Court Halts Pipeline Tree Cutting, Requires Full Review on Historic VA Property

More good news for The Wilderness, a 1,000-acre historic farm threatened by the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline. This morning a unanimous judicial panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated a lower court’s injunction that would have allowed ACP to begin cutting trees on the property immediately. Appalachian Mountain Advocates represents The Wilderness in this action.

Today’s order will prevent tree cutting on the property until the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fully completes the required state and federal historical review process. This review is necessary because The Wilderness is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. It has been deemed by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to be a “Virginia Treasure.”

Late last week, the Fourth Circuit stayed the earlier order, providing temporary relief until the court could fully consider the issue. Appalachian Mountain Advocates attorneys and the ACP’s attorneys presented oral arguments on the issue before the judicial panel Tuesday afternoon.

The Wilderness is a farm that has been in continuous cultivation since approximately 1750 following a land grant from King George II. Cattle raised on the farm were sent to feed soldiers during the French & Indian War. The home on the property was built by Revolutionary War General Samuel Blackburn and his wife Anne in 1797. An underground spring has provided water to the house since the early 1800s. The property contains forests that have never been timbered.

The farm is now owned by the Koontz family, who has consistently resisted the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s efforts to obtain an easement to cross through the center of the property.

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