Police warn tree sitter as pipeline preps continue on Bent Mountain

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ROANOKE CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Tree felling for the Mountain Valley Pipeline continued Thursday in Roanoke County, moving closer to a tree sitter who is protesting the project.

The woman, who identifies herself as "Red," has occupied the tree stand on her family's property for almost two weeks.

Roanoke County police were there early Thursday, warning the woman she was violating state law, and urging her to come down.

Crews wielding chainsaws took down trees on both sides of the tree stand, but there was no attempt to remove the woman from her perch. Late in the day, she was still there.

MVP crews and police played a waiting game, while Red's supporters offered encouragement.

"Having to to face off against MVP security, and law enforcement on private property i think gets people's blood boiling a little bit, tensions up," said pipeline opponent Russell Chisholm, "so I think we just wanted to have as many people out here today to stand and keep an eye on things and help Red feel a little bit better."

Others said the protest highlights the need for additional protections of landowners' property rights.

"When a private corporation can basically drum up a plan to take your land and profit as a result of it, well where does it end," asked pipeline opponent David Trible, "so we're here to support Red and we want the loggers off and the pipeline gone."

Roanoke County released the following statement Thursday afternoon:

"Thursday, April 12, 2018

Roanoke County Police have been in Bent Mountain today. There were approximately 12-15 individuals present in opposition of pipeline activities. Officers described all individuals as civil, with no threats made or serious issues. Tree clearing crews were present to conduct their permitted construction activities and police ensured safety for all parties present. Police asked individuals sitting in trees to come down and they refused. No attempt was made by police to extract the individuals from the trees. Officers remained nearby to ensure the individuals were not harmed during tree felling in close proximity.

Police are, and will continue to be, in the community to ensure safety and enforce the law. Police are working with the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office to enforce any court orders and violations of law. They are not there to interpret decisions made by FERC in regards to construction activities or deadlines."