Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
  Winds of Change Newsletter, March 2011     See sidebar for table of contents

Blair Mountain Legal Update National Trust Joins Re-Listing Lawsuit

In December, the National Trust for Historic Preservation joined our lawsuit seeking to have the Blair Mountain Battlefield re-listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

OVEC, the Sierra Club and the Friends of Blair Mountain filed the initial lawsuit in September 2010.

The trust agrees with our stance that the removal of Blair Mountain from the register violates federal law and endangers the historic site.

"We regret that legal action had to be taken against the National Park Service, but Blair Mountain is a key landmark of American history that demands the special protection of a National Register listing," said the trusts president, Stephanie Meeks. West Virginia Public Radio reported:

"Historians say Blair Mountain was a seminal point in the battle between coal miners and coal operators. In 1921, during an attempt to unionize the southern coalfields, miners began marching from Kanawha County. Coal companies hired men with guns to set up defenses on the mountain.

"When the two sides met, more than a hundred were killed and hundreds more were injured. Federal troops were called in to break up the battle."

In March 2009, thanks to years of organizing, Blair Mountain was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its great importance in US labor history.

But the Manchin administration quickly maneuvered to de-list the battlefield. Those maneuverings are under scrutiny in our lawsuit.

Pending mountaintop removal permits could obliterate this historic battlefield, as well as its tourism potential.

(Ed. note: Plan to participate in the March on Blair Mountain June 5 11 to mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Blair Mountain. See details on page 26.)

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