For more than two decades, the Center for Coalfield Justice has been involved in the protection of Ryerson Station State Park. We commented on the initial permit for longwall mining under the park, ensured that Consol Energy was held accountable for damaging the dam and destroying Duke Lake back in 2005, and we advocated with the community to protect the park. To this day, we work toward the protection of streams within Ryerson in an effort to preserve the communal and economic opportunities in the park.
This fight has led CCJ to Harrisburg four times to meet with legislators, to talk with the governor’s staff, and to provide public comments on the status of the permit to longwall mine underneath the park. We’ve been outspoken opponents of bills like SB 624, which would cause further damage to streams in the park. The Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Governor’s staff even visited Ryerson in March and saw the impacts to our streams and park firsthand.
It has also led us to the courtroom, where we challenged the current permit issued in December - a challenge that led to an extraordinary legal victory against Consol Energy. Since this supersedeas was issued, CCJ has been the topic of various billboard ads and other elements of a smear campaign orchestrated by industry front groups, but we move forward. Why keep moving forward? Within Greene County, there are not many places to recreate, hold events, or spend time in nature - Ryerson is the one place where you can do all three. This is why we hold DRYerson: to celebrate the park, to remember the hard work we have put in, and to come together to move ahead with the future we envision for the park.
This year, the DRYerson Festival will take place on Saturday, June 24th, 2017 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. We will have live music, food, and games for kids and adults, all for free. We will also have a raffle basket table where you can buy tickets for the chance of winning an item, a registration table for long standing members to check in and new members to join us, and event t-shirts. We encourage members to bring friends, relatives, and dogs (on a leash, please). As the day goes on, we’d love to hear from you about why Ryerson is important to you and what you’d like to see happening in the park in the future: because it is a state park, it is our park, and it should reflect our community.
For those of you who would like to be more involved in the event, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer. From now until the festival, we will be seeking out and accepting donations of items for the raffle baskets, so let us know if you have something to donate. Most help, however, will be needed on the day of the event, from setting everything up to serving food to ensuring we leave behind no mess at the end. If you are interested in volunteering some time, please email our community organizer, Sarah Martik, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 724-229-3550. Regardless of whether you want to donate time or enjoy the day, be sure to join us for the DRYerson Festival. Land and water have inherent value, and we need to remember to celebrate and protect those values all the time.