Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tree Huggers -- Western Style

NJ environ-mentalists have waged many successful battles to preseve old-growth trees. They may find inspiration from these folks in Berkeley:

from SF

Save the Oaks activists are up in the trees at Cal's Memorial Stadium to protest the plans to remove oak and redwood there.

It may be a bit drafty, but life is pretty good 40 feet above Berkeley.
"You can see the bay and the city lights," said Kingman Lim, a recent UC Berkeley graduate who is among five or so activists who've taken up residence in two coast live oaks and a redwood next to Memorial Stadium.

Three days after they began their leafy sit-in, activists with Save the Oaks were busy chatting with reporters via cell phones, shouting to the festive encampment below and affirming their vow not to come down unless UC scraps plans to replace the trees with a $125 million athletic training center.

"It's exhilarating," said the group's leader, Zachary RunningWolf, a contractor and former Berkeley mayoral candidate, who's now swinging in a hammock in a redwood tree. "It's such a powerful form of protest."

The UC Regents' buildings and grounds subcommittee is scheduled to vote today on the training center plan, which calls for the removal, as early as next month, of 42 oaks, redwoods and other trees next to the stadium.

Among those drawn to the encampment Monday was folk singer Country Joe McDonald, a Berkeley resident who brought Cheez-Its, peanuts and apples for the arboreal activists.

"I've pretty much made up my mind to hug a tree if they try to chop one down," said McDonald. "I'm not going to climb one, though. I don't want to fall like Keith Richards."

The group has grown from three tree-sitters, each perched in a separate tree, to about five sharing quarters and a dozen more below who deliver food and remove waste.

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