The natural beauty of Appalachia continues to dominate the landscape despite the wayward acts of litterbugs and the lack of adequate waste disposal systems in many areas.
Backwoods areas present a problem to the residents who lack a sanitary way of disposing of waste that they decide to dump into wooded areas or clearings.
Jimmy Fortune, one of The Statler Brothers, described such a garbage dump that he frequented as a boy while growing up in a mountainous area of Va. He told his audience that he found his first guitar in a garbage dump and took it home to fix it. The rest of the story is musical history.
Because of the rain and snow melt that follows such improper disposal of garbage, some of the garbage finds its way into mountain streams and rivers.
Then there are those who dump garbage directly into streams, an effective way of getting rid of the garbage from their sight. However, those downstream reap the consequences of having a polluted stream run through their property, settlement, town or city.
Compounding the litter problem are thousands of smokers, ones who crush out their cigarettes and leave a trail of butts behind them.
They often litter the roadsides by tossing their cigarette butts out the windows of their motor vehicles.
While the consumers who become litterbugs by improperly disposing of their candy wrappers, soft drink bottles, beer cans and sundry other items do not have to pay a litter tax in Va., businesses that sell or distribute groceries, soft drinks or beer must pay a $20 per year litter tax plus $30 for each location.
For example, if a business that fits the description has 10 locations, an additional $30 per location applies, and the chain of stores will be taxed $500 per year.
Of Virginia’s 134 counties, only 25 fall within Appalachia according to the Appalachian Regional Commission that was formed on March 9, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed ARDA into law with the intention of helping mountainous sections of 13 states achieve economic parity with other more prosperous sections of the nation.
West Virginia is the only state of the 13 that is geographically 100 percent a part of Appalachia, the area that stretches from New York to northern Miss. and Ala.
Litterbugs have managed to negatively impact each of the 423 counties that make up Appalachia.
Bobbing plastic bottles floating beneath discarded Pampers hanging where flood waters left them like flags of surrender on lower limbs of trees present displeasing sights for tourists and those who care about the land.
Compounding the problem that is caused by litterbugs, including those who continue to dump their garbage illegally is the leaching that takes place as a result of coal mining that scalps the ridges in many Appalachian counties.
Arsenic, selenium and cadmium can contaminate the water supply, all stemming from the way coal is removed from the earth, and silt and bits of coal often clog streams, leading to bank erosion.
The natural beauty of dogwoods in bloom each spring in Appalachia is pitted against the unsightly work of litterbugs.