Founded in response to demands from watershed/community improvement groups throughout coal country, the work of the Appalachian Coal Country Team (ACCT) supports a growing movement that is quietly bringing new strength and new hope to the Appalachian region. The Team arms community organizations and watershed-based projects with the training, tools and volunteer support necessary to help local citizens become effective environmental stewards, community leaders and accelerators of change in places indelibly marked by the environmental legacy of pre-regulatory coal mining. Together, the Team and its local partners are propelling a new Appalachian economy based on conservation and development, strong partnerships, engaged citizens and new hope.
Formed in 2002, the ACCT is a partnership among the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), AmeriCorps VISTA, and watershed/community organizations, making the ACCT one of very few non-profits bringing greater connection and collaboration between federal agencies and small rural communities. The Team trains, supports and coordinates a dynamic, successful group of OSM/VISTA Volunteers, Summer Interns and their supervisors who promote social and environmental change at the grassroots level in Appalachian coalfields. OSM/VISTAs are college-educated Volunteers who serve full-time as “capacity builders” for a one year term.
Today the Team serves the eight states that encompass the majority of coal country in Appalachia: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, while our Summer Programs also serve in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, and Washington DC. The ACCT is the only regional organization currently addressing the challenges of coal country in these states -- all similar in geography, geology, and history, all impacted by pre-regulatory coal mining and its environmental and economic after effects, all characterized by a natural beauty and a proud heritage.