Walking the Line starts in Bath

By the time this story airs, a committed group of hikers will have moved on into the Deerfield Valley of Augusta County. They are “Walking the Line into the Heart of Virginia”. Their plan is to cover at least one hundred fifty miles of the proposed route of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, and learn all along the way about how land and communities would be impacted. They began with a core group of around ten, and invite everyone who is interested to please join in for day hikes or overnights whenever possible. Just as the Walkers were hitting the trail on Saturday, with Shawna Bratton as guide, I asked her father Bill Bratton, whose land we were on, if he thought the kick-off was exciting.

“Well, the walk is exciting. The pipeline is not exciting. That’s what everybody who’s here today is walking in protest of this pipeline. And this pipeline is coming through our farm for about a mile and two tenths, which my land is very cherishable to me. I love land, and that’s the reason, I’ve acquired it over the years, and I do not want to partner in it with Dominion. I want to it keep to myself and my family. I have two children I want to pass it on to, and two grandkids, so that’s what’s very important to me. I want to keep it for them, and I’m not interested in sharing it with a pipeline.”

On the same day, I talked to one of the walkers who came from much further away.

“My name is Lawrence Piteroque. I’m a Canadian photographer, and I found myself here in Bath because a friend of mine, who knew that I was doing a road trip across the Untied States, looking at Civic engagement in the country, and messaged me about the event “Defend the Sacred” that happened in Roanoke last weekend.”

There Lawrence met Lee White, one of the coordinators of Walking the Line. She decided that at least a day of this long hike would be another good opportunity to learn more about how regular citizens work to have their voices heard. Lee, who researched the closest route possible for walking through five counties where some landowners were receptive, and others were not, encouraged Lawrence to join in.

Had you heard of the ACP and the MVP before?

“I was aware that there were different pipelines slated to go through different areas of the United States, that Dakota Pipeline was not the only one, but I didn’t know specific routes, and I didn’t know the type of oppositions they were meeting.”

“Is there anything so far that’s given you any, pretty good indication of how significant the opposition is?”

“Well, I did do the Seeds of Resistance Tour, so that took me to Giles County. It took me to Somers County in West Virginia, as well as Bent Mountain. So I did see the diversity of who opposes it, the kind of diversity of the type of landowners that are opposing it. And I thought that was very interesting because you can’t say that it’s only environmentalists, or it’s only landowners; it’s kind of this odd alliance of people that may not agree on other issues, but on this one they seem to agree.”

So, on that Saturday I joined in too, walking slowly up the western side of Little Mountain, and then side-stepping or sliding on our tails down into Little Valley to the east.   Melissa Wender, one of the through travellers continues in the second piece of this pair of stories with more about the proposed route. “The terrain is nothing to sneeze at. You know, we were saying 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, of where this thing is proposed to go, what an extraordinary endeavor!”

For more, Please stay tuned to AMR.

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.

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