November 21, 2011 Crane Path Action Report
It was still dark this morning when about a dozen of us headed up the mountain by the light of our headlamps. We arrived at the new campsite at 6:15 in the early dawn light, with a sliver of moon showing, and an orange bar of light above the eastern horizon. Walking out onto the crane path is like walking onto a moonscape. Barren, grey rock fragments and twisted remnants of tree roots are all that remain of the thriving forest that stood here less than two months ago. In the face of such destruction it helps to keep busy, so we retrieved the American flag and Vermont State Flag from the tent and set them up on our site; built a fire, and re-set some of the boundary marking tape that had blown loose from thecairns. As the fire blazed up to warm us from the chilly morning breeze, construction vehicles began to grind past us, headlights bright in the dim dawn. We collected firewood, built up the fire, and watched as the huge rock moving trucks and other construction vehicles roared past us and began the day’s work. We waved to the driver in each vehicle and got a lot of waves in return. We figured that if nothing else, we had made this Monday morning more interesting than past ones for the folks who work up here. We hope they see from our presence that there is a serious problem with the project they are working on, but we don’t know, because none of them stopped to talk with us.
It wasn’t until after 8:30 that GMP security arrived, told us we were on private property, and departed to park at a nearby vantage point and monitor our actions. Several other pickup trucks were also positioned to allow their drivers to watch what we were doing.
We were surprised that our presence so close to the roadway, heavy equipment and loads of rock was not a safety concern for supervisors. It wasn’t until nearly 9:00 that the Sheriff arrived. We sang the Vermont State Song, then listened as the sheriff explained that he had to read us the injunction and then we would have to leave or be arrested. Ron pointed out that we were trespassing and asked him if he was obligated to arrest us for trespassing, and he said no, but that we would be charged with both trespassing and violating the TRO if we didn’t leave.
So we heard the injunction read to us, straining to hear over the racket of the trucks roaring by. We were escorted across the construction line, put away our flags, and departed. As we left, we could see GMP officials at our new site. The smell of burning balsam alerted us that they had torn up our trees and thrown them on the fire. Another, more toxic, but less upsetting smell, told us that our boundary tape was also burning. Chris dropped back to try to photograph the destruction, but was hustled away by the Sheriff.
So here’s the irony. GMP is confident enough of their control of this land, the courts and the government that they can blow up and irrevocably destroy this disputed land. But they are not confident enough about their ownership of the land to arrest us for standing there, ten feet from their trucks. They could not make it more clear that they have no right to be destroying this landscape than by relying on the injunction to clear us out.
In truth, based on some recent calculations, we could move sixteen feet further into the crane path (which would completely obstruct it) and still be on disputed property. Discussion is ramping up about taking action to reclaim this part of the crane path. Stay tuned. We learned a lot this morning and will be back soon.
Submitted by Fisher