Local News

State Calls for Public Hearing On Controversial Mountain Mining Permit

Posted March 6, 2000 6:00 a.m. EST

— The fight to save part of the North Carolina mountains continues to escalate. It all started when people who live near the Appalachian Trailspoke out against a strip mining project. Now what many call a mistake by the state is turning into a huge battle led by the state's top attorney.

The Belview Mountain gravel mine is located less than two miles from the trail. Now,North Carolina Attorney GeneralMike Easley says there is no doubt the state made a mistake in granting a permit for the Avery County mine.

"I don't think there's any doubt the state made a mistake in issuing the permit," says Easley. "I mean, this is extremely valuable property. It's on the Appalachian Trail. This mining is not only within view, but it's within earshot."

The controversial mine blew up in the face of the state when theDepartment of Environment and Natural Resourcesgranted a permit for a gravel mine on Belview Mountain. The agency admits it granted the permit without realizing the mine was in full view of the Appalachian Trail.

Easley says his office is there to help.

"If they feel like they want to get a revocation and revoke the permit, we'll take action to revoke this permit. What we want them to do at this point is take some action, but don't let the Appalachian Trail, or the Toe River for that matter, be destroyed over an accident or an unintentional issuance of a permit."

A hearing about the future of the controversial mine will be held March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Avery County Courthouse in Newland.