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Tree sitting is a form of environmentalist civil disobedience in which a protester sits in a tree, usually on a small platform built for the purpose, to protect it from being cut down (speculating that loggers will not endanger human lives by cutting an occupied tree). Supporters usually provide the tree sitters with food and other necessary supplies.
Tree sitters have successfully prevented logging of ancient old growth forests for months at a time, and in some instances have convinced logging companies not to cut trees in some areas. Sometimes, tree sitting is used as a long-term resistance strategy, with activists occupying trees for months or years at a time. On the other hand, tree sitting is often used as a stalling tactic, to prevent the cutting of trees while lawyers fight in the courts to secure the long-term victories.
When tree sitting occurs on private land, it is trespassing. Sometimes logging companies will hire tree climbers to remove trespassers sitting in trees. Although it is the companies' legal right to do so, some treesitters[who?] are suing Pacific Lumber to challenge this practice. Most tree sitting in California occurs on private land. In Oregon, where there are more logging projects on public land (National Forests and BLM lands), treesitting is usually not trespassing but treesitters can be fined for violating closure orders or camping limits, or for erecting illegal structures.
Tree-sitters in trees claimed by Pacific Lumber in Humboldt County have been subject to forced removal by hired tree-sit extractors. The practice started with a single extractor in the late 90â€™s but in 2003 Pacific Lumber hired teams of climbers to remove dozens of tree-sitters, particularly in the Freshwater area East of Eureka, California.
The extractors are not actually deputized but police often show up to assist extractors and arrest tree-sitters. On March 17, 2003, more than 30 police arrived and enforced an illegal road closure of a public road to assist in the removal of two long-time tree-sitters from old-growth redwoods.
Most of the extractions in Northern California are done under the leadership of Eric Schatz of Schatz Tree Service, a well known professional arborist. Schatz testified in court that he has removed 42 tree-sitters from trees.
Some of the more notable tree sittings include:
A tree village is an extension of the tree sit/tree house protest, involving several more tree houses.
The Fall Creek/Red Cloud Thunder Tree-Village was a long running example. It was a 6-year occupation of a small timber sale in the Willamette National Forest at Fall Creek Oregon US which ran from February 1998 to November 2003. It comprised seven houses of up to 5 occupants each tied together with rope 'traverses' 200 feet (61 m) high and up to 125 feet (38 m) between 'platforms'. This tree village was designed to be totally self sufficient with composting toilets, solar/wind power, communications, cargo lines between ground and other sits, individual rappel lines and hydroponic sprout farms. An estimated 1000 activists occupied the trees at various times. The forest occupied during the Fall Creek campaign remains uncut to this day.
Winberry Tree Village in the Willamette National Forest was another long-term occupation undertaken by Cascadian tree-sitters. The village consisted of two treehouses (160 feet high and 175 feet (53 m) high) and one suspension structure hung between trees. The Winberry village was occupied for 5 years. One tree house was two story, situated in a huge Western Red-Cedar tree. It featured a bottom story built from branches in the manner of a bird's nest as well as a running water system.
The Nanning Creek treesit ("Bonanza") is centered around Spooner, a 290-foot (88 m) Redwood with a near 40-foot (12 m) circumference, one of the oldest unprotected trees remaining in the area. This is also a village setup. Nanning Creek is located in the hills overlooking the town of Scotia, America's last company-owned town and the site of Pacific Lumber's headquarters. The area was long protected as a Marbled Murrelet nesting habitat, but recent changes in environmental law keep loggers out only for the nesting season.
"Fern Gully" is located south of Arcata, California, and north of the Nanning Creek sit. It is one of the few remaining tracts of old-growth in the Freshwater area. Fern Gully was started as a "Pirate" sit, unconnected at first from any organizations such as Earth First!. By 2005, it had 22 trees tied together for transarboreal travel. The village was equipped with a raincatch system that transported water 40 feet (12 m) down to a running tap at the platform, as well as a solar panel at 207 feet (63 m) in a tree named Watsi. Around that time it was raided by Pacific Lumber contracted climbers. They did not extract a single person, instead cutting out unoccupied traverses, platforms and dreamcatchers. This was a major blow to the village, but the sit continues, and the area remains uncut.
"Upper Village" was a set of 3 redwoods, Jerry, Everstine/Diversity (a double trunk tree) and Anastasia. Jerry was one of Humboldt County's most famous redwoods. A woman named Jeny Card (aka "Remedy") stayed without touching ground for 361 days, and later a young man named Willow did the same for over 18 months. Amy Gershman (aka "Wren") stayed in Everstine for almost ten months, and was later extracted, arrested, and jailed. She was later released on bail and her case ended in a hung jury. Upper Village appeared on Da Ali G Show, and Willow was interviewed from the platform of Jerry by Tom Greene, who was doing a segment for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. No other tree has the extraction history of Jerry. Activists were forcibly removed from the tree on three separate occasions between March 17, 2003 and June 17, 2003. Each time, the tree-sit platforms were destroyed by climbers, but immediately replaced by activists. The Timber Harvest Plan for Upper Village expired in 2005, and friends of the trees removed the platforms and traverses. These trees are located directly alongside Greenwood Heights road in Freshwater, California.
The "Ludlow" tree village consisted of three basic sits, one large traditional Western Australian sit and two new sits that were two levels and three levels consecutively; each allowed the sitter a separate area for sleeping and relaxing and one for storage, cooking and other activities; one featured a "sun-deck" for outdoor living. The Ludlow Tuart Forest was targeted, by the Cable Sands mineral sands mining company, for Titanium Dioxide, for products such as white paint and toothpaste to fortify the coating of depleted Uranium weapons. One person remained in one of the sits for 29 days, without leaving the tree once. The sits were removed but the concept has been used several times since.
Current EF! tree sits in California (Spring 2010): A tree village is ongoing in the Ryan Creek watershed next to Eureka, California. These tree-sits are defending a large area of Redwoods with a crew of people. More trees are being added to the rope networks all the time. This is to resist clear-cutting and development plans by the Green Diamond Resource Company. The Earth First! Humboldt collective is organizing a campaign to expose and obstruct Green Diamonds destructive logging of the Redwood forest. The company owns around 430,000 acres (1,700 km2) of Redwoods in Humboldt and Del Norte counties making them the biggest single landowner of Redwood forest. EF! Humboldt website
In the United Kingdom permanent tree houses are common. One treehouse, BattleStar Galactica at the Manchester International Airport, held 12 people. Permanent tree-houses can be occupied for a year or more. They often have lock-on points for protesters to chain themselves to during evictions. Tree houses have also been used at Newbury bypass.
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