Tuesday, April 07, 2009

West Virginia officals ask National Register to drop Blair Mountain, citing property owners' objections

One week after Blair Mountain was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, state officials have asked that the West Virginia site be taken back off the list, citing uncounted objections from area property owners. The 1921 battle waged on the mountain was the largest armed conflict over labor issues in U.S. history.

"Efforts to preserve Blair Mountain date back to the early 1990s, when [United Mine Workers] officials and environmentalists teamed up to fight strip-mining proposed by non-union Massey Energy," writes Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette. "Three years ago, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Blair Mountain as one of America's 11 most endangered historic sites."

An area cannot be listed on the register if a majority of property owners object. Originally, state officials counted 22 objections out of 50 property owners , but now say that 30 objections were actually filed. (Read more)

UPDATE, April 9: Scott Finn of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports state officials say they "missed several letters from objecting landowners. Those letters from objectors reveal a coordinated campaign by landowning and coal companies to gather signatures of property holders to oppose the nomination. Most are filled out as a form letter, simply stating that they are landowners and they object to the listing, and nothing else. Many are signed on the same date, and many have the same witness or notary public co-signing the document." (Read more)

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