BUTTERFLY TOUCHES EARTH
Environmental activist Julia “Butterfly” Hill is claiming victory in her battle to save the 600-year-old redwood that was her home for more than two years.
In a agreement, Ms Hill and her supporters pledged to pay $50,000 to Pacific Lumber to make up for lost logging revenue. The company agreed to spare Ms. Hill’s redwood and a 2.9 acre buffer zone around it. The company also said it would donate the $50,000 to Humboldt State University for forestry studies.
Hill ended her tree-sitting protest on Saturday, December 18th, 1999, lowering herself from her perch 18 stories high in the branches of the redwood she called Luna.
“I understand to some people, I’m just a dirty, tree-hugging hippie, but I can’t imagine being able to take a chain saw to something like this. Before anyone should ever be allowed to cut down trees like this, they should be mandated to live in it for two years,” a sobbing, euphoric Hill said shortly after kneeling and kissing the ground at the tree’s massive trunk. “I understand that we all live under different valuesystems,” she said. “But I just don’t understand why anyone would want to cut thesetrees down.”
Several activists, friends and supporters were on hand to congratulate Hill with hugs and kisses.
In her 6-by-8-foot treetop abode,Hill spent her days reading, writing poetry and cooking vegetarian food with supplies hoisted up to her bysupporters. She kept fit by climbing and used a small bucket for personal hygiene.
On December 10, 1999 Julia Butterfly Hill, 25, had reached her two year mark of sitting high atop the 600+ year old redwood tree now known as Luna. She climbed 180′ up into a tarp covered 6′ x 8′ platform on December 10, 1997, in an effort to protect Luna and the hillside on which it stands, as well as to protest the federally brokered Headwater’s Forest Agreement and the destructive and illegal logging practices of the MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber Company. Butterfly had called for permanent protection of all remaining old-growth forests and critical habitat for endangered species. “Things of real value in life are worth going to any length in love and respect to safeguard,” said Butterfly. Julia had maintained her vigil with the assistance of a dedicated support group that brought her food, water, supplies and mail.
During her quest to protect the forest, Julia Butterfly had accomplished much toward her goals. The story of her historic action has been extensively covered in all forms of the national news media, the alternative press and the international press from every corner of the world.
Other achievements include:
* Panelist on U.N. Commission for Human Settlements, World Gathering, Nairobi, Africa, May 1999
* Musician Bonnie Raitt dedicated her “Lifetime Achievement Award” to Julia Butterfly Hill at the 1999 BAMMIE Awards and then ascended Luna with Joan Baez to present it to her.
* Visited by thousands, including actor Woody Harrelson, musicians Ben Harper and Mickey Hart, Buddhist monks, and Native Americans. First tree-sitter to have reporters climb tree.
* Regular commentator on Outdoor Life Network’s environmental news show: The Thin Green Line
* Addressed 8 million school children on forestry issues on Channel 1, a cable network
* Received The Bioneers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Activism, Nov. 1998
* Nominated “Most Admired Woman,” Good Housekeeping Magazine reader poll, September 1998
* Keynote Speaker (via cell-phone), Environmental Law Conference; Ancient Forest Conference (1999)
* Member, Board of Directors, Earth Day 2000 Campaign
* Received “Defender of the Woods Award” painting from Native American political prisoner, Leonard Peltier, April 1998
* United Steelworkers make Julia an honorary Steelworker and repeatedly visit Luna; Local #713 of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters & Joiners present Julia a “care package” (1999)
* Received Honorary Doctorate Degree of Humanities from New College of California, Sept. 1998
* Julia Hangs 7′ “target” banner to protest bombing of Yugoslavia (current)
* Survived El Nino rains and 90 mile/hr.winds (97-98) and La Nina 10 degree cold and a 1′ of snow (98-99).
“I believe the outward landscape is a manifestation of our inner landscape,” said Butterfly whose continuous vigil had been in a timber harvest plan adjacent to the massive mudslide caused by MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber’s clearcutting practices. On New Year’s Day 1997, this mudslide destroyed 7 families’ homes, damaging and threatening dozens of others, in the town of Stafford below. “MAXXAM/Pacific Lumber’s response to this horrifying tragedy was to offer the families a couple of thousand dollars and continue cutting right above their heads. This area is a magnifying glass of all that is wrong not only with the Headwater’s Forest Agreement, but also the role of corporate mentality in our world today,” said Julia.
“The Headwaters Agreement and associated Habitat Conservation Plan is based on the premise that only a bare minimum needs to be protected for endangered species recovery, and from the beginning it has failed to require what is biologically necessary to accomplish even that,” Hill stated. “Thousands of acres of old growth will be sacrificed and tens of thousands more of seriously devastated land will go without needed restoration, eliminating the potential for new jobs, all while Charles Hurwitz laughs his way to the bank with $500 million in hand,” she said. Hurwitz, president of PL parent company Maxxam, is still the subject of an Office of Thrift Supervision trial regarding a $1.6 billion debt to the American taxpayers as a result of a federal bailout of his failed United Savings Association of Texas. Hill states that Luna, the tree she had occupied since December 10, 1997, and the surrounding steep and unstable hillside are representative of the many areas that the Agreement falls to adequately protect.
Julia Hill chose the name Butterfly while in her childhood years and like her namesake she has undergone a great metamorphosis. She grew up in a deeply religious family as the daughter of a traveling, evangelical minister that later settled in Arkansas. In 1996 she suffered nearly fatal injuries in an auto accident. During close to a year of medical treatment and recovery, she had time to reassess her purpose in life. Two weeks after being released by her doctors, she headed west on a journey of self-discovery. She had no particular destination, but her first sight of the ancient redwoods overwhelmed her with awe. “When I entered the majestic cathedral of the redwood forest for the first time, my spirit knew it had found what it was searching for. I dropped to my knees and began to cry because I was so overwhelmed by the wisdom, energy and spirituality housed in this holiest of temples.”