CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A group trying to stop a mountaintop mining operation just outside Kanawha State Forest hopes to educate the public this week about why they believe the project is a bad idea.

Members of the Kanawha Forest Coalition held the first of three lunchtime discussions Monday at the Kanawha County Public Library focused on Keystone Industries KD#2 permit to surface mine 418 acres east of the forest. The state DEP approved the permit back in May and work began in June. The coalition has filed a lawsuit to rescind the permit. A decision is expected sometime this month.

Jennifer Smith/MetroNews

Doug Wood is taking part in discussions this week about a controversial mining project.

The public discussions are giving people a chance to learn more about the project from the coalition’s perspective. Currently the permit requires a 588-foot buffer zone

“If we’re that close, there are certain things that can happen that will damage the potential for tourism out there, blasting noise for one thing, dust another thing,” said Doug Wood, a member of the coalition. “There’s potential damage to the water resources that flow through the forest also and to the fish and wildlife.”

Since work began four months ago, Keystone has already had problems working within the permit.

“We were assured initially that the forest would be protected and there have already been five notices of violation issued by the DEP,” said Wood.

He hopes the lunchtime discussions, which also take place on Wednesday and Friday, will encourage more people to get involved in protesting the continued mining.

“The best thing that could happen is if the permit is rescinded. We’d like to see eventually the land change ownership to the benefit of the landowner currently through use of land and conservation fund monies or other land trusts that might be able to pitch in and purchase the property,” stressed Wood.

The coalition said without more grass roots support they won’t succeed.

“It’s going to take a lot of the public involved telling their elected representatives, Governor Tomblin and delegates to look this over very closely,” explained Wood.

The KD#2 permit isn’t the first mining project near the forest. Currently 45 percent of the forest is surrounded by mining operations.

The lunchtime discussions on Wednesday and Friday will take place on the third floor of the Kanawha County Public Library starting at noon.