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Seven Redwood Tree Sitters In Place As Winter Storms Begin

by Nicholas Wilson

on Julia "Butterfly" Hill
As the first major winter storms bear down on the redwood forests of Humboldt County, no fewer than seven tree-sitters braced for heavy rains and high winds.

Easily the best known of them, Julia "Butterfly" Hill went through severe El Nino storms last winter that tossed her about on her 6x8 ft. platform and put her in fear for her life. She continues to set world records for tree-sit endurance as she approaches the December 10 one-year mark.

A rally and celebration is set for noon Saturday, December 12, at the Stafford exit from Hwy. 101. She still has no immediate plans to come down until she can achieve permanent protection for the tree and its neighbors.

on death of David Chain

Near Grizzly Creek where David "Gypsy" Chain was killed has been ringed for over a month by four Earth First! tree-sits intended to protect the site from any resumption of logging that would alter potential evidence. Pacific Lumber pulled out heavy equipment about a month ago, after removing already downed logs from the site. There has been no logging since.

Coroner Frank Jager recently released lab test results showing Chain was not high on marijuana when he died. However, trace amounts in his blood indicated he had used the herb as recently as a day or as long as several weeks before he was crushed by a felled tree on September 17.

Homicide investigator Detective Juan Freeman said a month ago he had turned in a partial report to D.A. Terry Farmer. The report covers the physical evidence at the scene, including the report of an expert witness forester retained by the department to inspect the site. Not completed yet are reports on interviews with witnesses.

Freeman has been diverted from finishing the Chain investigation for the time being because he is investigating serial murder suspect Wayne Adam Ford, an Arcata long-haul trucker who confessed November 3 to killing four women across the state, and is suspected in many more unsolved killings.

Others not connected to Earth First!

Two current tree-sitters on PL land are local community members with no connection to Earth First! including Nate Madsen, 25, who spontaneously climbed an ancient giant next to Kneeland Road to protest against the company's removal of old-growth redwoods in the Freshwater Creek watershed east of Eureka. On October 13, he free-climbed a smaller tree growing from the giant's roots to reach a high limb of the old tree. The next day PL loggers cut down the smaller tree, leaving him no way down, as he had no climbing gear or rope.

Madsen said PL had cut nearly all the big redwoods in the area before he climbed one to save it, and the next day he witnessed loggers cutting most of the rest. Freshwater community members quickly rallied to provide him equipment, food, water and security -- gunshots were fired in his direction from the roadway on one of his first nights in the tree. Madsen now has a small platform in the old tree and says he intends to stay there until the tree is permanently protected.

Madsen's friend Roger Levy, 44, climbed a nearby tree October 17 after taking time off from his job. Rather than a platform, Levy has rigged a cargo net sling for himself and his gear. The two are in communication by radio and by cell phone, and both are familiar callers to local radio stations.

The Freshwater Watershed Association had filed a lawsuit against PL's logging plans last year, and got a restraining order holding up the logging for months, but PL immediately began logging after a judge lifted the order. The revocation of PL's logging license November stopped logging activity there, but Levy said in recent days he had seen private trucks with chain saws in the back using the logging road below him. He believes PL has hired a contract logging company to finish the logging.

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Albion Monitor November 26, 1998 (

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