When Julia Bonds’ six-year-old grandson pulled handfuls of dead fish from a mining-polluted stream in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, she knew it was time to take action. She now directs the Coal River Mountain Watch, which fights the devastating effects of blasting mountains in the United States’ Appalachians to get at coal seams. The blasting fills the air with particles that cause respiratory disease, and pollutes drinking water with arsenic, mercury and lead. Debris from the exploded mountaintops has buried 1,600 kilometres of streams and more than 120,000 hectares of forests. And flooding has increased as soil and vegetation have been removed. Now Bonds devotes her time to monitoring mining companies for violations, representing communities near mining sites, and campaigning against hazards associated with mining. Often threatened, she has helped get operations suspended at a polluting mine and won protection for communities from mine blasting. She, like Olya Melen and Libia Grueso, has received a Goldman Environmental Prize.