Tree-sitters climb down in W.Va.

Jan. 30, 2010 at 12:56 AM
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CHARLESTON, W.Va., Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Two protesters against the mountain-top removal mining technique climbed down from their trees Friday in West Virginia after nine days, authorities said.

Amber Nitchman, 19, and Eric Blevins, 28, set a record for the ongoing protest outside Massey Energy's Bee Tree Mine in Raleigh County, the Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette reported. The pair had been living 50 to 60 feet up in pine trees since Jan. 21.

Both were arrested. A third tree-sitter, David Aaron Smith, 21, who came down Monday, faces trespassing charges along with activists who tried to keep the three supplied.

Climate Ground Zero promised to keep up the protests, which began almost a year ago.

"It's not over until the blasting is stopped," Nitchman said.

There have been 150 arrests in connection with the protest since February 2009.

Gov. Joe Manchin visited the site during the latest protest after activists complained Massey had arranged to cut down nearby trees, putting Nitchman, Blevins and Smith at risk.

"Even if we disagree, I believe we can walk away respecting each other," Manchin said. "But everyone -- including activists and property owners -- must do so within the letter of the law."

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