Nine-Day Tree Sit Ends at Coal River Mountain

posted by scott parkin

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.