Central Virginia Blue Ridge
By Tommy Stafford
Millions of people have come to the Blue Ridge Mountains over the years to get away. They rest in the beauty and peacefulness of the lush covered peaks in the summer and the stunning snow covered valleys and mountaintops in the winter. Many of us have even been fortunate to make our permanent homes here. I laughingly tell my wife, “A trip to the dump here is beautiful.”
For decades that beauty has been preserved. Even the most unreasonable of politicians knew it was something special. Something worth saving. A do not touch zone reserved for quite, nature and reflection. Then came the idea for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. A highly questionable very controversial natural gas pipeline that would cut through the very heart of the Central Virginia Blue Ridge. As a matter of fact the construction would go under the Blue Ridge Parkway near the entrance to Wintergreen Resort and exactly where the treasured Appalachian Trail intersects. On either side of the parkway a huge pipeline would crawl up and down the mountainsides through some of the most steep and rural, yet pristine views on the East Coast. A place where thousands of hikers a year leave the cubical, the concrete, and the noise to be at peace, if only for a few months while they take the historic journey along the trail.
There are few quiet places left in this life where people can go and be with nature. The Blue Ridge Mountains is one of them. Aside from the potential destruction to that beauty, countless family farms and homeowners will be severely impacted. Some of the land has been handed down for hundreds of years from other generations. Today, if the ACP and it’s majority partner, Dominion, get their way, the pipeline will cut right through their properties. They will be forced to live with a massive gas pipeline running through their land. In some cases right by their homes. In exchange their land becomes devalued, they continue to pay taxes on property they will likely never be able to sell. And, they get paid pennies on the dollar to run the pipeline through.
The case has been appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court. Ultimately they decide if the pipeline can cross the AT. There’s a reason it hasn’t happened here before, to allow it would be unprecedented. It would allow a private company to exercise eminent domain to shove the pipeline down the throats of everyone living and visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains and the AT.
Let’s hope the justices on the U.S. Supreme Court let their true conscience be their guide. Preserve the land for their children and generations to come. Rather than a grandchild standing on the AT one day telling stories of their grandparents about a time before the pipeline happened.