Tree cutting for Mountain Valley Pipeline continues despite March deadline

Published: Apr. 9, 2018 at 6:43 PM EDT
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The crews taking down trees along Mount Tabor Road in Montgomery County were back on Saturday, felling large trees along the edges of the pipeline corridor.

Pipeline opponents say they were surprised that the work continued after a March 31st deadline designed to protect endangered species, in part because caves in the area are home to hibernating bats.

Lynda Majors is a pipeline opponent who lives in Montgomery County.

"That was the whole legal push for early entry, that they had to get this done by March 31st," Majors told WDBJ7. "And what do we see here? They're still cutting. They're still cutting hundred-year-old trees."

The start of a new work week brought another challenge in Roanoke County, where pipeline opponents were raising similar concerns about tree cutting on Poor Mountain.

"We're not going anywhere," said Genesis Chapman, another pipeline opponent. "And we will be observing and making sure that everything is done exactly as the court ordered."

A spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said the company has completed all tree-felling activities in areas where time-of-year restrictions protect endangered bats. And the company said the project team continues to conduct tree-felling and other activities in accordance with state and federal laws.

Landowners don't know exactly where those areas are located, but they have referred to testimony from the MVP project manager. Robert Cooper said in court that up to 75 miles, or three-quarters, of the pipeline corridor in Virginia could be affected by the bat restrictions.

Roanoke County Police responded to Poor Mountain Monday morning, and officers asked protestors to leave the property where the crews were working. No one was arrested.

Pipeline opponents say a supervisor indicated he was pulling the chain saw crews from the area, but it's unclear what happened after police left the area.

Opponents say they will continue to monitor pipeline crews as they work in the area.