The Forest Service has issued closure orders for both the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Project rights of way and access roads on National Forest System lands. See press coverage on the Forest Service closure of MVP and ACP routes.
The orders prohibits anyone from being within 200 feet of either side of a right-of-way established for the pipelines to pass through the National Forest, and also prohibits non-motorized and motorized use of certain roads, including those planned for use as access roads during construction. It threatens stiff fines and jail sentences for violators.
The Forest Service claims the closure orders are due to public safety hazards associated with constructing the ACP Project. It is far more likely, however, that the closure orders are meant to prevent citizen monitoring of pipeline construction.
Here is Maury Johnson’s statement on the closures:
MY STATEMENT CONCERNING THE CLOSURE OF THE JEFFERSON NATIONAL FOREST:
March 12, 2018
The Government Give-Away of our Public Lands
On March 7th, the USFS issued an order closing parts of the Jefferson National Forest and the Monongahela National Forest in the areas where the MVP and the ACP are to be built through the respective National Forests. Citing safety concerns they threaten people or organizations with the following sanctions for violating this order: “Violation of these prohibitions is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, imprisonment for not more than 6 months, or both. (16 U.S.C. 551 and 18 U.S.C. 3559 and 3571).”
As a citizen of Monroe County who has been hiking and protecting the Appalachian Trail and the Jefferson National Forest for more than 40 years I am appalled at this directive. It may seem to the average person that this was done to insure public safety, but I assure you that the intent of this order is to keep citizens, the press and other local officials from monitoring the pipeline construction activities. This is government over reach by bullying and threat of arrest, fines and imprisonment.
With this order the give-away of our PUBLIC Lands and the destruction of NATIONAL TREASURES like the Appalachian Trail is complete. We the People of WV and VA will stand together to fight this government give away for private profit. This will not stand.
Greenville, Monroe Co WV