The larger mines and most of
the smaller ones as well, did a pretty good job of reforestation.
The many strip benches that were turned into flat pastureland became home
to local wildlife at a fast rate. It was common to see deer and turkey
on some of the more remote sections of the job just out there grazing along.
Our most northern job was situated next to an area that been mined long ago and had a considerable amount of land. On it were some wild horses that had been there for a very long time and had grown long hair on their bodies to protect them from the harsh winter winds. They were a treat to see because they looked like little "Mastodons" with all that hair and you only saw them about once a year.
The bossed had a good laugh one day when they heard that the early shift guys had a real startle while waiting for their shift to start. They were in a heavy mountain fog sitting on some large rocks that lined the edge of their new work road and were enjoying their coffee. They said that it was dead quiet, due to the fog, and really eerie out there. All of a sudden they heard this slow rumble coming down the mountain heading their way. It kept on coming and began sounding like a landslide headed their way. They looked up the mountain but couldn't see a thing. When it became obvious that the slide was going to hid directly where they were they high-tailed it under their trucks spilling their coffee all over the place. Just as they were about to be cover up out of the fog comes that herd of wild horses. The guys said that it was the spookiest thing they had ever seen and that it was like being in some kind of horror movie. The horses apparently didn't know that they were there either and ran smack into and around their vehicles. Because of the long hair on the horses they didn't recognize them as such and that made it even scarier. Whenever we saw the horses after that it always brought up that story and a few chuckles.
The big flat area of Mountain drive had several ponds that held some nice bass. I was told that one of the guys was pulling 5 lb bass out of one. That particular pond had a huge bolder on one side of it and a fox made a den there and had her pups there as well. It was nice to see her out in the open when we would over fly the job. We also saw deer quite often on that particular stretch of flat land.
Quail found the flat areas particularly attractive. Both quail and dove hunting were allowed but you better not shoot the fox or deer or you were out of a job.