Being a Sierra Club member does have its perks! In the Appalachian Chapter of the Ohio Sierra Club newsletter, I found out about this tour to see the effects of coal mining in Athens County. I originally signed up just to take photos, but I ended up learning so much about the history and the environmental issues of the area. Being a Chicago-area native, I was completely in the dark about strip mining and the effects it can have on water, a uniquely Appalachian environmental problem. At the end of the day, however, I knew a lot more, and I got a complete tour of Athens County. You can’t beat that with a stick!
We started out with a tour of the Sunday Creek Watershed – a system of streams and tributaries in Athens County – to see the effects of mining damage in the water. Some sights had been better cared for than others.
A retention pond helping to clear the water near glouster.
A wetland that has helped contaminated water deviate from its path in the creek.
Coal literally is lying all over the place in this corner of the world.
Disgusting aluminum contaminated water as a result of a strip mine.
This doser puts lime back in the water to balance the pH. Not very effective.
We stopped for lunch after the morning tour, and everyone enjoyed playing with the dog.
The second part of the day we traveled to a farm near Amesville that had strip mining damage.
Shale is the material that lies on top of the coal, and would normally be considered useless. However, the clever entrepreneurs of Appalachia used the Shale to make brick, thus creating more profit than just the coal, and being less wasteful.
These “high walls” that result from strip mining are not normal for the area. This particular one is over 100 ft. tall.
So then the most fun part of the trip:
Donnie Stevens, whose farm we visited, introduced us to his domesticated deer and his dogs, one of whom tried to run me over. The deer enjoy saltine crackers, even when I give them some.