Whitesburg KY

Adams named coordinator of Clean Streams program

A joint program of the federal Office of Surface Mining and Americorps/VISTA designed to help create jobs through improved water quality has a new staff member in Letcher County.

Sam Adams is the new Clean Streams coordinator for the Head of Three Rivers Project. He replaces Evan Smith, who has completed his VISTA service.

The project’s aim is to identify problems caused by pre-1977 mining and find creative ways to develop the economy in the area by correcting those problems. The project is part of a national program known as the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Teams, the joint OSM/VISTA initiative.

Volunteers In Service To America, or VISTA, was created in 1964 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. The agency has undergone a number of changes since then, and was made part of Americorps under legislation championed by President Bill Clinton. It is the oldest part of Americorps, and the only one charged with the specific task of eradicating poverty in the United States. It is sometimes referred to as the domestic Peace Corps. Members sign up for 12-month tours, and are assigned to local nonprofits and government agencies.

The agency teamed up with OSM to create watershed teams in mining communities across the United States. The ACCWT includes teams in an eight-state area along the Appalachian Mountains. Other teams work in mining areas in the western United States.

Adams was sworn in November 16 in Atlanta and began his service November 17. He will be serving in the county where he grew up and has lived for most of his life. He is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and an author.

Head of Three Rivers is a project of Eastern Kentucky University’s Environmental Research Institute. That agency is involved in the Letcher County program because of EKU’s ownership of Lilley Cornett Woods, a tract of virgin forest at Linefork.

Anyone with concerns about stream quality, questions about the Head of Three Rivers Project, or ideas about economic development for Letcher County can contact Adams toll free at (877) 218-7482. The number works in Letcher County, as well as the rest of the country. He can be reached by email at letcherwater@gmail.com. OSM/ VISTAs are not enforcement personnel. Questions regarding violations of law should be directed to other agencies.

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