Author: Erik Reece
The mountains of Appalachia are home to one of the great forests of the world---scientists refer to it as the “rain forest” of North America because it predates the Ice Age and continues to host a remarkable density of diverse species. These mountains also hold the mother lode of American coal, and the coal-mining industry has long been the economic backbone for families in a region hard-pressed for other job opportunities. But now, with the advent of radical strip mining, aka “mountaintop removal,” it takes no more than ten men and some heavy machinery to blast off the top of a mountain, dump it in the valley below, and scoop out the coal. The economic and environmental consequences are devastating on an unprecedented scale.
Erik Reece chronicles the year he spent witnessing the systematic decimation of a single mountain, aptly named Lost Mountain. He makes evident that strip mining is not just a local concern or a radical issue, but a mainstream crisis that involves everything from corporate hubris and government neglect to species extinction and poisoned groundwater to class conflict and land scape destruction.
With Erik Reece, the mountains of Kentucky have found an eloquent and powerful spokesman in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Edward Abbey, and Rachel Carson. Lost Mountain will stand, like the work of those writers before him, as a landmark defense of a natural treasure---a core part of our national identity---threatened with extinction, as well as the introduction of a mighty new literary voice that offers hope and renewed energy to nature’s cause.