W-t-L wants a Bright Future (part 2)

In part one of this pair of stories we heard from a land-owner who may face a “taking” on his multi-generational family farm in Western Bath County. Dominion Transfer could use eminent domain to establish access to an easement for right of way. We also heard from a walker in the group, “Walking the Line into the Heart of Virginia” who is learning a lot about regular citizens working together to make sure their voices are heard.   The group’s action is to raise awareness, and to get to know the land, communities, people who would be impacted by the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Here, in Part two, Melissa Wender, one of the through hikers, planning to end up at Union Grove Church in Buckingham County, shared some of her impressions in the first two days of the journey.

“The terrain is nothing to sneeze at. You know, we were saying that it looks so easy to draw a pipeline on a map, but when you’re looking, you’re actually feeling the terrain underneath your feet of where this thing is supposed to go. What an extraordinary endeavor! Almost impossible. “

Their first day, ‘Walking the Line’ crossed Little Mountain and scrambled slowly down into Valley Center. After two more mountains, the Deerfield Valley, Hankey Mountain, Staunton, Waynesboro, and Stuart’s Draft, they’ll eventually reach Afton in the Blue Ridge.   That’s quite a few changes in elevation, and the walkers are getting to know them well.

“And in fact, Bill Limpert had us up on a ridge, and he was explaining how, if the pipeline is to be built they’re going to have to create a one-hundred and fifty foot flat space and, there is no flat space. The plan is to take off thirty feet of bedrock, dump it down the seventy percent slope on the side, to create a flat space. It’s like,

‘There was a mountain, (poof !) That doesn’t bother us. We can over come this.’

And in fact Bill said that he asked, you know, anyone he’s talked to, FERC, Dominion ‘What about landslides? What about all the potential dangers of the pipeline?’

And Dominion replied with complete confidence, ‘We can handle this; we have a plan; there is no obstacle.’

I found myself completely amused by this idea; Dominion could be my personal coach.”

Deep in the woods walkers found orange tape from one tree to the next, which stands for the center line of pipe, and blue to both sides which land owners have been told stands for the sides of the cleared flat area. Plenty of tape has worn away, or blown down. Melissa continued,

“So I found a piece, and I tied it around my wrist, so that at times when I feel like ‘How can I do this?’ I’m going to take on this crazy-to-me Dominion attitude of ‘Rockslides won’t get in my way; it’s no problem. Uncrossable terrain, I can handle it.’ I actually find myself with some hope, that despite all the technical challenges to becoming a society that uses and depends on renewable energy, ‘ cause I know there are challenges with wind, and there are challenges with solar; but if we take that mindset that Dominion is using now that says ‘We can build this pipeline even if it’s unnecessary, even if it’s difficult, even if it’s expensive, even if destroys habitat, even if it causes great unhappiness for people, even if it causes law suits.’ Well, let’s put that same attitude to ‘We’re smart; we can figure out how to harness energy from the sun, and make it work.’ There are brilliant people involved in the energy industry. Let’s just use it towards something renewable.”   Allegheny Mountain radio will be hearing from the Walkers one more time as their walk draws to a close in early July.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

Current Weather