Coal Museum Uses Solar Energy

In the words of the great Alanis Morissette, “Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?” The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is switching to solar power to save money. In March, panels were installed on the building located in Harlan County and owned by the Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, which is dedicated to preserving the legacy of miners and the coal industry. Brandon Robinson, the college’s communications director, told WYMT the renewable project will save between $8,000 and $10,000 annually.

Virginia Teacher Raises Money for Students with 50-Mile Run

A high school teacher in rural Virginia raised money for her school with a long run in early April. Kate Fletcher, who teaches 11th grade English at Louisa County High School in Louisa, Va., located between Richmond and Charlottesville, laced up her shoes and ran the track for an entire school day—starting before students arrived around 6am and stopping at the dismissal bell at 3pm—to raise funds for students. In completing the feat, called the Lion Pride Run after the school’s mascot, Fletcher ran 50.7 miles and raised $5,600 that will fund scholarships and benefit the school’s newspaper. Fletcher was joined throughout the day for laps by fellow teachers and students, and during her final spin around the track she was encouraged by an abundance of cheers, as the entire school community filled the surrounding stands at a celebratory pep rally. Fletcher told a local news station: “I hope that it sets the example that if you are persistent and work hard that things that seem impossible, really aren’t. All the kids at Louisa County High School have inspired me to be a better person each and every day that I’m working here.”

Pisgah’s New Addition

A key piece of land once targeted for the development of 86 homesites has been permanently protected and will now become part of the Pisgah National Forest in western North Carolina. Due to the diligent work of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and conservation-minded landowner Tom Oreck, the majority of the 84-acre Big Creek Lodge Tract will now be in the hands of the U.S. Forest Service. The recently finalized deal to transfer ownership of the land ends an effort that goes back a decade, when a previous owner revealed ambitions to turn the pristine tract into a housing development. Big Creek sits within the Mills River Recreation Area—an escape beloved by residents of nearby Asheville and Hendersonville—and coveted by anglers for its access to the North Fork of the Mills River, which provides drinking water for some area residents. Kieran Roe, executive director of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy, told the Asheville Citizen-Times: “It’s such a key location, if this were closed to the public, it would have impaired water quality and public enjoyment of the trout streams.”

Snowshoe Gets a New Owner

Aspen Ski Company, along with private equity firm KSL Capital Partners, purchased Intrawest for $1.5 billion. With the acquisition, Aspen, which already owns four ski mountains in Colorado, gets Intrawest’s six resorts, including Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia. Intrawest also owned Steamboat and Winter Park in Colorado, Stratton in Vermont, and Tremblant and Blue Mountain, both in Canada. Snowshoe CEO Frank DeBerry expressed optimism about the mountain’s new owners in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, saying, “We’ve got owners who are already really experienced in the ski industry, and they’ve expressed support to help us grow.” Consolidations like this are not surprising as resorts continue to evolve and look for ways to attract a new generation of skiers.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline Would Require 38 Mountaintop Removal Sites

Dominion Resources intends to blast away, excavate, and partially remove entire mountaintops along 38 miles of Appalachian ridgelines as part of the construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Engineering and policy experts have examined documents submitted by Dominion to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and, using GIS mapping software, found that Dominion would require mountaintops to be reduced along the proposed route of the pipeline. The height equivalent of a five-story building would be erased in places from fully forested and ancient mountains.

Dominion has yet to reveal how it intends to dispose of at least 247,000 dump-truck-loads of excess rock and soil—known as “overburden”—that would accumulate from the construction along just these 38 miles of ridgetops. “Many of the slopes along the right of way are significantly steeper than a black diamond ski slope,” said Joyce Burton, Board Member of Friends of Nelson. Both FERC and Dominion concede that constructing pipelines on these steep slopes can increase the potential for landslides, yet they still have not demonstrated how they propose to protect us from this risk.”