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Mountain Heroes: Sid Moye

My name is Sid .

I'm proud of my Appalachian Mountains.
And I won't give up on our Mountains.

When they leave, after the coal company is done with this, we'll not have any resources, we'll not have any land, we'll not have any water, the air is already poisoned. We just don't know what to do about it … It's just a scary thing.

Photo by Mark Schmerling

Sid Moye: My Mountain Story

Born in Fayette County, WV, on a small family farm on the edge of the state's New River Gorge Canyon, 65-year-old Sid Moye has spent his entire life in the "Wild and Wonderful" state of West Virginia. He spent 43 years working as a commercial printer and raising three daughters with his wife, Dana. He has never considered himself an environmentalist—just a regular mountain man who loves his family, loves his garden, and loves life in the mountains. For the last two years, he's served as a volunteer, along with his daughter Wendy, with the local groups Mountain Justice and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition to stop mountaintop removal mining.

Here's part of Sid's story:

"As I was growing up in the mountains of West Virginia, I went fishing a lot and had a good time at it. Then when I got married, had a job, and was raising a family, I found that I really didn't have time anymore to go fishing. It was expensive, I had to go buy a fishing license, it took time away from my family and from my work. So I decided, well, I'll just wait till I am retired, when the kids are all gone, and I'll just go fishing then because they'll give me a free fishing license then.

"When my 65th birthday came, and I had just retired, I called the West Virginia natural resource people and found out that I could use my driver's license as my fishing license, and it was free! I was real tickled about that. I thought, 'Now, I can go fishing, I can take the wife, and we can go sit on the riverbank and enjoy what's left of things.'

"Then I get a letter from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. They were telling me that the streams in Southern West Virginia had all been polluted with mercury and PCBs and all sorts of heavy metals, and that sort of thing. They said, You can go ahead and go fishing and catch a small amount of bass. But you shouldn't eat more than four portions per year of the fish. That really hit me. We can't even eat the fish here now.

"They want us to go fishing and they want us to spend a lot of money buying bait and lures and equipment and that sort of thing and yet they can't furnish a healthy fish. There's very few native fish left in the creeks, and the ones that are left aren't fit to eat. Its been a real disappointment to me. I was so much looking forward to going fishing. I worked for 50 years in order to have at least that for a hobby or something I could do to sit and reflect on things, but that is gone now.

"And at that moment, I knew I had to do something about mountaintop removal mining, which is poisoning our waters."