CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A coalition of historic preservation, labor history and environmental protection groups filed a legal appeal Thursday morning, continuing their fight to restore the Blair Mountain Battlefield to the National Register of Historic Places.
The groups include: the Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Friends of Blair Mountain, West Virginia Labor History Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Arch Coal Co., based in St. Louis, Mo., has filed a permit application to begin strip mining nearly 400 acres of land on Adkins Branch, located on the Blair Mountain Battlefield, along the border between Boone and Logan counties.
Mary-Lynn Evans, a spokeswoman for Friends of Blair Mountain, said the groups are appealing a decision by the U.S. District Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., that denied their efforts to put the battlefield back on the National Register.
Thursday's appeal will move the case up to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Evans said.
The U.S. District Court's Oct. 2 ruling refused to consider arguments by the six groups that Blair Mountain was unlawfully removed from the National Register. The decision to remove Blair Mountain from the list was made by the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
More than 90 years ago -- between Aug. 25 and Sept. 2, 1921 -- more than 10,000 union coal miners fought with armed coal company guards along Blair Mountain Ridge. It ended after federal troops intervened.
The National Park Service added Blair Mountain to its National Register of Historic Places in March 2009. Nine months later, in December, the NPS reversed its decision after a dispute arose about who owns the properties on Blair Mountain.
Gordon Simmons, president of the West Virginia Labor History Association, said Thursday, "We were party to the earlier suit and our association is part of the appeal.
"The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the most important events in labor history anywhere, and it took place in West Virginia. It seems so wrongheaded to bury that event.