The ‘Tree Sitters’ are back protesting in the state of West Virginia. The Alpha Natural Resources mining company had to stop its blasting on Coal River Mountain on Wednesday as the protestors camped out in the trees performing in their own words ‘a non-violent direct action campaign’.
The two women up in the trees in Raleigh County are Catherine Ann MacDougal, aged 24 and Becky Kolins, aged 21. They have set themselves up 80 feet above the ground on tree platforms located 300 feet away from the blasting site. The belong to a group called Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival.
They are protesting the mountain top removal method of mining employed by Alpha Natural Resources at their Bee Tree Mine near Marfork. They want the surface mining at Coal River Mountain to stop and also want the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to not issue any mining permits in the Coal River watershed region.
Catherine Ann MacDougal, one of the protestors said that she felt with the keen urgency of extinction, that Alpha Natural Resources could not 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 she could begin to detail the comprehensive destruction that surface mining and mountaintop removal wreak on the forest ecosystem of the southern Appalachian mountains.
They have hung banners with "Stop Strip Mining" and "For Judy Bonds." Judy Bonds was a long time mountain top removal opponent. She passed away last year after a long battle with cancer. Her daughter Lisa Henderson saw the tree sitter’s action as a continuation of her mother’s work.