Over a month of no action: Yellow Finch Tree Sitters still in the trees in Montgomery County

New River Valley News

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — It’s been over a month since a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge ordered the Yellow Finch Tree Sitters to vacate the area they’ve been blockading for over 800 days, in opposition to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

As of Tuesday, Dec. 29, no efforts have been made to remove them.

“I have seen no attempt by law enforcement to patrol or siege in any sort of way or create any sort of ground camp,” said one of the tree sitters known as Acre.

Acre has been a part of the protest group for a little over a year, and most of that time has been in a tree.

Mountain Valley Pipeline has consistently stated the safety of everyone involved in the project, including those in protest is a priority.

The best way to protect and preserve the environment from potential erosion and sedimentation issues is to complete construction, finalize all restoration work along the right-of-way, and place the pipeline in-service. The continued challenges by the opposition to previously authorized and issued permits have caused not only delays for the project, but more importantly have caused lengthier, unnecessary disruption for all landowners along the route. The FERC’s previously issued orders authorizing forward construction to resume and granting MVP’s two-year certificate extension called attention to the fact that completion of construction and final restoration is best for the environment and the affected landowners.

Natalie Cox, Mountain Valley Pipeline Spokesperson

“I think the best way to preserve the environment is to not have any pipelines in the ground,” Acre said in response, with a laugh. “You can see the pipes shifting in the ground that they’ve already put in.”

By not obeying the court’s order to vacate, Acre and the other sitters are being fined $500 a day.

By our math, that puts the total, as of Tuesday, at $21,000.

Acre says extraction from the tree is inevitable, and if and when he is extracted, it will allow him to refocus his energy to fight the pipeline.

“I think a lot of other folks see that too as this isn’t sort of the grand finale of the pipeline fight as much as it’s another quarter, another turning stone in the great scheme of ending Mountain Valley Pipeline,” he said.

A spokesperson from Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says there currently is not much to update in their efforts to remove the tree sitters and that they are working with MVP and the courts to do so.

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