In this video, the four protestors, all of whom are awaiting arraignment in Beckley, WV’s Southern Regional Jail, speak about why they took action. You can read their written statements here.
“It was usually around July you could go up there and sit and it was like the annual bear gathering up there… The whole area was full of laurels. The bears had tunnels through them, it was so thick…What’s going on today you know with the Brushy Fork of course, that whole area has just about been stripped out now, and that’s all been taken away.” Ed Wiley on Coal River Mountain
MARFORK, W.Va. – Protestors associated with Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice have locked to and shut down a brhighwall miner on Coal River Mountain today. Colin Flood, 22, and Katie Huszcza, 21, are locked to the mining equipment on Massey Energy’s Bee Tree Surface Mine, near to the Brushy Fork Sludge Impoundment (maps: zoomed out, up-close). Their banner states “Save Coal River Mountain” alongside images of ginseng, a morel, a deer and a black bear, the West Virginia state animal.
The human rights activists locked down in order to bring attention to the many local resources that will be lost if blasting on Coal River Mountain continues. This destruction led the four protesters, including 22-year-old Jimmy Tobias and 20-year-old Sophie Kern, both of whom acted as direct support, to take part in the action. “These mountains are home to some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world and contain a variety of precious flora and fauna including edible and medicinal plants that can save lives, a wide array of extremely nutritious mushrooms, old growth forest and an abundance of deer and trout,” Huszcza said, “Coal River Mountain is priceless.”
“It was like an annual bear gathering up there,” Ed Wiley told me, referring to Coal River Mountain’s Brushy Fork area, at the time of this interview. That part of the mountain is now home to the largest earthen dam in the Western Hemisphere– filled with 7 billion gallons of toxic coal slurry.