Trish McLawhorn, who was on site at the action, is a citizen monitor for Mountain Valley Watch, Preserve Bent Mountain, and POWHR Coalition (Protect Our Water, Heritage, Rights). “I am someone who strives to further educate and inform communities about, while actively opposing, environmentally destructive projects such as the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines,” Trish explained. “Those projects are currently causing irreparable harm and devastation to endangered species, as well as the desecration of stolen lands across territories now referred to as West Virginia and Virginia.
“As such, it was especially heartbreaking to visit, learn about, and bear witness to first hand mountaintop removal operations currently underway and happening for years in Appalachia. These forced alterations of the land to the detriment of the wild, precipitation cycles, and those who inhabit the valley below, are astounding and should never be exacted upon these beloved mountains. The implications of such mining processes are profound, forever altering the flow of water and vital functions of the ecological systems in place.
“The disruption of the natural world in this manner, as well as all other violent methods of fracturing our foundations, only strengthen my resolve and should compel every one of us, ever more deeply, to defend all that we love in Appalachia and beyond.
pic via Appalachians Against Pipelines
“Whether we are residing in communities fighting the Mountain Valley Pipeline, the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, or mountaintop removal coal mining, many are finding ways to continue to reach out, support one another, educate ourselves, and inform those around us about how these struggles are all connected. I encourage folks to become involved, both locally and in areas outside of impacted blast and incineration zones. We must continue our work to defend, support, and protect life, especially those most vulnerable, regardless of whether we are directly or indirectly impacted.
“These are the places we have called home for generations. Threats to our collective survival are truly what we are up against … this is what we have ALWAYS been up against! We must continue fighting to protect these spaces for generations to come, and we must honor our ancestors with action. We must never back down!”
Clyde Bowe, a lifelong resident of the Coal River Valley, remembers hunting and root digging on White Oak for decades before it was stripped: “They shouldn’t be stripping that mountain like that. That’s bullshit. I’ve lived here my whole friggin’ life. You can’t go up there and root dig anymore, or see live trees, ‘cause they’ve stripped it. They should’ve left it the hell alone, the way I see it.
“They’ve gotten rid of all the game and killed everything off — that used to be good hunting up there. They should leave what’s there the hell alone, and shouldn’t continue. We should make them stop, is the way I see it.”
A note on scale — the banner shown in the beginning of this video looks tiny compared to the massive machines on the mine site. But in reality, the total length of the banner is over 80 feet and is being held by 14 people. The extent of the devastation on the mountain is difficult to comprehend.