Tree-sit Concludes After Thirty Days of Blocking Work on Coal River Mountain

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
posted by admin

RAMPS Campaign Vows to Continue Fighting to Save the Mountain

Marfork, W.Va.–Catherine-Ann MacDougal is descending her oak tree on Coal River Mountain that she has lived in for the past month in protest of strip mining, and police have been notified.  MacDougal, an activist with the RAMPS Campaign, had been in the oak tree on Alpha Natural Resources’ Bee Tree permit since July 20; until August 2, she had been joined by fellow RAMPS activist Becks Kolins.  Their tree-sit, the longest in West Virginia history, effectively halted blasting on the Bee Tree hollow portion of the site, aside from a small blast released on the third day of the tree-sit.

“The reality of limited resources now necessitates my descent but this is not the last they will see of us. I plan to remain here and fight for this mountain for years to come,” said MacDougal.

The Bee Tree permit is the largest active strip mining permit on Coal River Mountain and is currently up for renewal.  At a public hearing held last week by the W.Va. Department of Environmental Protection, about fifty residents showed up to ask questions and submit comments.  Many discussed their concern over the health impacts of mountaintop removal, blasting near the Brushy Fork Impoundment, and the destruction of the mountains where they and their families had traditionally hunted, fished, and gathered wild plants.

MacDougal explains that the apparent ineffectiveness of other strategies for citizens to have their concerns with strip mining taken seriously motivated her to take direct action: “I have written letters, tried to educate others, lobbied and volunteered. Yet throughout all of these things, I have felt the frustration of being up against the outrageous power of the coal industry. We do not live within a democracy but within a plutocracy—a government increasingly controlled by economic interests, by state and multi-national corporations.”  Indeed, the results of a poll conducted by  Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research & Consulting and released earlier this week found that West Virginians actually oppose mountaintop removal mining by a margin of 45:31. ¹

The Coal River Watershed has been decimated by strip mining and mountaintop removal.  Nearly a quarter of total land area in the watershed is being mined or permitted to be mined in the future, including over 5,000 acres of Coal River Mountain.  Across Central Appalachia, more than 1.2 million acres have been stripped for coal.  Recent studies have documented connections between strip mining and a range of health impacts, including birth defects and cancer. ²

Some local residents have expressed strong support for the tree-sit.  “I commend Catherine-Ann for her strength and determination to stay in that tree for a month to halt blasting around the Brushy Fork Impoundment,” said Debbie Jarrell, a lifelong resident of Rock Creek, W.Va.  “It’s the youth of today that will stop the short-sightedness of mountaintop removal that my generation has allowed.”

¹ “New poll shows widespread support for Clean Water Act”:


8 Responses to “Tree-sit Concludes After Thirty Days of Blocking Work on Coal River Mountain”

  1. Watcher says:

    Sure would’nt want to be anywhere near her, cause she, gotta be ripe.

  2. Hall says:

    Watcher, you’re so two dimensional.

  3. Denny Tyler says:

    I applaud RAMPS for taking action. I look at Watchers comment in relation to this post and see cause and effect. It is because of folks just like Watcher that make actions like this necessary.

    @Watcher… I see you are still spewing your garbage around the internet. For a man that seems to have a lot to say you can sure talk a lot without saying anything. Or at least nothing constructive, informative, or remotely intelligent. You look at your comment and see some kind of half baked witty humor… I look at it and see plain and simple ignorance.

    • Mr. Tyler, don’t even waste your time addressing “Watcher.”

      He watches us because he knows that there are more powerful destructive forces that do his dirty work for him. He doesn’t have to lift a finger to maintain the corrupt and dangerous status quo. He can just watch.

      He watches us because he has no good ideas. And he comments here because he is a small man inside, and is threatened by the positive change we embody. We sit and stop blasting. We march and we organize, and we sing while we do it. And he just sits there and watches!

  4. David Hoch says:

    What Catherine-Ann has done is truly astounding. Her courage and commitment are almost incomprehensible. She has done more toward saving the earth in the past month than 99.999% of us will do in our lifetimes. My admiration for and gratitude toward her are ineffable. Becks Kolins deserves deeply sincere kudos as well. Those who disagree with what these two people did in a stunningly bold attempt to save a mountain, Appalachia and our world, are entitled to do so. Those who attempt to mock this heroic action with insipid and unfathomably ignoble remarks only humiliate themselves. No one can say what impact this righteous tree sit will have on the evil practice of mountaintop removal mining, but in regard to Thoreau’s claim that “if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life s/he has imagined, s/he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours,” it seems fair to suggest that this consecrated deed by Catherine-Ann and Becks transcended life’s common hours. Peace and blessings to both of you.

  5. For those who are new here I direct you to the photo at the top of this website. It looks like a landing site on an asteroid in a Star Wars movie. That is what we, in WV, are getting in return for China and all the other coal buyers getting their coal fix.

    These two ladies will be remembered long after, unfortunately, the trees they were sitting in are gone. They will be remembered by the good WV people who live down stream of the sludge and grime that is coming their way. These two brave souls gave some of the residents in the surrounding area another 30 days of life as they know it.

    If there was coal under Wall Street and 1600 Penn Ave someone would sit in those old monuments to finance and government and say no, you may not plow this under and send the debris down the Hudson or Potomac.

    These ladies earned their red scarf/bandanna and should always be remembered in our hearts here in the hills.

  6. Watcher says:

    My apologies to Mr Tyler. I guess I’m on the wrong web site. I thought this was the proper place to spew my “garbage”. By the way ‘backwoods’ where you been? Thats right the coal baron is gone and you can crawl out of your hole and have a cancer stick , just don’t exhale in my direction.

  7. fuckyamountains says:

    I’m still not 100% sure where exactly they were blocking work from taking place for 30 days??? Beetree was running wide open shortly after they figured out their location!!! But, whatever you think! And watcher, yes I gaurantee that she was ripe!!!

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