Tree sitting in the USA
The RAMPS Campaign put a couple of tree-sitters up on Coal River Mountain to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. The tree-sit has stopped Alpha Natural Resources strip mining operations on Coal River Mountain. Catherine-Ann MacDougal and Becks Kolins currently are sitting in trees 80 feet off the ground about 300 feet from active blasting operations.
Their banners read “STOP STRIP MINING” and “FOR JUDY BONDS.”
Judy Bonds was an Appalachian leader in the anti-mountaintop removal fight who died of cancer earlier this year.
Judy’s daughter, Lisa Henderson, said in support of the tree-sit, “I hope that today’s actions serve as a symbol that the struggle to live peacefully and pollution-free in the Coal River Valley did not end when my mother’s life did. My mother and I often compared the fight to survive here on Coal River to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. I am sure that generations from now, our children will look back on this movement also and the actions of the people involved, and ask the question of their elders, ‘Whose side were you on?’”
Alpha Natural Resources halted all work on the Bee Tree surface mine while WV State Police and mine security spent over four hours attempting to locate the position of the four young people – even with the company helicopter. Upon discovering them, Walk and Schewel, were arrested, and Kolins and MacDougal remain in their respective trees. They plan to stay there as long as they are physically able, in order to prevent Alpha from conducting further surface mining operations on Coal River Mountain. Blasting on the entire Bee Tree site was shut down for the whole day.
Kolins and MacDougal sent periodic text messages throughout Wednesday to their supporters. Kolins reported that a helicopter, owned by Alpha Natural Resources, hovered dangerously close to their tree. The two tree-sitters also confirmed that a bulldozer is slowly grading a road towards their location from the mine wall bench. Despite their isolation, these two, strong, brave young people, in the spirit of the late Judy Bonds, have vowed, “We Won’t Stop Until They Do – Stop All Strip Mining!”
Walk and Schewel were released from Southern Regional Jail at around 9:45pm, each was held with a $1000 bail. As is evidenced by the picture below, they are in high spirits, and are looking forward to a good night of sleep.
RAMPS would like to extend its gratitude to the multitude of people across the country that have expressed their unwavering support for the tree sitters who have chosen to take a stand for mountains and communities. Please be assured that these words of encouragement are being passed on to the young people in the trees, and will be ever more necessary with each passing day they spend sitting and sweating in the muggy West Virginia heat.
If you are able, consider donating $5, $25, $50 or more to the RAMPS’ campaign general fund. All money in the general fund goes towards feeding and housing the large behind-the-scenes support crew that is necessary to pull off an action of this nature safely, securely, and effectively.
Updates from the tree tops, coast to coast!
Eco-resistance from West Virginia and western Oregon
Coos County , OR— Early Tuesday morning a number of activists with Cascadia Forest Defenders and Cascadia Earth First! unfolded a series of road blockades in the Elliott State Forest closing access points to timber sales along the west fork of the Millicoma River. The blockades consist of an array of Tree-sits and ground level locking devices.
The sales are all slated for clear-cut logging, and are areas of native forest that have never before seen a chain saw. They exist on steep slopes where erosion from logging threatens to further damage Salmon habitat, as well as devastate protected species including Marbled Murrelet and Northern Spotted Owl.
“For decades, activists in the northwest pushed the forest service into changing there ways for the better, and we have seen dramatic improvements in the types of projects federal agencies are working on, The Oregon Department of Forestry has taken the opposite route, showing total disregard for life, and the health of these ecosystems, this is the beginning of a long term campaign that aims to see state lands managed for sustainability, bio-diversity and the overall health of the ecosystem, we will keep the pressure on in The Elliot, and all over the state of Oregon from this point forward” –Jason Gonzales, Cascadia Forest Defenders.
“The clearcutting in the Elliot is the worst in the state. They would never allow cuts like this on federal forest.” —Meredith Cocks of Cascadia Forest Defenders.
Activists in the canopy have issued the following list of demands for the State Land Board and the Oregon Department of Forestry that they say must be met before they will willingly leave the forest:
1) Cease all logging of native forests on public land in Oregon
2) Put a moratorium on all logging and road construction in the Elliot State Forest
3) Halt the export of raw logs from all Oregon forest, public or private
4) Reject the Oregon Department of Forestry’s 2011 Implementation Plan for the Elliot State Forest
5) Stop the use of herbicides and the slaughter of the native mountain beaver.
Contact ODF and tell them you support the demands: firstname.lastname@example.org… Phone: 503-945-7200 Fax: 503-945-7212
This action is a culmination of last weekend’s Forest Defense Action Camp. Around 70 people from around Coos and Douglas county, as well as other areas of Oregon and the country gathered near the Elkhorn Ranch ORV Park in the Elliot for the three day camp. Attendants were educated on current threats to the Elliot State Forest as well as provided with trainings to engage in direct action, climbing and more.
UPDATE: On Wednesday Night, July 27th, Law Enforcement arrived at the Elkhorn Ranch Timber Sale tree-sit and blockade in the Elliot. Protesters at the site have been warned that Law Enforcement will attempt to forcibly extract anyone remaining at the blockade at noon today, July 28th. Although a bulldozer plowed through the slash piles the previous evening, as of this report, road blockades and canopy occupations continue.
Tree sitters at mine site celebrate 10 days of holding off the blasts
While more ground support people have been arrested, the tree sitters are still holding out and calling for end of strip mining in Coal River watershed. Support continues to grow. Check out the new statement they released a yesterday.
New blockades in the Elliot State Forest
Lives of blockaders threatened by rogue bulldozer operator
“This is Cascadia Forest Defenders with an urgent call out for support on the Treesit and road blockade currently protecting Native forests in the Elliott State Forest. We have a stronghold that is holding but nearly lost 2 sitters at another site this morning, when a rogue, still un-identified bulldozer plowed through the slash piles and anchors which were attached to the road and were holding there platform in the trees, these brave individuals fortunately had good training and survived the incident.
If you are trained and experienced in forest defense, we need your help. If you are able, Join us in the Elliott, we need you on the roads and in the trees, contact us if you can help out.
If you are not in the area, We would love to see some solidarity actions! If you are in a position to to do so, take action to let the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the State Land Board know that their behavior in our state forests is unacceptable and must stop now!
Please send this message along, spread the word, Make some noise, and RISE UP against ODF and their heinous ways!”
Find out more from the Cascadia Forest Defenders.
Statement from Coal River Mountain tree sitter Catherine-Ann MacDougal
UPDATE: Day 4 of the West Virginia tree sit on Coal River Mountain. Reports from the direct action group RAMPS say the new canopy residents are staying dry despite the rain and collecting rainwater with their tarp. Both sitters are very glad that the rain has brought some slightly cooler weather. A message this evening from the sitters: ”Our first visit from a cop! He was nice. Not as cute as the baby bears though.” Apparently he was “just making small talk. Wanted to see us. Asked if we were in it for the long haul.”
Excerpt from Catherine-Ann MacDougal’s statement:
[T]he fabric of these ancient and diverse forests is being torn apart. There is no way that I can begin to detail the comprehensive destruction that surface mining and mountaintop removal wreak on the forest ecosystem of the southern Appalachian mountains. Valley fills choke ephemeral, intermittent, and other headwater streams, eliminating their function in providing organic matter downstream, increasing the sediment load, and causing flooding. Sulfuric acid released during mining leaches heavy metals that poison aquatic life and humans. The forests that are clear-cut before a mountaintop is destroyed cannot begin to grow back on a reclaimed site; the geology, hydrology, topography, substrate, and chemistry of a strip mined site cannot be manipulated to resemble those of the original forest, making reclamation an empty promise. The soils will take a century to recover, and the mountain itself will be gone forever…
I feel, with the keen urgency of extinction, that Alpha Natural Resources cannot be allowed to tear apart Coal River Mountain and allow all those living below it to suffer for their profits. Legal resistance to strip mining has been failing for decades; we can’t allow ourselves to be gulled into believing that we should confine ourselves mildly to sanctioned channels for change while those who profit from exploitation set the terms. We need to throw everything we can into the gears of big coal, costing them as much money and shame as possible. To this end, I am going to sit about fifty feet up in a tree for as long as I can.
I do this out of passion, and I do it out of love. I do it as an act of anger and of penance. I do it out of obligation and out of freedom.
If you haven’t begun already, I invite you to join us in the fight.