Community Comes Together to Fight for Streams in Ryerson Station State Park

The 11th Annual DRYerson Festival was a huge success. Over 60 people came together to celebrate Ryerson Station State Park and took action to protect our streams in and around the park.

We celebrated with good food and awesome music from the talented Steve Ventura, who also plays in the band Mon Valley Push. . Our community organizer, Sarah Martik, made sure folks knew what was going on, talked with people about CCJ’s work, and even sang “Brighter Than the Sun” by Colbie Caillat with Steve Our staff attorney, Sarah Winner, answered questions about the pending litigation. Veronica Coptis, our Executive Director, delivered the following comments to the community:

Being here at Ryerson with all of you is so powerful to me. It is impossible to put into words the influence these majestic hills and forests have had on me. I grew up here as I’m sure so did many of you. Most major memories in my life have something that ties back to the park, our streams, and what used to be our lake. That is why it means the world to me and the Center for Coalfield Justice that you took time today to make it clear that our community will fight back against the many attacks on our park right now.

 Over the decade we have built public pressure and held Consol accountable to the law, and we have been winning. This past winter, when Governor Tom Wolf sided with Consol and issued yet another permit despite the fact that it was predicted our streams would be dewatered, we stood up and said no. Our amazing attorney, Sarah Winner, quickly filed an appeal and a supersedeas, which means asking the judge to halt operations while the legal case proceeds because the stream would suffer damage that could be permanent. Mike Becher and Susan Waldie from Appalachian Mountain Advocates joined our legal team shortly before the hearing in January. We WON because of the hard work of our legal team and the support from all of you. We are still waiting for the final decision from the Environmental Hearing Board judges, but make sure to sign in so you don’t miss any updates.

 As they’ve made clear, taking our lake, taking our streams, is not enough for Consol. They have applied for more permits to mine under more streams in the park. We need your help to show the Department of Environmental Protection and Governor Wolf that this time they should be on the right side, with the community, and deny these permits.

 Because we are winning, the coal industry is pushing back. They are lobbying for Senate Bill 624, which attempts to exempt the longwall coal mining industry from the Clean Streams Law. SB 624 was passed in the Senate along party lines and is in the House of Representatives. It is crucial today that we send a clear message to Governor Tom Wolf that it is time he stand with environmental justice communities and not coal companies. We need the Governor to veto this unconstitutional legislation, and we encourage all of you to record a video message that I will be delivering to his staff in person on Monday in Harrisburg. Our volunteer, Eva, will be recording your messages over by the canoe, so stop over to see her before you leave today.

I am honored to serve you all and make our concerns heard in Harrisburg but I can’t do it alone. The fight to protect this park is going to be a long one, but together I know that I will be sitting by the iron bridge one day teaching my daughter how to fish like my dad did with me.

 At the same time that we are working so diligently to protect the park from more harm, the Ryerson Task Force is working hard to rebuild a place where memories can be made again. The design work for the new pool almost completed and feasibility studies are being done for restoring the stream in through the dry lake bed. But all of the money that has been set aside for restoring Ryerson will be wasted if we don’t have any water left in the park. So, if you haven’t already today, take action by recording a video, signing up to receive emails from us so you can sign petitions, and just talking to your neighbors about what we want for our towns.

Over fifteen people recorded video messages to Governor Tom Wolf about what Ryerson Station State Park means to them and why protecting the park is so important. There can be no doubt that  people are dedicated to the fight for Ryerson are going do what it takes to protect it.  

 We ended the day with water balloons. Check out more pictures from the event on our facebook page

Thank you to everyone that supported and attended this year’s DRYerson Festival!