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Locals: Second-Thoughts on Strip Mine Plans Near Robinson Forest

May 26, 2009

Frankfort, KY – One strip mine too many. That's what critics of a mine planned next to Robinson Forest in Breathitt County are saying, because the forest already is nearly surrounded by other mines that are drastically changing the topography.

Attorney Hank Graddy is an expert in water-quality law and a Sierra Club volunteer. He has examined the mining plans, which would bury up to two miles of streams as mountain tops are removed. Graddy says the forest contains some of the healthiest waterways in the Commonwealth, but that status cannot be maintained when everything around it is being uprooted or buried.

"That is such a special resource. But it is being surrounded by ravaged landscapes, so it's critical that we protect all of the forest connections."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering a permit for the Frasure Creek Mining Co. project south of the forest. The Corps' initial environmental assessment determined the mine would cause no significant impact, and backers of the mine welcome the mine's economic boost for the area. However, the public does get a say in the decision, and the deadline for citizen input is today.

Betsy Bennett, the Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter conservation chair, says the project needs a second look, to put it in perspective related to all of the other strip mining in the area.

"We want the Corps to go back and look at all the impacts on the forest - the direct, indirect and cumulative impacts - as well as all impacts on the area of this proposal."

More information about Sierra Club research into the mining proposal, as well as links to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for public comment, are available at kentucky.sierraclub.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - KY