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Trees on Chopping Block for Natural Gas Pipeline

NEW MILFORD TOWNSHIP — A family’s maple syrup operation is in jeopardy in Susquehanna County. Megan Holleran surveyed her family’s sugar bush,...

NEW MILFORD TOWNSHIP -- A family's maple syrup operation is in jeopardy in Susquehanna County.

Megan Holleran surveyed her family's sugar bush, a group of maple trees tied to a syrup operation near New Milford and in jeopardy of being chopped down.

"It started as a hobby but turned into a business," said Holleran.

Holleran's family is taking a stand after a federal judge ruled under eminent domain, the planned Constitution Pipeline can cut through their property, cutting down the maple trees already producing sap.

"It’s syrup season, for this time of year we’re producing a remarkable amount. If they cut our trees we can’t do that this year," she added.

The pipeline would cut through part of the Holleran's field and right through the maple trees. Neighbors have joined the family in taking a stand.

"It all comes down to a federal judge. A federal judge is going to say what a federal judge’s going to say. That’s going to be it and the people don’t have a say," said Jeff Zick of Hop Bottom.

The 125-mile Constitution Pipeline is supposed to connect natural gas wells in this part of Susquehanna County with another larger pipeline that will deliver the natural gas to both New England and New York City.

"The feeling is this is ours, it is. We haven’t ever given permission for anyone else to be out here. We haven’t signed anything. We haven’t received any compensation for eminent domain. This is ours," added Holleran.

A spokesperson for Williams, the company installing the pipeline, said the Hollerans will be reimbursed and environmental issues prevent an alternative route around the family's maple trees.

"It would have required multiple crossings of the Bluestone Pipeline and a recently installed 14 inch water line (which creates technical construction issues). It would have also shifted impacts to additional landowners not affected by the project," said Christopher Stockton with Williams. "Also, the abutting parcel where they asked the line to be moved to is an active quarry."

Still the family is set on fighting somewhat of a Goliath in this case.

"It’s a little harder to feel like David when we have as many people coming out to support us as we do here," said Holleran.

The feds gave the pipeline company until the end of March to clear the trees before the work can begin.

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