SI Vault
 
HEALING THE WOUNDED EARTH
J. D. Reed
September 20, 1976
A loud-mouthed, no-nonsense, incorruptible public servant and the most stringent strip-mining laws in the country have reclaimed Pennsylvania land that once resembled a vision of hell
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
September 20, 1976

Healing The Wounded Earth

A loud-mouthed, no-nonsense, incorruptible public servant and the most stringent strip-mining laws in the country have reclaimed Pennsylvania land that once resembled a vision of hell

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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.

In Pennsylvania, 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.

Guckert putters 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.

"Having 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.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Related Topics
  ARTICLES GALLERIES COVERS
Ed Lancaster 1 0 0
William Guckert 2 0 0
Pennsylvania 277 0 1
Emerson Bowser 1 0 0
Al Hamilton 1 0 0