Image from “How to Destroy a Forest Habitat“
For the past few days, stepping outside, especially first thing in the morning, the scent of a wood burning fire is on the breeze through the hollow. I know my neighbors aren’t burning anything and there isn’t anyone other than the Senior Ranger for Kanawha State Forest upwind of us. He’s not burning anything either.
I suspect that the Keystone Development #2 coal mine has stared phase one and is clear cutting all the timber and burning it. I can’t prove this without trespassing on mine land. Or checking Google Earth and seeing if there is a recent satellite image.
Typically, they cut all of the trees and bulldoze them over the side (filling the valley/hollow) and set them on fire. The wood is not sold for lumber, mulched to feed the topsoil during reclamation, or given away as free fuel for residents in the area who still heat with wood burning stoves. It’s simply burned.
But I’m not sure what they are doing at KD#2. You see, the permit doesn’t allow them to fill the hollows/valleys surrounding the permit area. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing so. Often, according to the research I’ve been doing, they do what they want and simply absorb the fines into the cost of the job. The fines are so minimal that they are not a deterrent. There are no cameras on the work site. So unless an inspector just happens to stop up there, if they are bulldozing the trees over the side, no one will know. Honestly makes me wish I had access to a drone with a camera.
We can put surveillance cameras in the workplace. At traffic crossings. On our ATM’s. But not on the property of a mining permit that has some very specific restrictions. This makes no sense to me.
None of this makes any sense to me.
It breaks my heart to even think about the destruction of the trees. I’m reminded of Treebeard from “Lord of the Rings”:
Treebeard: [after seeing the torn-down forest around Isengard]
Many of these trees were my friends, creatures I had known from nut and acorn…
Pippin: I’m sorry Treebeard.
Treebeard: They had voices of their own…