Opinion | A Ray of Hope in a Slimy Southern Cave

The necessity could also be no extra determined than in Jefferson County, which in 2011 made headlines with a $4 billion municipal chapter. In 2020, analysts noticed its continued financial collapse as a dire warning of what might occur elsewhere in a pandemic-related recession.

But rural residents within the South are coming collectively on the facet of preservation. At a gathering of the Espresso County Fee on Nov. 10, opponents spoke in opposition to zoning modifications for 3 hours, prompting fee members to withdraw the quarry proposal — briefly, they mentioned, to make revisions. A brand new plan that will primarily open much more county land to quarries is scheduled for a vote on March 9.

Nationally, there are all the time greater environmental issues — local weather change, clear water, clear air, sustainable vitality, public lands opened to mining by the Trump administration, potential positive actions by the Biden administration. The large tales can depart smaller threats unnoticed past county strains, like salamanders ignored in a cave.

In 2017, I interviewed Mr. Prine for a literary web site, asking whether or not he had traveled currently to Kentucky’s Inexperienced River, the place the city of Paradise as soon as lay. “The few instances I’ve had entry to a ship within the latter years and been in a position to go down the river,” he mentioned, “it surprisingly appears lots prefer it did after I was a child.”

He paused to elucidate. “Once you’re on the river, the whole lot’s grown up, the grass and the bushes, and you may’t see all of the harm that’s been achieved. Besides while you go proper by the place the city sat. You already know, after all, the coal chutes and the whole lot are on the river the place they loaded the barges up.”

Mr. Prine taught me to understand nature as fleeting. So did exploring caves. Each time I pause underground to think about my approach ahead, I spot nature inches away. If the combat for Butler Mountain is misplaced, likelihood is that the encircling land will nonetheless look a lot the identical to informal vacationers. However it is going to look endlessly modified to residents, cavers and slimy salamanders.

Vulcan Supplies could have hauled it away.

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