Laid-off miners in Kentucky protest over their unpaid wages

Around 60 to 100 coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky, blocked a railroad track, preventing coal trucks from leaving a mine owned by Revelation Energy LLC. The miners occupied the track in protest, after Revelation Energy LLC filed for bankruptcy and laid off the miners without paying the wages owed to them. Some of the miners were carrying signs that said “No pay, we stay” and all of them are demanding to be paid for the work they completed for the company. “We get our money, this load of coal that’s on this train can go by,” Shane Smith, one of the protesting miners, told news station WYMT. “But until then, there’ll be no trains coming in, there’ll be no trains going out.” Smith also told WYMT that he’d be arrested before he would move, a sentiment shared with many of the other protesting miners. 

96-Year-Old Record-Breaking Runner

This summer Roy Englert, 96, of Springfield, Va., broke the men’s 5K world record in the 95-99 age category at the USATF Masters Outdoor Championships. At the race in Ames, Iowa, on July 11, Englert posted a time of 42:20.33, handily beating the previous record of 50:10.56. Englert is making a habit of setting records for nonagenarian runners. Last year at the USATF Masters Indoor Track & Field Championships in Maryland he posted world records in the 800-meter, 1500-meter, and 3,000-meter races. He told the website Run Washington that he trains at least three days a week and admitted continuing to run isn’t always easy: “It’s not fun while you’re doing it. It’s fun when you’re finished. It’s hard work, actually.”

Plans to mine near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp pose ‘substantial risks’

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that a private company’s plans to mine minerals near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp poses “substantial risks,” and potentially irreversible damage, to the environment. Twin Pines Minerals LLC wants to mine titanium dioxide within four miles of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The permit request is currently under consideration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is still reviewing the plans but wrote in a memo back in February that the agency has “concerns that the proposed project poses substantial risks for significant effect to the environment,” and that “should impacts occur they may not be able to be reversed, repaired or mitigated.” The swamp has been protected since 1937 and serves as habitat for alligators, bald eagles, and other protected species. It is the largest federal refuge in the east. The administration of then-President Bill Clinton dismissed a similar mining plan by DuPont 20 years ago. 

Mountain Lion vs. Metallica

A hiker in British Columbia was walking her dog when she noticed a mountain lion watching her. It began to approach her, and then it crouched in a prowl-like stance. She yelled at the mountain lion, but it continued to stare at her. The hiker quickly found Metallica’s “Don’t Tread on Me” on her phone and turned the music on full blast and pointed it at the cougar, which bounded out of sight into a bush. 

Virginia Governor to create new Office of Outdoor Recreation

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has announced the creation of a new Office of Outdoor Recreation. The office will lead efforts to promote the outdoor recreation industry in the state and work on attracting new outdoor businesses. According to a press release issued by Governor Northam’s office, the outdoor recreation industry contributes $22 billion each year to the Virginia economy and employs more than 197,000 Virginians. Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade, Cassidy Rasnick, will lead the office. The first order of business is to spearhead an initiative to recruit manufacturers of outdoor products like kayaks, bikes, and gear. “In establishing a statewide Office of Outdoor Recreation, we are taking significant steps to recognize the importance of this industry as a true driver of economic development in the Commonwealth, and demonstrate why Virginia is the natural fit for outdoor business,” said Governor Northam. 

Federal court throws out two key permits for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

A judge with the U.S. 4th Circuit Court has ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t follow its order to protect endangered species when it fast-tracked and re-issued two permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Judge Robert Gregory ruled that, “in fast-tracking its decisions, the agency appears to have lost sight of the mandate under the ESA (Endangered Species Act): ‘to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats.’ Construction for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been held up since December 2018 due to regulatory setbacks. Dominion Energy, the major developer of the pipeline, released a statement saying that they expect the permits to be re-issued and the pipeline to be completed by late 2021.

Snowshoe Highlands named NEWEST IMBA Ride Center

The West Virginia Highlands of Pocahontas County were selected as a bronze level IMBA ride center, one of only 40 ride centers in the world. Snowshoe Mountain is the hub of the ride center.

Cycling for Life

Three bone marrow transplant survivors known as Team Lifeblood pedaled across the country this summer to raise funds for Be the Match, a nonprofit that assists those in need of bone marrow transplants. 

Hunter shoots at bigfoot near Mammoth cave campsite

Authorities are investigating a report that hunters camping at a backcountry campsite in Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park fired a gun after allegedly seeing Bigfoot. A bystander reported that he was camping with his girlfriend in a backcountry campsite when a man and his son awakened them around 1 a.m. The man said that both he and his son had heard strange noises and were going to investigate. About a minute later, a gunshot was fired. The man and his son then returned and told the camper that Bigfoot had emerged from the woods and so he had fired at it. The camper and his girlfriend decided to leave the area and report the gunfire. 

17 

Number of ski areas acquired by Vail Resorts in a summer deal, bringing the slope giant’s total to 34. They include Pennsylvania’s Liberty Mountain Resort, Roundtop Mountain Resort, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost, and Big Boulder. 

A 24-year-old woman has died while hiking to the “Into the Wild” bus

A young woman from Belarus drowned while crossing the Teklanika River in Denali National Park on the way to Fairbanks Bus 142, a landmark made famous by the book and movie Into the Wild. Christopher McCandless died in the bus in 1992 while attempting to live off the land. After the book and movie about McCandless were released, the bus became a destination for some hikers. The fatality occurred after Veramika Maikamava attempted to cross the Teklanika River by using a rope but was swept underwater by the swift current. Her husband, Piotr Mrkielau, unsuccessfully attempted to rescue her, pulling her body out of the water about 100 feet from where she fell in. Maikamava is not the first hiker to die while attempting to reach Fairbanks Bus 142. In 2010, a hiker from Switzerland died in the same river while on her way to the bus. Many others have had to be rescued. 

More Biking in the Blue Ridge from our September Bike Issue Here