"It should be our No. 1 tourist attraction in the whole state. It should be developed, not destroyed."
The district court's October ruling stated that the groups opposing the Blair Mountain mining permit lacked "legal standing" to challenge removing the site from the National Register because there was insufficient proof of an imminent threat of coal mining at the site.
"This decision ignored abundant evidence that coal mining companies continue to seek permits to mine the battlefield and continue to block efforts to list Blair Mountain on the National Register," according to a statement released on Thursday by the six groups filing the appeal.
Regina Hendrix, from the Sierra Club's West Virginia chapter, said Blair Mountain "is a vital part of U.S. labor history. The archaeological record waiting to be explored will clearly show the places where the battle occurred, as well as the intensity of the battle at different sites.
"The archaeological record has lain dormant for 90 years along the Spruce Fork Ridge from Blair Mountain to Mill Creek and it cries out for our protection."
Kenny King, a leader of Friends of Blair Mountain, has lived in the town of Blair his whole life.
"Blair Mountain must not fall to the insatiable greed of the coal industry, but rather stand as a monument that honors the gains for which those miners sacrificed their lives and livelihoods. Never before, nor since, have so many American workers taken up arms to fight for their constitutional rights," King said.
Julian Martin, of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, said, "Blair Mountain is an important part of my family's history. My grandfather and great uncle fought at Blair Mountain in 1921 on the side of the United Mine Workers of America. It would be a huge loss for Blair Mountain to be unprotected from mountaintop removal strip mining."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.