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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It is one of the most evil environmental destructive paradigms that we humans have allowed to go on in the name of energy and poor paying jobs..........Since the 1970's, mining for coal expanded from the historical deep pit mining practices to removing the tops of mountains to get at the coal seam----- And in the process, dumping all of the earth, forest cover and living organisms down into the hollows and streams below..............Mountaintop Removal Mining has finally been fully exposed for it's destructiveness this past week by Duke University researchers as pure evil-------By removing as much as 40% of mountains and elevating the land beneath the mountains by as much as 10 feet,this type "mining(destruction) "completely resets the geomorphology of the landscape, and how that landscape will be shaped into future"........ "Mountains that have been blasted apart have different erosion processes as they did before"............... "The process often creates flat plateaus that are out of place among the rest of the Appalachian peaks, and which aren’t hospitable for forest regrowth(and previously indigenous wildlife diversity)".............."If there is any life form that cannot acclimate to life deep in a rubble pile, it is eliminated"........... "No effect on related environmental values is more adverse than (mountaintop removal mining) obliteration"

Scientists Have Now Quantified Mountaintop Removal Mining’s Destruction Of Appalachia

 FEB 11, 2016 8:00 
IT'S long been known that mountaintop removal
 mining, which involves blasting the tops off of
 mountains to get to coal underneath the 
surface, is a highly destructive process.
 But just how much the practice has altered
 the landscape of Appalachia hasn’t been quantified
 — until now.


This week, researchers from Duke University published
 a study on how mountaintop removal mining is drastically 
changing the landscape in Appalachia, making some regions
 40 percent flatter than they were before. The study, which
 focused on southern West Virginia, found that since the
 practice began in the 1970s, mountaintop removal mining
 has lowered the median slope — or steepness — of affected
 mountains by nearly 10 degrees. It’s also increased the
 elevation of affected landscapes by 3 meters (about 10 feet),
 due to valley fills — the practice of dumping the excess 
rock, dirt, and other waste created by the mountain blasts
 into valleys.

The study, which includes an app that displays how
 different parts of West Virginia have been affected by 
the practice, is the first to look at the impacts on
 mountaintop removal on a three-dimensional
 scale; past studies had only examined the area of 
land impacted by the practice. That research
 “had really done a good job of mapping the
 spacial extent of mining,” said Matthew Ross
, a PhD student at Duke University and lead
 author of the study.

“But mining is not just an impact that happens 
in space — it happens in depth. So we started to
 look for ways to assess spacial footprint but
 also topographic.”

The impact of mountaintop removal is so
 extreme, the study states, it shouldn’t be
 compared to other two-dimensional disturbances
 like deforestation. However destructive 
deforestation is to an ecosystem, it doesn’t reach 
the level of decimation of mountaintop removal.
“The physical effects of mountaintop mining 
are much more similar to volcanic eruptions,
 where the entire landscape is fractured,
 deepened, and decoupled from prior 
landscape evolution trajectories, effectively
 resetting the clock on landscape and ecosystem
 coevolution,” the report reads.

Mountaintop removal “completely resets the
 geomorphology of the landscape, and how that
 landscape will be shaped into future,” Ross said.
 Mountains that have been blasted apart have 
different erosion processes as they did before. 
The process often creates flat plateaus that are
 out of place among the rest of the Appalachian
 peaks, and which aren’t hospitable for forest 
regrowth — they often become grassy, instead
 of reverting back to forested landscape.
The study estimates that, “in southern West
 Virginia, more than 6.4 km3 of bedrock has
 been broken apart and deposited into 1,544
 headwater valley fills.” That volume of rock 
would bury Manhattan, Ross said. Some of the
 fills, Ross explained in a press release, “are
 the size of an Olympic swimming pool, while
 others are the size of 10,000 Olympic swimming pools.
“We’re only estimating the amount
 [coal companies] dump into valleys,
 but they also rebuild ridges with same rock,” 
he added. “Those numbers sort of baffled me 
when you put in context with natural processes
 and also human earth-moving processes.”

The mining waste that’s dumped in the valleys
 often contains selenium and heavy metals, which
 can negatively impact waterways downstream of 
the mining operation.Coal companies must get
 permits for valley fills, but the method of disposing
 waste does still happen in mountaintop removal
 operations. The practice buries any waterways in 
the valley, destroying aquatic life. As Chief U.S. 
District Judge Charles H. Haden II wrote in a 1999 
ruling on valley fills, “the normal flow and gradient
 of the stream is now buried under millions of cubic
 yards of excess spoil waste material, an extremely 
adverse effect. If there are fish, they cannot migrate.
 If there is any life form that cannot acclimate to life
 deep in a rubble pile, it is eliminated. No effect on
 related environmental values is more adverse than

“A poorly-designed mining site can cause pollution
 problems downstream for decades,” said Matt
 Wasson, director of programs at Appalachian Voices.
There is some progress being made to protect 
streams from the practice — the Interior
 Department, for instance, is currently working 
to finalize the Stream Protection Rule. The
 rule seeks to update mining regulations 
written in the 1980s, and will protect about
 6,500 miles of streams across the United States.
 It would require coal companies to more closely
 monitor stream health, mandate that companies 
restore streams and land affected by mining to
 a condition near what they were before mining, 
and would identify the riskiest mining practices
 for drinking water and streams. The rule isn’t
 perfect, however, and some groups say it doesn’t
 go far enough to protect ecosystems from 
mountaintop removal.

Ross and his team, meanwhile, are working
 on a study that seeks to quantify how valle
y fills impact water quality in Appalachia.
Mountaintop removal has been declining in
 Appalachian states — including West Virginia
, Kentucky, and Virginia — in recent years. 
But much of this decline has to do with 
competition from cheap natural gas, which is
 contributing to an overall decline in 
Appalachian’s coal industry. And coal 
companies are still applying for new 
mountaintop removal mining permits,
 Wasson said.

“If natural gas prices stayed where they
 are, then this wouldn’t be a big deal.
 They’re not going to stay that low. If 
those prices doubled a year from now,
 we could see a lot more mountaintop
 removal happening — that’s why they
 want these permits,” Wasson said.
 “Looking at the declining production
 numbers for mountaintop removal coal
 could easily lead you to a false sense of

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