Nine-Day Tree Sit Ends at Coal River Mountain

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Coal

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After enduring over a week of ice and rain, mind-numbing noise abuse and harassment by Massey security, Eric and Amber came down today. The Climate Ground Zero tree sitters vowed that the fight to save Coal River Mountain and stop mountaintop removal is far from over.

Eric Blevins Stopping the Blasting

Amber stopping blasting on Coal River Mountain

Yesterday after meeting with coalfield activists, WV Gov. Joe issued a moratorium on Massey’s use of sound machines and asked the WV state police and Raleigh County prosecutors to investigate whether Massey was endangering the sitters lives with their noise abuse.

Coal River Mountain Map

Nine-Day Tree Sit Ends, Sitters Vow Not Over Until Blasting Stops
January 29, 2010

PETTUS, WVa—After blocking Massey Energy’s operations on the Bee Tree Permit for nine days, Amber Nitchman, 19, and Eric Blevins, 28 descended from their respective trees. They had occupied the two oak trees—originally accompanied by a third tree sitter, David Aaron Smith, 23—to protest mountaintop removal and the blasting of Coal River Mountain. Upon descent, they were immediately arrested by West Virginia State Troopers. The sitters’ decision to leave the trees was made in light of the recent drop in temperature.

After a week of Massey security harassing the sitters with deafening sirens and air horns, a call-in pressure campaign was launched by Climate Ground Zero, Mountain Justice and other anti-mountaintop removal groups. The receipt of hundreds of calls from around the country led to an emergency meeting with Climate Ground Zero volunteers, the Raleigh County prosecutor and Governor Manchin. The meeting resulted in the moratorium and a call for an investigation of the abuse. The tree sit represents Climate Ground Zero’s most sustained intervention in mountaintop removal mining operations since its campaign of nonviolent direct action began last February. Volunteers know that the fight is far from over and expect work to commence on the Bee Tree site immediately. However, they see this tree sit as a victory. “It halted blasting for nine days. I think they’ve wildly succeeded with their goals,” said Climate Ground Zero volunteer Mike Bowersox. In a final communication from her perch, Nitchman captured the group’s resolve. “Its not over until the blasting is stopped,” she said.

4 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Cari Moore says:

    I was under the impression that the tree sitters, although very near the Massey blast site (close enough to halt blasting), were actually not on Massey’s so called property, but just bordering it. Was that incorrect? If it is correct, how can they legally arrest them? What charges are they facing? 9 days is great. I know it had to be tough to spend 9 days in a tree without coming down, esp. in this weather and with that harassment. Great fight.

  2. Janie says:

    I hope that you are right, but I was told that the state police got them as soon as they got down from the trees, from a very trustworthy source V.T., they charged them I am fairly sure, if I am wrong I would like to be corrected I don’t think I am. I hate it for them. I haven’t really heard any more recently, if they were not on the coal companies property then they couldn’t get them that would be really great news. I hate to post bad information, but would rather post bad information than them be in jail some place. It would be easier to fix that. Here is another story: Here is one more, so I hope that I have accurate information to give you and others Just so that what we post is fair and accurate.

  3. Nice information on the blog. Removing large trees is a mammoth process and only experienced arborists who are completely insured to perform this task. We need to take all necessary precautions while removing trees so that nearby buildings, electric wire and other obstacles are not damaged.

  4. electric wire and other obstacles are not damaged.

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