How does mountaintop removal affect our land?
"They can never make it what it was before, the forest and the plant life can never be created again. Of course they have their showcase sites, but they have done a lot more destruction than they have good."
At least 125 plants with medicial uses grow in the Appalachian hardwood forest, about 50 that are commonly harvested and sold to herb dealers, supporting a local economy. These plants are wiped out by mining and never replaced in the reclamation process. (Source: USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station)
More than one million acres of Kentucky's land has been destroyed by strip mining. About 300 mountains here have been flattened.
The total is staggering, and in some counties in eastern Kentucky this represents more than 25% of the total land area in the county. Although there are a few exceptions, most of this land – some of the most biologically diverse in the northern hemisphere – is lost to any productive future use.
Reclamation is largely a joke. The forests are replaced with a monoculture of grass and exotic species that will grow on rock. Native wildlife is driven away as their habitat is destroyed.
Surface mining laws require, with few exceptions, that strip-mined mountains be returned to their "approximate original contour." This is rarely required by permitting officials or done by coal companies. Studies have documented that less than 3% of mined land is used for any productive commercial, industrial or residential use.
- Read about some individual mountains that have been lost at the National Memorial for the Mountains.