|Julia "Butterfly" Hill, a redwood activist with the Circle of Life
Foundation, took her stand 180 feet off the ground in a 1,000-year-old
redwood in the Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County, Calif to protest the
logging of old-growth forests, of which only about 3% have survived the
chainsaw in California. From Dec. 10, 1997, to Dec. 18, 1999, she
lived on an 8-by-8-foot plywood platform, protected only by a tarp from
the wind and rain. Twenty-three years old at the time of her
climb, the activist hauled food and water by rope up to her perch. She
communicated by solar-powered cell phone with supporters and media during
her tree occupation, the longest on record in American history.
Julia defends her trespassing on Pacific Lumber lands by saying that the company forfeited its right to its property because its actions affect other peoples' lives. PL has been cited with over 250 violations of the California Forest Practices act. She cited the Stafford mudslide as an example of their irresponsibility. Seven families' homes were destroyed when this mudslide issued forth below a PL clearcut on January 1, 1998.
Ms. Hill came down only after reaching a settlement with the Pacific Lumber Company and owner Charles Hurwitz' Maxxam Corporation, which owns the land on which the redwood lives. By the terms of the agreement she must pay $50,000 to Pacific Lumber to compensate them for lost revenues as a result of her protest. But, on the plus side, they have agreed to spare her 200-foot-tall tree, which she calls "Luna," and a 200-foot zone around it.
Though she may have lost money on the deal, Ms. Hill came out on top in the bigger picture of forest protection. Her protest focused worldwide attention on the issue of old-growth timber logging, and probably helped encourage Pacific Lumber and state and federal governments last spring to reach their agreement which protects nearly 5,000 acres of California redwoods in a public preserve. Julia continues to fight for heightened environmental awareness.