Raven Rocks thanks Murray

Special to the Times Leader

MEMBERS OF the Raven Rocks community have presented Robert E. Murray, owner of the American Energy Corp., with a thank-you gift in appreciation of his efforts to preserve the rock formations located on the Raven Rocks property.

Several members of the community met with Murray at the Century Mine Thursday to present a picture collage made with photographs of the rock formations.

A second larger picture was given to Murray with the following inscription: "Thank you, Robert E. Murray for the exercise of will and heart that has let you choose to avoid the risk of damage, and thus to play your crucial role in assuring the long-term stability and beauty of The Raven Rock and its five sister ravines at Raven Rocks. It is not as owner-possessors of these gems of creation that we speak but rather as persons responsible for their care, a responsibility that we wear as a gift, and a blessing."

The inscription continues, "And so, the message of this occasion has broad, deep and lasting roots. For it flows not alone from ourselves or others who are present with us in these times but also from countless generations past, and countless generations yet to come."

Murray recently announced that coal will not be extracted by any means underneath a majority of the rock formations or the unique man-made structures located on the Raven Rocks property. The area is located within the permit boundaries of the new Century longwall mine.

"It's no small thing," noted Murray about the task of avoiding Raven Rocks.

"We're leaving coal in here worth $100 million," he said while pointing out the community on a map of the mine.

The Raven Rocks community has been described by officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources as, "a renewable energy technology, environmental education and ecological preservation laboratory."

Structures present on the property such as concrete underground homes, windmills, geothermal wells and photovoltaic towers have raised unique questions of longwall mining and subsidence since very early in the mine's permitting process.

Murray explained that subsiding the underground structures would not be worth the risk. He also commented on the unique way in which members of the Raven Rocks community have dealt with the situation.

"Your approach to us was different," said Murray. Individuals who wish to halt mining under areas of land often lead off such an effort with a lawyer, he observed. According to Murray, the members of the Raven Rocks community came to him acknowledging his coal rights and asked if he would consider protecting their lifetime of work.
Warren Stetzel, a founding member of the community, noted that he and others in the community have enjoyed the time spent with mining officials hiking through the valleys and ravines of Raven Rocks and looking at what's been accomplished there over the past 30 years.

He also said, "We have been up front with our mining friends, with our long-standing judgment that the years of such widespread resort to the burning of fossil fuels to power our needs, our desires, and our advances, are numbered."

The Raven Rocks community reevaluated its energy habits shortly after its inception. The community was formed out of the desire to protect the original portion of the Raven Rocks property from strip mining. According to Stetzel, the community realized it did not feel comfortable or right in the noble enterprise of saving Raven Rocks, if, having refused access to the coal underneath it, they persisted in the careless consumption of energy that
would necessitate the mining of other land. Over the years, this has lead to a number of experiments in alternative energy technologies that produce power by totally benign means.

Stetzel indicated that there is also much more ahead.


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