How We Got Started
The Clinch Coalition was formed in 1998 as an organized citizen response to environmentally harmful clearcutting on High Knob in Wise County and Scott County, Virginia. Coalition members were first united against the 1400-acre Forest Service conducted Bark Camp Lake timber sale. Members created a petition and led a multi-year campaign which resulted in the reduction of the Bark Camp Lake timber sale to 700 acres. These early efforts were ignited by early founding members such as Steve Brooks, Otis Ward, Dick Austin, Gerry Scardo, and Joe Scardo. Coalition membership and efforts expanded from this cause and prompted the creation of regionally impactful community education and outreach programs. Through organized activism The Clinch Coalition has heightened community awareness for environmental causes in Southwest Virginia and within the Appalachian region for 25 years.
Coalition efforts have long been outlined by proactive, dynamic, and effectual activism. In 2001 Southwest Virginia was impacted by extreme flooding, which resulted in a loss of life and increased the national attention toward deforestation in Southwest Virginia. Alongside Clinch Coalition members, Virginia 9th District Congressman Rick Boucher visited Big Stoney Creek in Scott County and held hearings that addressed the tragic impact and causes of the flood. This historic disaster garnered increased support for The Clinch Coalition and motivated a continued concern for the regional environment and local community. In 2003 Coalition efforts prevented the harmful development of an ATV trail in the Mabe community of Scott County and prevented the destructive development of a golf course on the Flatwoods section of High Knob. This activism has remained a constant organizational effort, with continued advocation for environmental causes such as increased surface mining regulations, and through the enhancement of community outreach, education, and engagement.
Community outreach and education efforts have perpetually supplemented the mission of the Clinch Coalition. Since organizational inception this has included environmental education hikes and trail maintenance projects on High Knob area Forest Service at locations such as Little Stoney Falls, Roaring Branch, and Devil’s Fork. This has also included the creation of the Earth Awareness Art and Essay Contest in 2006, the first annually held High Knob Naturalist Rally in 2008, and the High Knob Hellbender 10K race in 2014. In 2018 the High Knob Naturalist Rally was attended by nearly 350 people and served as a testament to the growth and impact of Clinch Coalition efforts in Southwest Virginia. After the unanticipated 2020 advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Clinch Coalition utilized Facebook and Youtube to broadcast 2020 High Knob Naturalist Rally presentations. This resulted in a digitally accessible and successful High Knob Naturalist Rally that subverted the hazards of the pandemic and resulted in thousands of views and new digital subscribers.
Clinch Coalition activism, outreach, and education has contributed to the conservation of regional botanical species and has aided in the preservation of the idyllic Southwest Virginia landscape. Regionally significant and endangered aquatic species such as Oyster Mussels, Hellbenders, and Red-Spotted Newts have benefitted from these efforts as well. In recent years the Clinch Coalition has embraced digital communication platforms such as Zoom to safely reach and include current and new membership in organizational meetings. The Clinch Coalition has continued to educate and collaborate with local communities to prevent deforestation caused by harmful trail developments and logging operations. Since 2021, The Clinch Coalition has continued to expand their efforts and has encouraged safe citizen action and digital adaptation through their Leave a Tip website feature.
Celebrating 25 Years of Activism
In celebration of 25 years of activism, The Clinch Coalition has partnered with Dr. Jinny Turman and her history students in an effort to show youth the importance of communication, outreach, and education from local grassroots organizations.
This digital historic archive highlights The Clinch Coalition's efforts over the last decade and a half, and has photographs of important artifacts from the organization. We would like to thank Dr. Turman and her students for their continued dedication and precision with regards to preserving a history that is so longstanding.
Please view the archive and enjoy!