Tree sitting protests resume in coal country

July 20, 2011 by Ken Ward Jr.

A group called Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS)  is saying on its website:

Two protesters associated with the RAMPS Campaign halted blasting on a portion of Alpha Natural Resources’ Bee Tree mountaintop removal mine on Coal River Mountain today by ascending two trees. Catherine-Ann MacDougal, 24, and Becks Kolins, 21, are on platforms approximately 80 feet off the ground within 300 feet of active blasting on the mine. The banners hanging from their platforms read “Stop Strip Mining” and “For Judy Bonds” in honor of strip mining activist Julia “Judy” Bonds of Packsville, W.Va. who died of cancer earlier this year. The activists demand that Alpha Natural Resources stop strip mining on Coal River Mountain and that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection prohibit future strip mining in the Coal River Watershed.

The website quoted MacDougal:

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. The Coal River watershed cannot tolerate any more damage. 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.

This action comes just a little more than a month after word that another group of protesters, affiliated with the group Climate Ground Zero, had settled a lawsuit that the operation’s former owners, Massey Energy, filed over similar peaceful civil disobedience protests.

UPDATED:  The press release from RAMPS added:

Lisa Henderson, Judy Bonds’ daughter and Coal River Valley resident, sees this action as a continuation of her mother’s work.

“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?’”

4 Responses to “Tree sitting protests resume in coal country”

  1. coalfire says:

    These people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They are tresspassing, putting themselves in harms way and costing taxpayers money in court costs when they do come down.

  2. Ralphieboy says:

    These people should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. They are tresspassing, putting themselves in harms way and costing taxpayers money in court costs when they do come down.

    …and what punishment would you recommend for the coal execs who have poisoned our water and air and raped the land of Coal River Mountain? These kids are heros, who are putting themselves in harm’s way and sacrificing their own freedom to save us from ourselves. I applaud their audacity and hope for their success.

  3. Ken Ward Jr. says:


    Please read the comment policy before you submit a comment,

    Among other things, comments suggesting physical violence against other human beings are not welcome on this blog, and our policy also mandates that you keep posts that are little more than cheer-leading to a minimum.

    Posts that don’t comply with the policy will not be published.


  4. PlethoDon Juan says:

    Now that The Last Mountain has been released I hope to see many more protests like this.

    Yes these kids (heroes) are putting themselves in harms way and acting in an extreme manner and I am sure they expect to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. That is the point of civil disobedience. Blowing up a mountain and destroying the watershed is also pretty extreme considering this project will only supply a scant few hours of electicity for the juggernaut that is this country’s energy diet. I will be sending money, as I hope other are, for the court costs so as to limit the expense (if any) to taxpayers.

    I once had the audacity to act out towards what I believe in a manner much like these kids, however I now have an important role to play that involves action I could not have taken before I finished my training and education. I still get accused of being a jack-booted thug for standing up to the coal industry and that suits me just fine.

    Go RAMPS!

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