Interior Dept. restricts mountain coal mining in East Tenn.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The Interior Department says it is designating more than 550 miles of mountain ridgelines in East Tennessee as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations.
The department’s action Wednesday comes at the request of the state, which said in a 2010 petition that mountaintop coal mining in the North Cumberland Wildlife Management Area and Emory River Tract Conservation Easement would result in significant damage to nature in the area and its cultural, scientific and aesthetic value.
The designation protects 74,968 acres associated with 569 miles of ridgeline in Anderson, Campbell, Scott, and Morgan counties.
The department said the designation helps protect an area that is “critical to the region’s tourism and outdoor recreation economy, provides valuable fish and wildlife habitat and supports a healthy watershed.”
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