Monday, January 28, 2013

Willits Bypass Protest 1-28-13

"Warbler," a young female tree sitter, setting up camp in an old Ponderosa Pine, scheduled to be destroyed.
 I called in sick to work today because my friend Kate informed me, as well as several others, that Caltrans was planning to begin the first stages of construction on the Willits bypass this morning. It seems to have caught many people off guard. Caltrans was planning to "top" several large, wild oak trees in the Little Lake Valley. Basically they were going to cut the trees down to about four feet, preventing migratory birds from the North that will be nesting in them soon. If the birds arrive and nest, construction can not begin. This has been an issue that has been going on for two decades now according to one woman I talked to.
Caltrans vehicle returning from Little Lake Valley
"Warbler" unfurling a banner that says "STOP CALTRANS BYPASS"
  Like all things, it's a touchy issue. Traffic in the town of Willits has been increasing over the years. Practically speaking, a bypass would ultimately lessen traffic congestion, although even that seems to be debatable. Environmentally speaking, construction of the bypass would be devastating to the local wetland ecosystem, where the construction will take place. Furthermore, areas to the north would also be under threat, including Richardson Grove Redwood Park. The plan is to eventually make the 101 another major travel route, akin to the I-5, where goods can be trucked up and down the coast. All fine and dandy, but as always, nonhuman life forms lose.

 What is the price of "progress?" When is enough, enough? Why do we feel the need to pave over every last inch of wild America? What about the voiceless?
We were not permitted past this sign under threat of arrest for trespassing
I was truly inspired when I arrived and saw a young and courageous woman named "Warbler," setting up camp at the top of a 75 to 100 foot Ponderosa Pine.
From what I understand, she plans on staying there for as long as it takes. Of course, I'd imagine construction will probably devastate the surrounding area, and she will have to bear witness to it from the top of the tree.
Standing under "Warbler's" Ponderosa Pine
I hope to take a tour of the actual construction area in the next couple of weeks. Those who have taken the tour have said how moved they were, saddened by what may take place, certain that many of the locals just haven't really made it a reality in regards to what they will be losing.
Warm sun burning off the morning fog. "Warbler setting up camp."
 There were probably about 60 of us who made it out for the first day's protest. Personally, I think thousands should show up if they can. Having grown up in the concrete jungle of the East, it would be a tragedy if California follows suit.
Sending supplies up to "Warbler."

Wild oak habitat scheduled for destruction. We were permitted to see only a tiny portion of what will be lost.

Today we stopped Caltrans from "topping" the oaks. What about tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day?More info can be found here...

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