Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

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This article originally provided by The Herald-Dispatch

July 8, 2006

Golf course on destroyed mountain is disgrace, not a joy

I was driving through Mingo County and saw a sign that pointed to the Twisted Gun golf course. I had to drive up there and see what the coal company TV ads have been bragging about.

In reporter David Walsh's puff piece in The Herald-Dispatch on Twisted Gun on June 15, he exudes about the view. He says that when golfers drive up to the parking lot, they see a stark contrast.

"Stark" is right. In every direction there are stark reminders that the beautiful mountains are gone. It was green fairways sitting in the middle of a moonscape. Of course there were no trees. The native hardwoods such as hickory and oak will never grow there, nor will the lush understory of an unmolested Appalachian hardwood forest.

Walsh writes that golfers have unobstructed views of ridges in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. The view is unobstructed because the closest mountains have been blasted away.

One golfing official allowed as how "it best exemplifies what coal operators can do." It sure does! The destroyed mountains all around and the streams filled in with mine waste show what the mine operators can do.

The same official said that the hills are a hurdle to having more great courses. Well, what a pity that those pesky old Appalachian mountains get in the way of knocking a small white ball around. Who needs the mountains if it means we can't play golf?

The title of the article -- "Twisted Gun turns coal mine to gold mine" -- is surely a joke. There were 17 cars in the parking lot at 3 p.m. on a Thursday. I suppose three or four of those belong to employees. That golf course will never pay for itself. It will probably never meet operating expenses. It will never be shut down as long as the coal companies can use it for their propaganda.

Walsh wrote that there are reminders of the region's heritage everywhere. If destroyed mountains are our heritage, it is certainly viewed in all directions from Twisted Gun -- a stark reminder of what our children are inheriting. So far, that heritage is to the tune of 500,000 acres of destroyed mountains. To get a grasp on 500,000 acres, try to imagine a swath of destruction from New York to San Francisco.

Only 5 percent of the destroyed mountains have any kind of "economic development." Currently, 475,000 acres look like the moon with non-native grass that could grow through Teflon.

The golf official who seemed to be able to ignore the destruction all around Twisted Gun asked, "What more could you want?"

How about the end of mountain top removal?


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