Yellow Finch tree sitters told to leave by Montgomery County judge

New River Valley News

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — A small group of protestors who have been living in the trees in Montgomery County have been ordered by a circuit court judge to vacate the area.

The group, known as the Yellow Finch tree sitters, have been in the trees for over 800 days at this point, protesting the expansion of the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

They were given until Monday, Nov. 16, to leave.

On the last day for the protestors to leave the area, a separate crowd of the protestors stood along Lee Highway in Montgomery County to protest more than just the pipeline.

“We’re out here today in solidarity with the Yellow Finch tree sitters,” said Bridget Kelley, a protestor of the pipeline project since its beginning in 2014.

Kelley says she was angered by the court order.

“They have a right to be there,” she said. “They have a right to protect our environment, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Montgomery County deputies, as well as a team of MVP security, were at the tree sitter site Monday afternoon. They seemed to be scouting the area and checking to see if the tree sitters were still here.

They were.

At this point, it’s unclear what the next move for law enforcement is if the tree sitters decide to stay.

Shortly after law enforcement left the scene, a parade of supporters, the same group from Lee Highway, made its way down Yellow Finch Lane.

“The tree sitters are an inspiration to all of us,” Kelley said. “They are protecting the land. They can’t come through while they’re in the trees; they can’t cut the trees. car honks Solidarity. Woohoo!”

The Associated Press recently reported the pipeline’s environmental problems and legal challenges have delayed the project’s completion date to late 2021 and brought the cost up from $3.7 to $6 billion.

First and foremost is the safety of all those involved with the MVP project, whether they are supportive of or opposed to the project. While we respect the opinions of those who are opposed to MVP, and to natural gas pipelines in general, the actions taken by a few opponents have created unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved, including law enforcement, security personnel, project workers, and opponents themselves. We expect the opponents to adhere to the law and vacate their positions along the right-of-way, as outlined in the order. MVP’s priorities to protect cultural and historic resources, as well as preserve sensitive and environmental species remain paramount; however, it is also important that we work together to ensure everyone’s safety throughout the various phases of the construction process.

Statement from Mountain Valley Pipeline Spokesperson, Natalie Cox

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office confirms that if the tree sitters remain after Monday, they will work with the court on setting up another timeline to remove them.

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