Devastation Begins

Even before receiving all necessary permits, ACP devastation has begun in Nelson County. On Tuesday March 6, 2018, tree-felling began on Beech Grove Road at the entrance to Wintergreen at the site of the proposed horizontal directional drilling under the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail at Reeds Gap. The stream at the base of the picture (just behind the ACP’s “No Trespassing No Parking” sign) is the headwaters of the South Fork of the Rockfish River. Do we really believe they can stabilize that slope to keep sediment out between now and when construction is finished and they “restore” the area next year? How about in the years to come?

The Wintergreen covenants do not allow tree cutting like this on community property. But Dominion’s ACP does it with impunity. A statement from Wintergreen Property Owners Association issued the following statement: “The Wintergreen Property Owners Association (WPOA), while opposed to the location of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, understands and abides by the legal process that has led to the commencement of tree removal on WPOA property. While disappointed, the beginning of construction only increases our resolve to hold Dominion accountable for the financial and non-financial implications placed on our community by the presence of the pipeline. WPOA is committed to the best possible outcome for our community; one that provides fair treatment and security for our owners, employees and guests. WPOA remains committed to holding Dominion accountable for the taking of our property and the burden this project places on our community going forward.”

Watching the trees fall, Marilyn Shifflett said, “I knew this would be a tough day, and it was. Seeing those trees fall is beyond heartbreaking. I spent my youth in these mountains and on that road long before Wintergreen was conceived. Wintergreen development was a sad sight for those of us who remember it even though efforts were made to keep its forested land somewhat in tact. Privately, I still cringe every time I look at that line of condos on the ridge, and we have all certainly felt the impacts over the years. Change is inevitable, and time marches on. Sadly, this is not change or progress, but rather needless and thoughtless destruction meant only to line corporate pockets. The real impacts are yet to come and we will all need to be prepared and stand together. That floodplain that they tore through today serves as a filter for private wells below and they have not received a variance to cross it. When wells miles away suddenly dry up, it will be impossible to prove, but the threat is quite real. Shame on you Governor of Virginia!”

Richard Averitt said, “If you have had any doubts about how devastating this will be to our county, go see for yourself.” He added, “And it only strengthens my resolve to win,” he added. “We’re not gonna let this happen. … We’re going to do what it takes to legally stop this pipeline. … We’re not done. This doesn’t make me quit. This makes me all the more resolved to fight and beat this pipeline, to not be a victim of this kind of corporate abuse.”

Watch videos:

News coverage by the Lynchburg News & Advance and NBC29.  The News & Advance also has a photo gallery of the destruction.

Land-Disturbance Defined (per Virginia DEQ website): A land-disturbing activity is any land change on private or public land that may result in soil erosion from water or wind and the movement of sediments into state waters or onto lands in the Commonwealth, including, but not limited to, clearing, grading, excavating, transporting and filling of land.