Uploaded on Jul 18, 2008
America's Most Endangered Mountains - Gauley Mountain, WV
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- - - COMMUNITY STORY - - -
Until the mid-twentieth century, Ansted, West Virginia was a bustling coal camp. In 1950, the coal company that operated the local mine pulled out, leaving the community with a sense of economic depression. In the years that followed, residents banded together and reinspired a pride in their mountain region, eventually rebounding the local economy through a thriving tourism industry.
The town of Ansted and surrounding Fayette County possess an abundance of natural and historical resources. The region boasts the stunning confluence of the New and Gauley Rivers at the head of the New River Gorge, one of the most beautiful sights on the Eastern seaboard. The county also hosts the watershed of these rivers, as well as stunning views of the New River Gorge and Kanawha County. Visitors from all over visit Fayette County to paddle and fish the local rivers and hike mountain trails. Bald eagles and Peregrine falcons soar across regions of hardwood forest rich with fauna and flora. And prime farmland and natural springs still provide food and water to the local communities.
Father Roy Crist, the missioner of the New River Episcopal Ministry, became involved with efforts to save mountains when the county received an application for a mining permit on the backside of Gauley Mountain near the Gauley River and New River National Parks. Since mining began, the National Park Service noted no less than 16 violations of water quality. As mining continued, trout populations 'coincidentally' dwindled in Rich Creek, which drains the new mine sites on Gauley Mountain.
Local residents, including Father Crist and Cary Huffman, a retired coal miner, formed the Ansted Historic Preservation Council to protect the local mountains and streams from potential mountaintop removal. Signs of exploration and road construction have residents concerned about plans for more mountaintop removal.
As Father Crist explains, "People say coal mining is a part of our history, and yes, it is. But destroying the mountains by blowing the tops off of them is not a part of our history."
To support Father Crist, Cary Huffman and their community, contact:
Ansted Historical Preservation Council