Now here’s a step in the right direction, a proposal to reforest about 10 percent of the Appalachian areas that have been damaged by mountaintop mining. According to George Fenwick in the Huffington Post:

Thanks to the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI), a cooperative effort among state, federal, and non-profit entities and universities of the Appalachian region, the bold and innovative Green Forest Works for Appalachia program is being put forward to employ thousands of local residents of rural coalfield communities in re-establishing high quality, diverse forests on these formerly mined lands.

The Green Forest Works proposal would employ more than 2,000 local residents to plant more than 125 million trees on approximately 175,000 acres of formerly mined lands by 2014. Beyond the creation of those initial jobs, this initiative would provide a renewable, sustainable, multi-use resource that will create long-term economic opportunities while enhancing the local and global environment through the restoration of diverse hardwood forests.

An army of outsiders has gone to Appalachia in the past to try to understand and solve the region’s problems without much success. The Green Forest Works proposal can triumph because it was designed by smart Appalachians for their own region and their own people. It presents the Obama Administration with a wonderful opportunity to give the people of Appalachia a chance to address their environmental and economic problems in their own way in a win-win-win scenario for jobs, ecosystems, and birds.

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