Terrys to travel, spread anti-pipeline message

Family that staged monthlong tree-sits to attend gatherings across Va.

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – To protest an area pipeline, one Roanoke County family has shifted from a physical protest to a purely vocal one.

The already outspoken Theresa “Red” Terry, 61, is going on a speaking tour of Virginia with her daughter Minor, 30, after both of them ended their tree-sits Saturday. They had stayed in the trees in the Mountain Valley Pipeline’s path for more than a month, blocking tree-cutting crews.

On Monday, the Terrys announced a series of meetings and gatherings that they will attend this week and said they would like to spread their anti-pipeline message and educate people on environmental concerns.

"If we can take all of that information to more people, hopefully, changes are made,” Minor Terry said as she and her mother spoke Monday morning with 10 News outside the family’s house in Bent Mountain.

The Terrys are scheduled to speak Monday night in Buckingham and Charlottesville and to spend time in the Richmond and northern Virginia areas Tuesday and Wednesday. They said they could continue traveling and speaking for weeks as long as they want to keep having conversations with people on both sides of the issues.

"I'm just telling it like it is,” Red Terry said. “People are stealing our land and a lot of other people have gone through the process.”

Red Terry said she doesn't like the strategy she says MVP is using to intimidate landowners.

“I know they like to threaten people. I know they like to fine people,” she said.

The Terrys have concerns over water quality as a result of the natural gas pipeline’s construction. They hope their property can survive the work the crews are doing and, if the pipeline is built, they hope there won't be any accidents.

“I would like Minor to raise the eighth generation of Terrys on this mountain,” Red Terry said.

The two sat in separate covered platforms around 30 feet in the air on property that MVP got through an easement, using eminent domain. Supporters camped in tents nearby as state and Roanoke County police looked on, blocking off the area after they charged both Terrys with trespassing on MVP’s land.

Minor Terry said that by using eminent domain, MVP is setting a dangerous precedent that companies can take land from citizens for the purpose of making money. She believes that more and more people are voicing their opposition to the company taking private land for the pipeline.

She said she doesn't regret the tree-sit but she wishes she had seen more change while she was up there, whether from Gov. Ralph Northam's office or at the regulatory and approval level, like new action from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The Terrys decided to end their tree-sit Saturday after a federal judge ruled Friday to impose a $1,000 per day fine if they stayed in the trees and set an order to kick in Thursday for U.S. marshals to use force to bring them down. The father, Coles Terry, received a $2,000 fine as part of the judge’s decision.

Red Terry said she had been looking forward to a bacon cheeseburger as her first meal after the tree-sit and it didn't disappoint her.

"And my husband goes, 'Shower first. You're not joining us until you come out of the shower,’” she said.

While in the tree, she said she tried to stay active so she wouldn't have problems with her legs when returning to the ground. She said Monday her legs have been shaking some but she's been able to walk.

"It was hard to stand up when it was so cold,” she said.

Minor Terry had no trouble describing how she felt coming down Saturday.

“I didn't shower for a month and I'm like, ‘Oh, I'm a gross swamp monster,’” she said.

They both were asking people not to hug them when they came down. Many supporters chose to do so anyway.

The family’s story caught nationwide attention last month, but some of the online popularity was lost on Red Terry. When a supporter told her, "Red, you have your own hashtag," she responded by asking, "What's a hashtag?"

Now, the Terrys said they want to spread awareness of the issues surrounding the pipeline any way they can.