Tree sitter continues pipeline protest in Franklin County

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FRANKLIN CO., Va. (WDBJ7) Four Corners Farm was quiet for most of the day.

A tree sitter remained high above Teel Creek. And there was little activity in the Mountain Valley Pipeline right-of-way.

Then, late Friday afternoon, crews working for MVP returned with federal marshals.

On Thursday, the tree sitter known as "Ink" recorded crews working close to the tree stand.

And on the ground, other pipeline opponents were watching the work, to make sure pipeline crews follow state and federal regulations.

Betty Werner is a co-owner of Four Corners Farm.

"Without landowners being involved, checking on them, I don't know what they would do," Werner told us, "or try to get away with."

During Thursday's interaction between MVP crews and pipeline opponents, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office was called, but deputies left without intervening.

In a statement this afternoon, a spokesperson for the Mountain Valley Pipeline said "ongoing disruption created by opponents" has not changed the outcome of the project, which the company says will be completed by the end of the year. The company said the disruption has created unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved.

Following is the full statement MVP released Friday afternoon:

"The ongoing disruption created by opponents has not changed the overall outcome of the project, which remains on target for a late 2018 in-service. These disruptions, however, are creating unnecessary safety risks for everyone involved, including law enforcement, security personnel, project workers, and opponents themselves."

"Tree felling carries inherent risks, and occasionally a tree may fall in an unpredictable manner. The safety of project workers, contractors and members of the community remains our top priority."

Late Friday afternoon, pipeline opponents said MVP crews had returned with federal marshals, but the tree sitter was still in place Friday evening.