Impressions from a tree planting event on an abandoned mining site in the Daniel Boone National Forest, organized by Kentucky Writers and Artists for Reforestation during a lull in Covid infections. Erik Reece writes in the invitation:
John Keats once imagined that human beings, at our best, might “become a grand democracy of Forest Trees!” I often think about all the things a forest has to teach us about human communities: the importance of diversity, integrity, stability, thrift, subsistence, interdependence, cooperation, health. Through our work at Kentucky Writers and Artists for Reforestation, I believe we can begin to restore the health of our native landscapes at the same time we work to replant the saplings of a real democracy.
The trees we plant on abandoned strip mines will purify streams, hold soil in place, prevent flooding, and provide habitat for 250 different songbirds whose populations are in decline throughout the Cumberland Plateau due largely to surface mining. “A culture is no better than its woods,” wrote the poet W.H. Auden. This country’s thirst for “cheap” energy in the form of coal has ravaged the mountains and the forests of Eastern Kentucky. Together we can help heal those wounds, create real benefits in terms of human health, and begin to establish a culture that is worthy of its woods.