Although the idea
of a thousand Guckerts might shock the legal departments of the big coal
operators, it still would not be enough to supervise the vast coal deposits in
the Western U.S. For the problems—not insurmountable, claim some experts—are
big enough to require new types of thinking.
as in most of Appalachia, the overburden of the coal seam is often 80 to 100
feet. After removing only a couple of feet of coal thickness, there is plenty
of overburden to put back. In the West, the overburden may be only 20 feet
thick and the coal seam 50 feet. When you put back the 20 feet of overburden,
there is still a deep depression. And the rainfall in the West is so light that
revegetation is much more difficult than in Pennsylvania, so these huge holes
in the earth will not become beautiful man-made lakes as some have in the East.
But if a way is found, and a law made, all you need then is a thousand Bill
Guckerts parachuted into Billings, Mont.
about on his farm, checking his trout ponds and his fruit trees. "Look
here!" he yells. "The cockeyed beavers have been chewing up my dwarf
pear trees. They shouldn't do that. There's plenty of timber up in back of the
pond for them to make dams with.
animals is a terrible burden. All winter I run food up to the deer, I feed the
fish all year, and then some beaver does this." He glowers toward the pond
with its beaver dam. One imagines that Bill Guckert will set the Pennsylvania
beavers straight, in the same manner that he's kept a fist shaking at
strip-mine operators. The sons a' bees.