In July, I joined activists, advocates, and property owners in Bath County to experience the pristine beauty of Miracle Ridge.
The ridgeline, named by property owners Bill and Lynn Limpert, can only be fully appreciated by visiting it in person. From the pure waterways from which the county derives its name, to the grand trees that outdate our country’s government, even one afternoon on Miracle Ridge will drive home the sheer absurdity of Dominion’s plan to blow up this ridgeline at taxpayers’ expense, just to ensure an windfall of profits in the years to come.
Here are four reasons why you need to come visit Miracle Ridge this summer:
1) Build relationships with the people that are being asked to sacrifice their land
A visit to Miracle Ridge is more than just a camp. It is a way to connect with the Limpert family and the greater Bath community. On my first official full day at the camp neighbors came from miles away to share stories on the Limperts’ north-facing front porch and talk with the media.
One couple, Jeannette and Gary, have roots extending in the community as deep as the trees themselves. They met in Bath County many years ago when Gary came to Jeanette’s house to clean her chimney. But Jeannette’s family tree extends in Bath back to 1792. Her ancestors fought for freedom and independence in the Revolutionary War. Now, she finds herself in a battle for the freedom and independence from the extractive fossil fuels industry that seeks to take the land that has been in her family for so many generations.
2) Hike Miracle Ridge
Every day upon awakening in Bath County I had the opportunity to hike Miracle Ridge. Just sixty seconds into my first hike I could see why the ridgeline is so deserving of its grand namesake. It is a nature lover’s dream.
On Saturday, Mike, Bill, Sam, Jarrod and I walked to the top of the Ridge all the way to the National Park service road. Along the way we encountered centuries-old sugar maple trees, heard the calls of numerous rare birds, and embarked on a search for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee. This bumble bee is officially listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), with climate change and increased exposure to disease has caused the bee’s population to plummet by 90% since 1990. There have been a number of Rusty Patched Bee sightings on Miracle Ridge, which if proven could prove tremendous in the fight against the ACP.
Experiencing this in person is a glaring reaffirmation that Dominion’s plan to blow Miracle Ridge by the equivalent of a two-story building is nothing short of radical and extreme.
3) Swim in some of Virginia’s most pristine water
Just down the mountain from Miracle Ridge are a number of the fresh mineral water springs from which the Bath County has received its namesake. Renowned for its healing properties, the pristine water attracts travelers and tourists from all over the continent every year.
The pure nature of the water is due to the high concentration of Karst – one of mother nature’s most powerful water filtration systems. This geological typography is characterized by a network of caves, fissures, sinkholes, and underground streams and is prone to sinking.
Many experts point to constructing the proposed pipeline of cause as a reason for alarm, as industrial-scale construction and ridgetop removal could potentially have irreversible negative impacts on the local waterways.
4) Make connections with other like-minded activists
Activists and advocates from all across the region are coming to Miracle Ridge to make a stand.
Saturday afternoon our group was joined by two activists: Holden and Gabriella who organize against the ACP in North Carolina and heard about the encampment on Facebook. Over dinner that evening we shared strategies of what was working in each of our states and reaffirmed our commitment to defending Miracle Ridge and all lands threatened by pipelines until the very end.
5) Meet Ona for herself
One of the most humbling experiences about a visit to Miracle Ridge is an opportunity to meet with Ona, the 300-plus-year-old sugar maple that has been likened to a piece of art and is making waves all across the region.
“Ona,” an ancient Hebrew name meaning “graceful,” could not have a more appropriate from one of the most visually striking features on Miracle Ridge. Standing at a jaw-dropping 60-feet with a 15-foot circumference, you can feel Ona’s magnetic presence as soon as you stand up to her. This tree, which outdates Dominion and the fossil fuels industry itself is now being threatened to be cut down to make way for a violent pipeline that will lock us into fossil fuels extraction for another generation. One trip to Miracle Ridge will reaffirm everything that we are being asked to sacrifice for Dominion’s profits and will reaffirm why we will need to continue to fight even harder in the weeks and months to come.