New protester blocks pipeline workers

Woman plans to stay suspended over Giles County access road


GILES COUNTY, Va. – There’s a new obstacle in the way of some Mountain Valley Pipeline workers.

Another protester took a position Monday morning blocking construction in the Jefferson National Forest. People who have been to the location said that Fern MacDougal has created a new blockade, planning to stay on a platform about 30 feet off the ground.

Pictures showed ropes tied to nearby trees for support and a banner at the site reads, “still here.” She’s hovering over Pocahontas Road in Giles County. MVP workers have closed it to the public and Forest Service workers are enforcing the restricted access.

"Cutting through delicate karst topography and 300 miles of contiguous forest and family farms seized by eminent domain, MVP threatens to damage the health and wellbeing of poor and oppressed communities along the pipeline route by threatening the air, soil, and water,” MacDougal said in a statement.

Her location is about a two-to-three-hour hike from location on the road where Forest Service workers have restricted access, according to people who have been there.

A woman going by the name “Nutty” was in her 55th day Monday blocking workers on the same Giles County road about three miles away in a so-called monopod. She’s been without access to fresh supplies, including food and water, for more than four weeks. Supporters have been staying nearby at a campsite monitoring the activity of workers during that time.

A legal group filed a lawsuit last week asking a judge to grant a physician access to Nutty to provide medical care. Forest Service workers haven’t allowed anyone besides MVP workers past the taped-off area since they originally blocked access after Nutty ascended to her position.

At least nine protesters have taken positions in trees, or other aerial positions, to block pipeline construction workers this year.

One other tree-sitter is still in position in the natural gas pipeline’s route in Virginia. While the person’s identity is unknown, he or she is positioned in the middle of a Franklin County family’s farm. A judge ruled last week that two landowners will face a total of $2,000 in fines for allowing tree-sitters to take three positions in the pipeline’s path, blocking construction workers.

Two Roanoke County tree-sitters came down earlier this month in the middle of the family’s Bent Mountain property after a judge ordered fines and the potential for U.S. Marshals to remove them by force if necessary.

Construction continues on the Mountain Valley Pipeline, which is projected to run from West Virginia into North Carolina, crossing through Giles, Montgomery, Roanoke, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties in Virginia.

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