Franklin County landowners hope historic artifacts help stop Mountain Valley Pipeline

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FRANKLIN COUNTY (WSLS 10) - Landowners in Franklin County said they're still fighting to stop the Mountain Valley Pipeline from coming onto their property.

That's following a setback Monday, when the State Supreme Court refused to hear a case on the constitutionality of Virginia's survey laws.

Now an archaeologist is offering free services to put another obstacle in the project's path.

The Bernard's live on a two-acre space of land in Franklin County that they just learned recently contains a piece of history.

"They found evidence of the Archaic period and the Woodland period," said Steve Bernard.

Native American remains that date back thousands of years, and they would have never known they were there were it not for archaeologist Mark Joyner donating his services for free.

"If they don't know they're there, then they're just going to be destroyed one after another without being analyzed," said Joyner.

Destroyed by machinery that would be used to put the Mountain Valley Pipeline straight through Bernard's property.

"I said how big is the equipment that you're going to bring in here? He said that it's going to be bigger than anything I'd ever seen. So I told him that absolutely no, I did not want them to come down my driveway," said Steve Bernard.

The Bernards have one of 20 properties Joyner says he's surveyed in Franklin County alone, pro-bono.

He's helped the Bernards document the finds as well.

Those will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, that has to review the pipeline's potential impacts.

Bernard's wife Anne says they are also submitting environmental concerns.

"We were finally able to, about 5 year ago, get this well drilled right here, and it was a big deal for us. Now the pipeline's going to be coming right next to it," said Anne Bernard.

The Mountain Valley Pipeline responded to a WSLS 10 request for comment Thursday, saying the surveying activity the company is now legally allowed to conduct will help identify and preserve the type of resources like those on the Bernard's property.

The Bernards say the project is expected to cross 144 different watersheds in Franklin County alone.

FERC will need to consider that environmental and historic data before approving or denying the project.

That decision is expected to be made this summer.