For Immediate Release:
November 29, 2012
Sean Sarah, Sierra Club, Sean.Sarah@sierraclub.org, 202 548-4589
Regina Hendrix, West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, firstname.lastname@example.org, 304 725-0223
Cindy Rank, WV Highlands Conservancy, email@example.com, 304-924-5802
Dianne Bady, Ohio Valley
Environmental Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org, 304 360-2072
Mari-Lynn Evans, Friends of Blair
Mountain, MLEvansESP@aol.com, 330
Gordon Simmons, West Virginia Labor
History Association, email@example.com, 304 395-6294
Rebecca Morgan, National Trust for Historic Preservation, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202
Threats to Blair Mountain Historic Site Prompt Legal
Groups Continue Fight to Keep West
Virginia Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places
Logan County, WV – A coalition of historic preservation, labor history and
environmental protection organizations filed an appeal today in a renewed
effort to restore West Virginia's Blair Mountain Battlefield to the National
Register of Historic Places.
challenges an October 2, 2012 ruling in a U.S. District court that declined to
address these organizations' claims that Blair Mountain was unlawfully removed
from the National Register of Historic Places. The groups contend that the
National Park Service's December 2009 decision to de-list Blair Mountain –
which was, in 1921, the site of the largest insurrection in the United States
since the Civil War, as coal miners clashed with law enforcement over the right
to unionize – was arbitrary, capricious and contrary to the National Park
Service's own guidelines.
In October, the
court concluded that the groups lacked legal standing to challenge the National
Register de-listing because there was insufficient proof of an imminent threat
of coal mining at the site. This decision ignored abundant evidence that coal
mining companies continue to seek permits to mine the battlefield and continue
to block efforts to list Blair Mountain on the National Register.
“With the exception of the Civil War, the Blair battle is the
largest insurrection in U.S. history,” said Regina Hendrix of the West Virginia
Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We cannot let this rich, undisturbed, site be
wiped away forever. The area is a vital part of U.S. labor history. The
archaeological record waiting to be explored will clearly show the places where
the battle occurred, as well as the intensity of the battle at different sites.
The archaeological record has lain dormant for 90 years along the Spruce Fork
Ridge from Blair Mountain to Mill Creek and it cries out for our protection.”
Mountain stands as a center-piece of American labor history and West Virginia
culture," said Kenny King, a lifelong resident of Blair and member of the
Board of Friends of Blair Mountain. "The courageous resistance of ten
thousand striking coal miners in 1921 was an outcry for basic human rights.
Blair Mountain must not fall to the insatiable greed of the coal industry but
rather stand as a monument that honors the gains for which those miners
sacrificed their lives and livelihoods. Never before, nor since have so
many American workers taken up arms to fight for their constitutional rights.
Blair Mountain, West Virginia stands not only as a reminder of our proud
history, but also as a living symbol of hope for all who seek justice."
“I've lived in Blair for over 50
years, it is my home and the mountain is my back yard,” said longtime resident
of Blair West Virginia, Carlos Gore. “For our sake, and the sake of our
history, the battlefield needs to be preserved so that future generations can
understand what happened here and why it's so important to be remembered.
“This ruling creates a no-win
situation for preservationists and environmentalists fighting to protect the
Blair Mountain battlefield and America's labor history,” explained David Brown,
executive vice president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“Unless this decision is reversed, we would be prevented from taking action to protect
this significant place until after coal mining has already begun, at which time
irreparable damage would no longer be avoidable.”
“Blair Mountain is an important part
of my family's history, “said Julian Martin of the West Virginia Highlands
Conservancy. “My grandfather and great uncle fought at Blair Mountain in 1921
on the side of the United Mine Workers of America. It would be a huge loss for
Blair Mountain to be unprotected from mountain top removal strip mining.”
Background: The battle for Blair Mountain is a central event in labor
history in the United States and certainly one of the best known of the many
labor struggles in West Virginia. The actual site of the battle is a key part
of our history and should be preserved for our children's children to visit and
explore. After many nominations and revisions the site was finally listed on
the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, only to be de-listed nine
months later in a move that the coalition believes was unlawful. Since Federal
coal mining laws provide strong protection for sites actually listed on the
National Register, removing Blair Mountain from the Register puts the future of
this important place at risk.
Groups involved in
this appeal are the Sierra Club, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition,
Friends of Blair Mountain, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the West
Virginia Labor History Association and the National Trust for Historic
information on Blair Mountain please visit: