?Hon. Louie B. Nunn Governor of Kentucky-Frankfort, Kentucky-Dear Governor Nunn:
As a conservationist I am grateful to you for your action and concern in purchasing and conserving Lilly's Wood in Letcher County, and for your intervention to prevent the damming of the upper reaches of the Red River Gorge. Your record on these matters has encouraged me to believe that you may feel a similar desire to help prevent the needless destruction by Bethlehem Steel Corporation of a large territory of eastern Kentucky.
Bethlehem owns approximately 40, 000 acres in Letcher, Knott, Floyd, and Pike counties, According to reliable information its Board of Directors decided several years ago that it would not engage in strip mining because the damage to the land and adverse criticism resulting from strip mining outweighed any economic advantages derived from it. This was the policy of the company until the summer of this year. In this year officials of the company residing in Kentucky persuaded the Board to alter its previous decision and resort to strip mining. Again, it is my information that the Board authorized stripping with a good deal of hesitation.
Most of this land has already been deep mined or is scheduled for deep mining by existing or projected subterranean operations. The coal is of high quality metal-lurigical grade and subterranean operations will recover all of it except a small band in the outcrop.
Bethelhem plans to clear-cut and strip mine the outcrop on three levels. This will, of course, totally destroy the forest and turn the land into a massive ruin totally bereft of any ecological system. If the best reclamation procedures are followed and are highly successful, it will eventually be covered with fescue arid some pines and locust trees.
As you may be aware, this land lies in the heart of the Cumberlands, the oldest surviving mixed mesophitic forest in the world. The timber has been cut off, but the stand of second growth hardwoods is excellent and is growing rapidly. The land is beautiful, the natural beauty is improving yearly, and, if preserved, the timber will constitute an important attraction tho to furniture and other wood using industries in the years to come.