18 Jul 19
While there is an ongoing fight at Rainbow Ridge over a stand of Douglas firs, a similar situation played out in Stafford 21 years ago this week as Julia “Butterfly” Hill fought for an old-growth redwood tree.
An article in the July 16, 1998, edition of the Times-Standard, reported Hill offered Pacific Lumber Co. terms for her to come down from “Luna,” the old-growth redwood she had been living in for roughly seven months.
As part of the six-page document, she said she would come down from the tree if Luna and the area around the tree was protected.
But Pacific Lumber was not open to negotiations.
“As far as Miss Hill making demands, she’s trespassing on private property,” said Pacific Lumper president and CEO John Campbell. “Our key points are that she’s breaking the law. She’s free to go and we’ve ceased (logging in the area) months ago.”
Hill was in for the long-haul. She vowed to not let her feet “touch the ground” until Luna was protected.
Julia “Butterfly” Hill stands near the top of Luna, the old-growth Redwood she lived in for more than two years. (Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard file)
“My stance hasn’t changed,” the 1998 article reported Hill saying. “What has changed is that my support has continued to grow.”
She remained up in the tree for more than two years before coming down in December 1999.
While the current and past tree-sitting efforts are similar, the 1998 article noted Hill was allowed visits from friends who helped her restock supplies.
“Her friends are free to come and go at any time,” Campbell said in the article.
The same can’t be said for Rook, a tree-sitter who has been living in a tree in the Mattole watershed since the beginning of June. Facebook posts in the Save the Mattole’s Ancient Forest page suggest her experience differs from what Hill endured two decades ago.
“For 6 days now, Rook has not received any food or water,” a post from Tuesday stated. “Security guards also took their tarps and last night and morning there was substantial fog and rain. Rook is soaked through.”
The other big difference is the presence of Lear Asset Management, a security contractor hired by Humboldt Redwood Co. — the new name Pacific Lumber Co. took in 2008.
Lear personnel are accused of preventing restocking of supplies to the tree-sitter as well as harassment by playing loud music.
“There have been no attempts to remove the tree-sitter at all,” John Andersen, Humboldt Redwood Co.’s director of forest policy, told the Times-Standard last month. “That would be considered unsafe in our book.”
One environmental group contends Lear’s work is not promoting safety.
Karen Prickett, of the Bay Area Coalition for Headwaters, said the security team member who went up to cut down Rook’s supplies was masked and aggressive toward the sitter.
“He went up above the sitter, and cut down supplies, which dropped past the tree-sitter,” Pickett said. “Some of the supplies coming down through the air past the sitter were heavy objects, like 6-gallon water jugs.”
Ruth Schneider can be reached at 707-441-0520.
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