82-Year-Old Hiker to Set Record + Jobs and Economic Growth in Appalachia

Photo: Intersection of roads and RR in a small coal-mining town in WV during rain, courtesy of Getty Images

82-Year-Old Man Hiking Appalachian Trail on Track to Set Record

Long-distance hiker and author Mj Eberhart, trail name “Nimblewill Nomad,” is currently hiking the A.T. for the third time in his life. When he completes the trail, he will have set the record for the oldest person to complete the A.T. at 82 years old. 

“This year’s odyssey will be known as “Odyssey 2021 ‘Bama to Baxter – Hike On,” Eberhart stated on his website. “This will be the ultimate journey in this old man’s life, one of body, mind, and spirit.” 

Eberhart began his journey nearly 150 days ago at Flagg Mountain, the southernmost mountain in the Appalachians Mountain Range. He actually began his hike on the Pinhoti Trail which leads to the Benton MacKaye Trail and connects to the starting point of the A.T. in Georgia. This route adds 350 miles to the 2,200 miles of the A.T., making his overall trip a 2,620-mile trek through 15 states. 

“It takes a deep-down commitment,” Eberhart told local news BRC 13 when he passed through Monroe County, Pa., this week. “It takes patience. I’m out here 147 days now, you can’t just do that on a casual whim… it’s something you have to plan and be really dedicated to accomplish.” 

You can follow Eberhart’s journey at his website where he posts writings, photos, and a whole lot of hiking appreciation and inspiration. https://nimblewillnomad.com/

New Research Shows Senate’s Largest-Ever Abandoned Mine Reclamation Investment Proposal Means New Jobs in Appalachi

As the world continues to crawl out of the economic setbacks of the pandemic, Appalachia gained some hope last week. After Senator Joe Manchin presented his energy infrastructure proposal, community leaders brought forward new research findings that prove legislative investments in abandoned mine reclamation/clean-up will create nearly $7 billion in new economic activity along with 2,700 jobs in three Appalachian states. 

“Unlike so many national challenges where there isn’t a concrete way forward, we know how to fix this. These are real infrastructure needs and we have a path forward that is feasible and that will greatly lift up an entire region,” Marissa Lautzenheiser, Director of Northern Programs for Rural Action, said in a press release. “We are primed. Our communities are ready to meet the opportunity with their skills, skilled labor, and their sweat. We are ready once again to be a driving force of innovation and economic stability.”

These new findings from West Virginia-based Downstream Strategies assessed how the $11.3 billion in new Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funding proposal would impact the economy of Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia. According to a press release, these AML investments would mean new jobs and new economic growth across coal communities. In West Virginia, 1,730 jobs would be created and $4.3 billion in economic output generated over 15 years. Ohio would add 680 jobs and $1.8 billion, while Virginia would add 300 jobs and $790 million. 

To ensure maximum benefit for communities, community leaders are urging legislation to ensure that local labor is used in these projects and that funding goes to cleaning up the sites that pose the most serious risk to community health and safety.

“By making these changes, Congress can ensure the benefits for local communities are maximized and that the $11 billion we are investing address the most pressing needs,” Chelsea Barnes, Legislative Director of Appalachian Voices, said in a press release. “It cannot be understated how impactful this investment would be to coal-impacted communities and workers across the country.”

Read the research report here or learn more about action being taken to AML’s at  reclaimact.com.

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