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Environment & Energy
00000176-e6f7-dce8-adff-f6f770520000The Allegheny Front is a radio program covering environmental issues in Western Pennsylvania. The Allegheny Front began in 1991 and continues to serve the community as the most insightful source of local and regional environmental news and information on the radio. The program explores environmental issues affecting the community through stories, interviews, news, and commentaries.

In Kentucky, A Prairie Made By Coal

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Reid R. Frazier
/
The Allegheny Front

Patrick Angel pulls his pickup truck off a small road in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, and points to a long ridge covered with dried, brown grass.

“If you didn’t know where you were, you'd think you were standing in a prairie land in South Dakota or Wyoming, because it’s all grass,” says Angel, a forester with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).

This flattened hilltop is what’s left over from mountaintop removal. This is the controversial form of surface mining where the top of a mountain is blown up and shoved into a valley to access a coal seam below.

Many hills in Eastern Kentucky now look exactly like this one—an artificial mesa covered by lespedeza, fescue, and other grasses whose tight roots choke out other plants. As a result, trees won’t grow here.

Read more of this report at the website of our partner The Allegheny Front.