Monday, September 10, 2012

A voice for the mountain, silenced

Some time ago--can it really be four years?--I wrote about visiting Kayford Mountain, West Virginia, to see up close how mountaintop removal mining devastates the landscape (read it here).  "Located a mere 45-minute drive from Charleston, West Virginia," I wrote, "Kayford Mountain might as well be on the dark side of the moon. Mountaintop removal mining is practiced far from the prying eyes of a public so addicted to coal power that we don't care that this method of mining recovers only a tiny percentage of the coal from the area--while transforming wilderness areas and inhabited hollows into land on which nothing can grow or live."

Larry Gibson lived out his life on Kayford Mountain, devoting the past two decades to educating anyone who would listen about the value of the mountain ecosystem and the irreparable harm caused by mountaintop removal mining. He spoke for the felled trees, the polluted streams, and the birds that have lost their habitat, but he also spoke for the pain of people whose lives are displaced and their environments degraded by a disruptive and unnecessary mining method. 

Larry Gibson walked those hills and spoke for Kayford Mountain until he died there yesterday, age 66, of a heart attack (read about it here). His family's cemetery was destroyed by mining, but the mountain he so loved still stands as a monument to his work. 

For now.

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