Scott County & NKY Chapters Mountain Witness Tour

 On September 13th and 14th KFTC members and allies, anchored by members coming from Scott County, attended a Mountain Witness Tour visiting members from Letcher and Harlan counties. The group, which included members from the Northern Kentucky and Scott County chapters, a blogger named Stormy, her daughter, allies from the Georgetown College Sustainability Initiative, and members of Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, began the weekend by visiting Wiley’s Last Resort on top of Pine Mountain.

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Jim Webb, the owner of Wiley’s Last Resort, and close friend Scott Goebel, a member of the Northern Kentucky chapter, shared the story of how the property came to belong to Jim, discussed Jim’s personal history, and the nearby trails.

The group then met with Jenny Williams, a member from Perry County who also is involved with Pathfinders, who lead everyone on a hike to nearby Bad Branch Falls. Along the way the group would chat about how many people utilized the trail, observed the undisturbed beauty of the trail, and compared the local outdoors opportunities to other desired spots.

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From there members visited Larry Joe Ison, who was later joined by Roy Silver, to observe the strip mining that was occurring across the way from his place on Black Mountain. Larry Joe also shared stories of his life growing up and living in Letcher County and the changes he has seen to the Cumberland River near his property.

Roy Silver discussed KFTC’s work on the ‘broad form deed’, how he first came to be involved with KFTC, and the work Harlan County members were doing around transition and energy efficiency in cities like Benham and Lynch. He detailed the work the chapter had done to fight for funds to retrofit Lynch municipal buildings to be more energy efficient, and the money that is saving the community in electricity costs.

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The discussion turned towards the stark contrast to the sites they saw on Pine Mountain, from Wiley’s Last Resort, Bad Branch Falls, and Larry Joe’s place, to what they saw across the way on Black Mountain, and the potential for a more diverse economy in the region.

The group finished their day meeting with Elmer Lloyd, a retired coal miner, who’s fishing pond periodically has filled with sediment from runoff of a strip mining site above his land. He told everyone how he has had to force the coal company to clean his pond several times as a result.

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In addition, he showed folks his work on a new greenhouse, and the group talked about growing local farmers’ markets, the need to keep money local, and different strategies people use to help make their land profitable.

The weekend allowed members to better understand a few of the opportunities eastern Kentucky presents, and to meet members who are working for a brighter future each and every day.

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