Whitesburg KY

Forestry reclamation wins award

A partnership between The Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team and the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative has won the Governor’s Environmental Leadership Award for forestry reclamation projects in Letcher and Whitley counties.

The ACCWT is made up of the Office of Surface Mining, Volunteers In Service to America, and local community groups. ARRI is made up of the Office of Surface Mining, state mining agencies, universities, industry, environmental groups and individuals.

This spring, the ACCWT and ARRI joined for the first time to successfully sponsor and organize eight treeplanting events on previously mined lands throughout the Appalachian coal region. One of those was on land reclaimed 20 years ago at Carcassonne in Letcher County, another was on an abandoned, previously unreclaimed mine outside Williamsburg in Whitley County.

Kentucky G ov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Environment and Energy Cabinet will recognize the accomplishment at a dinner in Lexington on Sept. 30, during the Governor’s Conference on the Environment.

A total of 104 citizens and industry volunteers planted 9,200 trees on 15 acres of abandoned or bond-released mine lands in the two demonstration projects. Of those totals, 4,200 trees were planted on five acres at Carcassonne. Five thousand were planted on 10 acres at Williamsburg. Together, these organizations are reestablishing the former eastern hardwood forest cover to create future economic opportunity. The events drew the attention of the United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Office for North America, and the agency’s deputy director attended the Carcassonne event to distribute pen-pal letters from Colombian high school students to students from Letcher County.

The effort included partners ranging from environmental groups to coal industry executives, and a slate of state, federal and local government agencies and nonprofits. These included The Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team, Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, Headwaters Inc., Eastern Coal Regional Roundtable, Kentucky Department for Natural Resources, Kentucky Division of Forestry, Kentucky Division of Abandoned Mine Lands, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, U.S. Office of Surface Mining, James River Coal, ArborGen, The American Chestnut Foundation, University of Kentucky, Letcher County Sheriff ‘s Department, Letcher County Public Schools, Letcher County Conservation District, Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association, Mary Miller of Nicholasville, Sandra Niemiec of Lexington, volunteers from the Sierra Club, local community volunteers, Carcassonne Community Center, The United Nations Environment Programme, Carcassonne landowners Willie and Gina Bates, and “Flying Rooster Farm” owners Eugene Siler Jr., Kenneth Nighbert, David Williams, Lester Shelley, Lee Bryant, Mike Bordies, Howard O. Mann, Larry West, and Gary Barton.

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