored to varying degrees in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.

Service, Music and Community at Appalachian South Folklife Center

The Appalachian South Folklife Center in southern West Virginia has weathered many storms over the past half century, yet continues to provide help to residents in need, education for youth, and a safe harbor for activists.

FloydFest: Celebrating Music and Mountains

For the second year in a row, Appalachian Voices and Floydfest are teaming up to encourage and promote stewardship of the Appalachian region, blending the joyous atmosphere of a music festival with opportunities to learn about environmental threats to the mountains and discover ways to get involved.

Environmental Summer Camps 2016

Browse our online listing of summer camp programs for all ages . The majority of these regional camps emphasize environmental sciences and sustainability, with outdoor activities including hiking, wilderness skills, field science and more.

Celebrating Two Decades and Counting…

This year marks the 20th anniversary of The Appalachian Voice. Learn how the newspaper got its start and how the organization, Appalachian Voices, came into being a year later.

Blasted: Homeowners near mine seek recourse for property damage

Karen and Jerry Kirk live in a home that they believe was damaged during blasting for a nearby surface mine. Despite years of frustration, they have been unable to get compensation for the damage to their property.

West Virginia Communities Still at Risk Despite Idled Mines

West Virginia communities, including Naoma and Sundial are still dealing with problems related to mountaintop removal coal mining. Toxic coal slurry impoundments, increased blasting and diminished water quality are among the challenges facing such communities at risk.

Powering Up: Diversifying central Appalachia’s economy

As coal production continues to decline, many citizens and groups in Central Appalachia are working hard to find new avenues for economic diversification.

Two New Children’s Books Share Tales of the Outdoors and Activism

Two new children’s books are set in Appalachia. “Saving Annie’s Mountain” is a picture book about mountaintop coal removal, and “The Adventures of Bubba Jones” is a chapter book about kids exploring nature in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Faced with Threats to Nolichucky River, Residents Unite

Concerned citizens have joined together to monitor the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee for pollution that could result from a new industrial pipeline. Though the water is still at risk, opposition to the pipeline has spurred community engagement.

Living on Bottled Water

Residents of Belmont, N.C., continue to rely on bottled water, after tests of the drinking wells within 1,000 feet of Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds showed contamination.

Pedal in the Mountains

Bicycle tourism is gaining in popularity, and initiatives across the Appalachian region are making it easier for people to explore the area by bike.

Water Privatization

The troubles of an investor-owned, private water utility in West Virginia illustrate some of the hazards of private water ownership. Nationally, the number of Americans relying on public water utilities is growing, and for-profit water companies face a tougher market.

Scientists implement bioremediation techniques in an effort to reduce the volume of PCBs at the overflow pond in Altavista, Va. Photo by Kevin Sowers

Virginia Town Tests Natural Pollution Treatment Techniques

Using natural methods to remove toxic material from soil and water is an ancient practice that has not been well-studied. A series of projects in Altavista, Va., could be the first to show that bioremediation can be a successful, cost-effective way to treat PCB contamination.

A view of the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant. Photo courtesy Blue Grass Chemical Stockpile Outreach Office

Disposing of a Chemical Past

Rockets and projectiles containing more than 500 tons of nerve gas and other chemical weapons from World War II and the Vietnam War era are stored near Richmond, Ky. If all goes according to plan, those weapons will be destroyed over the next few years in a multi-billion facility in final stages of construction.

A Deluge of Dam Removals

A torrent of dam removals have occurred across the country in the past decade, and Appalachia is no exception. We take a look at why some dams stand tall, and others are ready to fall.

Communities at Risk from Mountaintop Removal

A new interactive map shows that, even as Appalachian coal production declines, mountaintop removal coal mining is encroaching on many communities in the region.

On the Front Lines

When mountaintop removal threatened to surround the tiny town of Inman, Va., residents pushed back.

An Appalachian Bookshelf

Featuring reviews of “Phenomenal” by Leigh Ann Henion, “Beautiful Land of the Sky” by Loren M. Wood, and “Real Goods Solar Living Sourcebook” by John Schaeffer

Permit Renewal Raises Questions for Radford Arsenal

Air pollution concerns at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant spark a controversy in the New River Valley.

Under Pressure: A Fractured Relationship with Natural Gas

Across the East, fracking for natural gas is advancing in starts and stops — as some states embrace the practice, another bans it, and still more consider the risks and potential rewards of entering the fracking fray.

Digging Under the Surface: West Virginia’s Fracking Boom

Many West Virginia landowners agreed to sever the right to use their land from their rights to the minerals buried beneath the surface long before the onset of fracking technology. Today, fracking operators are using those old leases to bring industrial development to formerly secluded country homes, like the ridge above David Wentz’ house.

Pipe Dreams: The push to expand natural gas infrastructure

Landowners whose property lies along a natural gas pipeline route worry about local impacts, while others warn of the long-term consequences that could come with a reliance on this fickle fuel.

Citizen Scientists Tackle Climate Change

Across the region, volunteers from all walks of life are recording when the dogwood blooms and when the warblers arrive. These citizen scientists are compiling observations that help researchers monitor subtle changes in seasonal events, and provide the backbone for extensive projects to track climate change.

FloydFest 14 Celebrates Music, Community and Sustainability

Situated on a picturesque ridge just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Floyd, Va., FloydFest: Fire on the Mountain, is a stellar music festival with a community feel and an emphasis on family, art and celebration. This year, Appalachian Voices was chosen as the featured nonprofit.

Coal Ash Management

The first federal regulations governing the disposal of toxic coal ash passed in December 2014. The rule provides some safeguards, but environmental advocates aren’t reassured. And in North Carolina, more than a year after the Dan River coal ash spill, communities living near the waste are still concerned about the pollution’s effects.

Appalachian Voices Book Club

Appalachia’s triumphs and tragedies, its beauty and mystery, and its people’s tenacity, love and good humor have long been enshrined in fiction. This year, the stories of the region’s struggles with coal are reaching a national audience thanks to two powerful new novels.

Museum Celebrates Birthplace of Country Music

In the 1920s, regional musicians often jammed together in Bristol while waiting for the next train. Those sounds were recorded during the now-famous Bristol Sessions, and now a new museum pays homage to the living legacy of country music.

Families Win Energy Savings

A plastic tube winds through the Dunlaps’ front room to a door covered in red plastic sheeting. It’s the first step in a process to make this drafty home warmer and more efficient through smart investments in air-sealing and insulation.

Exposed: Linking Human Health and the Environment

As an assortment of pollutants leach into our lives, the harmful effects continue to surface in public health. Read about the connections between human health and environmental concerns associated with energy, pesticides and climate change. This article is featured in an Appalachian Voices webinar

Breaking Boundaries: Contemporary Appalachian Art

No solid boundaries define the work of contemporary Appalachian artists. Some pull from the narratives and imagery embedded in the region’s landscape and culture, while others reject tradition and embrace globalized approaches to their work. Yet what unites all of these artists are the stories they each hold, waiting to be told.

Fighting Mountaintop Removal During the Obama Years

In 2009, representatives of the new Obama administration repeated that “the administration will do what the science calls for.” In Appalachia, the science calls for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. Six years later, mountaintop removal is still happening.

Appalachia’s Health Checkup

For decades, residents of Appalachia have struggled with poor health and disproportionate rates of chronic disease. In the face of these challenges, efforts to bring medical care to those in need and foster healthier communities are growing.

Remembering an Environmental Warrior

Lenny Kohm was an activist who inspired countless people from the Arctic to Appalachia to stand up and exercise their right to protect the land and communities they love. We share several of the many tributes made to this hero, known by many as “The Chief.”

Southeast Solar Updates

Catch up on regional solar news, from an experimental solar power plant to community solar initiatives to good and bad state policies.

Entrepreneur Banks on the Sun

The contraption looks like a piece of a tanning bed, exposed on a rooftop, leaning toward the sun. But rather than emitting powerful UV rays, these tubes capture them and heat water in a process called solar thermal, harnessing the sun’s energy at a rate that is more than five times more effective than most photovoltaic solar panels.

Ecotourism Rises Along with Hope for a Region’s Future

After enduring generations of the booms and busts of an economy almost entirely dependent on the coal industry, the residents of far southwest Virginia are beginning to take their economic future into their own hands by capitalizing on the mountainous region’s incredible natural beauty to promote ecotourism.

A Family’s Troubled Water

After mountaintop removal coal mining began near their eastern Kentucky home, the Halberts saw their water quality and quality of life plummet. Three years later, they continue to seek answers.

Getting Wild: The Tennessee Wilderness Proposal

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Currently, a proposal to designate nearly 20,000 acres of the Cherokee National Forest as official wilderness sits in Congress. Writer Chris Samoray takes a hike through a proposed wild area along the Bald River.

Seeking Justice: Activists and agencies react to systemic violations of mining laws

James C. Justice is the rare, modern-day coal baron who actually resides in Appalachia. Despite his local ties, Justice-owned operations in five states have earned him a reputation among environmental advocates as one of the region’s worst violators of mining laws.

One Artist’s Experience with Coal Ash

Caroline Armijo began an environmental justice art project after seeing many friends and family die from cancer in her North Carolina community, near one of the state’s largest coal ash impoundments. In this excerpt from her website, she describes the circumstances that shaped her paper sculpture creation, titled “Gray Matter.”

The Truth About Coal Ash

Coal ash — the byproduct of burning coal for electricity — is currently less regulated than regular household garbage. Filled with heavy metals, coal ash is proven to contaminate groundwater and pollute communities with dust.

Illustration by Jack Rooney


Most people have probably never heard of selenium, but for coal operators and fish it’s a big deal. Appalachian Voices’ water quality expert takes a moment to explain the issues surrounding this mineral — necessary in small amounts but toxic to aquatic life even at very low levels — and the EPA’s controversial attempts to regulate it.

Interns at the New Beginnings camp meet in the afternoons to plan for upcoming days and discuss how to resolve conflicts between campers. Photo by Kimber Ray

Seeding Dreams with Self-Esteem

Through educational advancement and hands-on training, two programs strive to build new opportunities for girls and women in rural Appalachia.

Exploring Mountain Bogs

Although mountain bogs represent less than one percent of the southern Appalachian landscape, they are pockets of immense ecological and practical importance and provide a haven for many rare plants and animals.

Full Disclosure?

As North Carolina considers its first natural gas drilling rules, a survey of the region shows how states are — and aren’t — regulating fracking.

Selenium has caused grotesque deformities from s-curved spines and double-headed larvae to fish with both eyes on the same side of their heads. These fish (above) were caught at Belews Lake, N.C., which is adjacent to a Duke Energy coal-fired power plant. Photo by Dr. Dennis Lemly

Study Shows Steep Decline in Fish Populations Near Mountaintop Removal

A study from researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey published in July provides strong new evidence that mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia is devastating downstream fish populations.

At What Cost?

Concerns about Duke’s toxic coal ash have prompted Annie Brown and dozens of other community members to meet regularly since July 2013 to discuss how to get it out of their neighborhood once and for all. The group, which calls itself “Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup,” has recently grown in size, becoming more outspoken and more certain of their demands.

More Than a Market

By Megan Northcote Shopping for fresh, locally grown foods at farmers markets is always a refreshing way…

Facing the Frontier: Practical Considerations for Genetic Modification in Appalachian Food

By Valerie Bruchon It sounds perfect: enter a laboratory, change one quality of a food crop through…

Murky Rules Raise Questions About Coal Ash Minefill

By Brian Sewell When FirstEnergy Corporation announced plans last year to close Little Blue Run coal ash…

Confronting Carbon Pollution

By Molly Moore Six months after declaring “climate change is a fact,” in his State of the…

Toxic Warnings: Recent Spills Underscore Lack of Water Oversight

By Kimber Ray In the early morning hours of Jan. 9, Kim Thompson was getting ready to…

Appalachia’s Place in the War on Poverty

By Molly Moore Patsy Dowling considers herself a success of the War on Poverty. As a premature…

Attempts at Legislation, Regulation Follow Water Threats

By Molly Moore Almost as soon as West Virginia American Water Company ordered 300,000 residents to avoid…

Volunteering in Appalachia: A Community Effort

Volunteering in Appalachia: A Community Effort By Kelsey Boyajian, Meredith Warfield and Emmalee Zupo Appalachia’s rich history…

Handing Off and Holding On: Melungeon Identity and Appalachia

By Kimber Ray Attempting to trace the origin of the Melungeon people is akin to pursuing the…

Mountaintop Removal Masquerade

Opponents of Proposed Surface Mine Highway Push for Environmental Review By Molly Moore Tim Mullins recalls what…

Appalachian Bookshelf

The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature By David George Haskell In a circle of Cumberland…

Whitewashing Reality: Diversity in Appalachia

By Rachel Ellen Simon The United States may be thought of as the good ol’ “Red, White,…

Adam Hall: A Defender of West Virginia

By Kimber Ray Depressed towns and waters laced with toxic chemicals have been handed down to West…

An Unforgettable Lesson, Forgotten

Just after midnight, a thunderous swell of sound peeled apart the silence that had settled onto Harriman, Tenn. A mountain of black coal ash — the waste byproduct of burning coal — descended upon the surrounding neighborhood, snapping trees and ripping three homes from their foundations.

Innovating with Electric Cooperatives

By Sarah Kellogg An inspiring, forward-thinking businessman, Mike Couick works to distribute affordable electricity to rural homes….

Ralph Davis: Exploring Appalachia’s Future

By Nolen Nychay In his 21 years of journalistic work at publications such as the Jackson County…

Paige Cordial: Minding Mental Health

By Rachel Ellen Simon Post-traumatic stress disorder is most commonly associated with soldiers who have seen combat,…

Dewayne Barton: Building Opportunity in West Asheville

By Kimber Ray Dewayne Barton isn’t only referring to nature when he talks about changing the way…

Matt Hepler: Charting a Path to Clean Water

By Molly Moore After studying geologic features and data, Matt Hepler maps out a handful of locations…

Patricia Beaver: Pioneer Appalachian Scholar Retires

By Rachel Ellen Simon Patricia Beaver may not be a household name in all circles, but mention…

Only God Should Move Mountains

By Nolen Nychay For Reverend Ryan Bennett, creation care is about encouraging environmental responsibility through the Biblical…

On the Right Side of the Law

By Molly Moore From the gallery of the Kentucky State Capitol, lawyer Wes Addington and a group…

Appalachia’s Contested History

By Bill Kovarik It has been 50 years since Harry Caudill wrote “Night Comes to the Cumberlands,”…

An Era of Undoing: The State of Appalachia’s Labor Unions

By Brian Sewell “We are union,” the marchers chanted. Blanketing the streets of downtown Charleston, W.Va., with…

The Spirit of Foxfire is Alive in Appalachia

By Peter Boucher In 1966, a high school teacher in Rabun County, Ga., tried a new teaching…

Historical Hidden Treasures of North Carolina

By Rachel Ellen Simon Junaluska Memorial Site, Museum, and Medicine Trail Cherokee warrior Junaluska was among the…

New Vision

By Matt Grimley The sun is beating down on a mid-July afternoon in Philippi, W.Va., but that…

Appalachian State University Competes in European Solar Decathlon

By Chelsey Fisher After winning “People’s Choice” in the 2011 U.S. Solar Decathlon, Appalachian State University has…

Almost Always Sunny in Appalachia

Whether through a power plant or from the home, solar energy’s future is bright By Matt Grimley…

Solar Leasing: Crediting Electric Bills with the Sun

By Davis Wax Energy distribution for the people, by the people. That was the founding principle of…

Garden Advice from the Experts!

As we prepared this agriculture-themed issue of The Appalachian Voice, we couldn’t help but think of how…

Heirloom Plants Preserve Tradition and Heritage

By Alix John Woody Malot loves talking about heirloom seeds and seed saving. He gives out heirloom…

Adapting Farms to Face the Climate Challenge

By Brian Sewell Around the world, farmers are arguably the first to feel the impacts of climate…

Bee Deaths Linked to Pesticides

By Davis Wax More than 30 percent of managed bee colonies in the United States perished this…

Four Ways to Preserve the Farm

By Matt Grimley Between economic, legal, regional and personal circumstances, no two farmers will make the same…

Power to the People

By Molly Moore It’s no coincidence that the words “electricity” and “power” can be used interchangeably. Our…

Safe Passage

By Matt Grimley Every fall and spring, an ongoing restlessness called zugenruhe begins to make some birds’…

The Ebb and Flow of Appalachia’s Game Species

By Davis Wax From the mythic, raccoon-crowned Daniel Boone to the adventurous, tradition-minded hunter of today, hunting…

Spelunking the Highlands | Owning the Caves

Worley’s Cave: Worthy of Respect and Care By Matt Grimley With my headlight loosely strapped and my…

The Custodian’s Conundrum

By Molly Moore A swarthy tree trunk stands in a small clearing, a gap in the forest…

Global Connections

Goods we take for granted today, such as spices, sugar, silk and coffee, were once signs of…

Finding a Common Language

By Matt Grimley Lucy Hoffman hears her cell phone buzzing at all hours. At Avery Amigos, a…

A Clean(er) World

By Molly Moore No country is an energy island. In the face of a European Union sanction…

Extracting Insight

By Paige Campbell Half a million people live on the hundreds of specks in the wide-open Pacific…

Kindred in Song

By Brian Sewell “Greetings from North Carolina.” Doc Watson’s rich, syrupy baritone voice is instantly recognizable in…

A Double-Edged Sword

By Jesse Wood The expansion of global markets and its effect on Appalachia has been a lopsided,…

World Market

By Molly Moore Appalachian farms are many things: bucolic, rugged, diverse and productive. But rarely does the…

Equal Access

By Paige Campbell Eighth-grader Jarod Knight is having trouble with his homework. At his school in mountainous…


  Eight Reasons Why The Future is in Good Hands Check out these Eco-Champions: • Chloe and…

Grade Green

By Paige Campbell The school day has officially ended at Castlewood High School. But at the Wetlands…

Climate in the Classroom

Scientists and science educators overwhelmingly agree that climate change is real and that part of science education is informing students about that reality. Appalachian educators are up to the challenge.

Prescription to Play

By Brian Sewell Once upon a time, on an ordinary fall afternoon after returning home from school,…

Teaching the Natural World

By Molly Moore It’s 9:30 a.m., and the sun has yet to offer its full warmth to…

Bidding Farewell to a Mountain of a Man

By Lenny Kohm Larry Gibson was an exceptional man – a warrior for the mountains that he…

Photo by Chuck Sutherland

Hidden Treasures #3 — Waterways

Welcome to the third installment of our exploration of some of the most beautiful, off-the-beaten-path places in the Central and Southern Appalachian Mountains. In this issue, we hand picked some water-related hot spots perfect for late summer days: hikes, waterfalls, swimming holes and everything in between — areas that are perfect for dipping your toes, or your whole self, into the water.

Build a Rod, Tie a Fly: In Search of Healing Waters

By Brian Sewell When David Frady, a 46-year-old from Leicester, N.C., woke up this morning, he felt…

Dirty water

Buried Blackwater: Revealing Coal’s Dirty Secret

By Brian Sewell No one knows exactly when the industry began injecting coal slurry, the toxic, semi-solid…

Evolution of a Cattle Farm

By Jessica Kennedy After nearly 30 years of practicing continuous grazing on his cattle farm in rural…

HIDDEN TREASURES #2 — Public Lands

Stories by Madison Hinshaw, Jillian Randel, Jamie Goodman and Molly Moore Welcome to part two in our…

Plundering Private Property Rights

By Paige Campbell Half a dozen generations ago, when a coal-mining boom first enticed southwest Virginians to…

Larry Trivette Superintendent, Elk Knob State Park, N.C.

Guardians of our Public Lands

The employees of our state parks, national agencies and conservation organizations are committed to preserving the land…

Last Stand for the Southern Spruce-Fir?

Ancient Mountaintop Species Are Most Vulnerable As Appalachia Warms By Molly Moore At the nonprofit park atop…

Rooted: The Evolution of America’s Conservation Movement

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” Edward Abbey, The “Thoreau of…

Environmental Summer Camps — The Sequel!

Spring is here and that means it’s almost time for summer camp fun! From the coast of…

The Dirty Money Dozen

According to both the Center for Responsive Politics and Oil Change International, contributions from oil, gas and…

The Dirtiest Congress Money Could Buy

By Matt Wasson According to a report released at the end of 2011, the 112th Congress had…

The “Art” of Influence: A Story of Strategy in the Post-Citizens United Political Terrain

By Brian Sewell On March 15, when a campaign called N.C. Real Solutions launched, it came with…

The Emerging Efficiency Lobby: Diverse Interests Find Common Ground

By Molly Moore Conversations about blowing up mountains for easier access to coal or risking offshore oil…

Capturing Appalachia: Finalists From the Appalachian Mtn Photography Competition

By Jamie Goodman It took three judges almost a full day to narrow 1,156 entries down to…

Hueysville, Ky

Reclaiming Appalachia: Can Legislation and Enforcement Restore Mountains?

By Molly Moore Kathy Selvage has lived in Stephens, Va., her entire life. From her front porch,…

Remembering Buffalo Creek

By Brian Sewell In the morning of Feb. 26, 1972, nearly 132 million gallons of water and…

Yesterday and Today: Defending the Clean Water Act

By Jamie Goodman Forty years ago, it took a flaming river to spur our nation to protect…

Old Folktales Die Hard

By Brian Sewell “Murdered in May of 1865,” a white gravestone on the banks of the Yadkin…

Bees Share the True Cost of Coal

By Brian Sewell Outside of Appalachia, artists who acknowledge their connection to coal have adopted the issue…

Putting the Human Perspective into Mountaintop Removal

By Brian Sewell For every movement, there is a message. This message can take many forms, but…

Talking Tradition

By Molly Moore According to Gary Carden, the Scot-Irish people of Appalachia don’t communicate in dialogue. They…

Appalachian Documentaries

By Theresa L. Burris Residents of Appalachia have encountered prejudice through all types of media, some based…

Grassroots Filmmaking in Appalachia

By Tom Hansell Amazing documentaries come from the Appalachian region. From the Academy Award-winning Harlan County, U.S.A….

The Solar Decathlon

By Jeff Deal Those weren’t spaceships on Washington D.C.’s National Mall in September — they were entries…

Energizing the Clean Economy

Political speeches, the nightly news and newspaper headlines are filled with reminders of the battered economy and…

Forward Thinkers Move Back to the Land

by Rachael Goss When we think about the 1960s, certain iconic images pop up. From flower children…

Education: Appalachian Colleges Plant Seeds of Sustainability

By Meg Holden Many colleges and universities incorporate sustainability lessons into the classroom, but some exceed expectations….

Draftwood Horse Logging

By Jillian Randel Somewhere on the line between clear-cutting a forest and leaving it untouched lies a…

Community Kitchens: Taking Food From Farm to Table

By Julie Johnson Jack Fischer had a great idea for a product, but no space in which…

Threats to the Land

By Jillian Randel Since large-scale farms of today have replaced the small farms of old, the bucolic…

The Art of Mushrooming

By Meg Holden From portabellas and button mushrooms to the more exotic truffles and shiitakes, there’s no…

Seeing the Forests Because We Left The Trees

The region of central and southern Appalachia has more national land of any other region east of the Rockies. The parks and forests of Appalachia bring tourism, and tourism brings tourist dollars which help to boost the economies of our small mountain communities. With 2,193 hiking and biking trails—including 330 miles of the Appalachian Trail—in just the Jefferson and George Washington national forests alone, even the most rabid eco-tourist should have plenty do to for a while.

Appalachian Summer Music Festivals

Is the arrival of summer like music to your ears? There’s no better way to celebrate warmer…

Environmental Summer Camps

Summer is just around the corner and that means it’s time for summer camps! Environmental programs can…

Take Me to the River(Fest)

By Parker Stevens, Festival Coordinator Start your summer with a splash at the 2nd annual Appalachian Voices’…

Saluting the Women I Want to Be

By Jamie Goodman My grandmother was a true Appalachian mountain woman. She stood a mere 5 feet…

The Women of Appalachia: One of our most powerful natural resources

The Formidable, Fearless and Fantastic Women of Appalachia Story by Bill Kovarik Fearless women settled Appalachia –…

The Hemlocks! The Hemlocks!

Story by Jamie Goodman A striking new art exhibit has captured the life and death of the…

Mining Our Heritage

Story by Jason Reagan “And Daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, Down by the…


Songbirds at Risk as Local Hemlocks Disappear

Story by Hannah Aleshnick With a face more yellow than green, the Black-throated Green Warbler can often…

Get Clean and Green Around the House

Home Remedies Both Old & New Story by Jillian Randel Walk through the cleaning aisle in the…

Folk Remedies: Useful Plants From Your Backyard

Story by Yuri Woodstock There exists, under our feet, a cornucopia of edible or medicinal plants, fungi…

Annual Photo Competition Celebrates Appalachia

By Jillian Randel Three men pushing a Christmas tree bailer, a single set of footprints on a…

A Glance at the Political Landscape of Appalachia

By Derek Speranza What is in store for the future of Appalachia? With midterm elections approaching in…

Natural Gas, Is it Right for Appalachia?

By Derek Speranza It’s the middle of July in West Trenton, N.J. More than 600 protesters have…

Biofuels: Local Gives Way to Large Scale

By Bill Kovarik ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Melita Kyriakou watches as a big blue fuel truck with a…

Stewards of the Rock

Story and Photos by Megan Naylor Bouldering is a sport of strength, power and dynamics focusing on…

Keeping On the Sunny Side: Carter Family Fold Survives In Spite of Tragedy

Written by Joe Tennis Like the traditional tunes collected by her grandfather, Rita Forrester carries on, always…

Turning Trash Into Glass

Former Landfill Fuels The Pursuit of Art By Maureen Halsema Nestled in the Black Mountains of western…

Goats Galore! Forging a Life as a Dairy Farmer

By Julie Johnson John and Andrea Woodworth operate a small goat dairy farm outside of Gate City,…

Home Grown: From Farm to Farmer’s Market, Appalachians Seek to Bring New Meaning to Modern Agriculture

Story by Bill Kovarik Stroll through any farmer’s market and you’ll find a riot of color, taste,…