Tree-Sitter, Lumber Firm Reach an Agreement
Preservation: Julia 'Butterfly' Hill will leave her perch in a redwood, while $50,000 will go to Humboldt State University.
By MARY CURTIUS, Times Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO--More than two years after she began her marathon tree-sit, Julia "Butterfly" Hill has reached an agreement with Pacific Lumber Co. to leave the giant Humboldt County redwood tree she has called home, a company spokesman said Friday. Hill could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman said she will hold a news conference today "in person" in the former logging town of Stafford. The spokeswoman declined to discuss the agreement.
But sources close to the negotiations said the two sides had agreed that Hill's supporters will donate $50,000 to Pacific Lumber Co., which will in turn give the money to Humboldt State University for forestry research. The logging company has agreed to refrain from logging the tree Hill fought for, or any trees within a 250-foot buffer zone on the slope around it.
Word that Hill was close to an agreement with Pacific Lumber became public more than a week ago, but Hill said she was doubtful there would be a deal. She accused Pacific Lumber of trying to force her to sign away her constitutional rights by requiring her to denounce tree-sitting as a protest activity and forgo any profits from her stay in the redwood. Pacific Lumber spokesman Joshua Reiss declined Friday to discuss the terms of the agreement.
"All I will say is that we are pleased that we have reached an agreement with Miss Hill that will bring her safely out of the tree," he said.
Living on a tiny platform slung between branches 150 feet above the earth, Hill became a poster child for environmental activists, conducting hundreds of interviews and entertaining celebrity visitors. Her protest attracted more attention than any other demonstration by the thousands of environmental activists who have fought for more than a decade to preserve ancient redwood trees.
Pacific Lumber, owned by the Houston-based Maxxam Corp., denounced Hill as a trespassing law-breaker who put her life in danger and encouraged others to do so by example. But several times during her protest, Pacific Lumber officials negotiated with Hill's representatives. Each time, negotiations broke down amid mutual recriminations.
Hill, 25, was an unemployed drifter--the daughter of an itinerant preacher--when she joined the forest protest movement that took off in Humboldt County after Maxxam Corp. bought Pacific Lumber and began clear-cutting large tracts of forests.
In March, Maxxam agreed to sell 7,400 acres of its Humboldt property to the state and federal governments for $480 million to preserve the ancient Headwaters grove and other redwood forests. Hill and other environmentalists denounced the deal for preserving too little of the forests and paying Maxxam too much.
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Andy Caffrey, founder
Hayduke Rocks! an Earth First! Media and Action Network
NEW, EXPANDED WEB SITE! http://www.efmedia.org
December 18, 1999
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Butterfly touches ground First Time since '97
Julia rappelled down just awhile ago. The first thing she did was collapse as her bare feet touched soil, curling up around the rope and sobbing wildly. CNN Headline News has footage.
Statement of The Pacific Lumber Company on Preservation Agreement With Julia Hill
SCOTIA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 18, 1999--In an effort to end a community controversy and concentrate its efforts upon implementing a viable harvesting program under the landmark environmental protections contained in the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that is a part of the historic Headwaters Agreement, The Pacific Lumber Company has agreed to enter into a Preservation Agreement and Covenant with Sanctuary Forest with Julia "Butterfly" Hill to permanently protect an old-growth redwood tree and a protective buffer zone, on the Company's private property.
Ms. Hill has engaged in a 2-year "tree-sit" in a tree she refers to as "Luna" in order to call attention to the issue of protecting old-growth trees. During this time, Pacific Lumber has been deeply concerned about Ms. Hill's safety as well as the safety of several others who have followed her example to trespass on the Company's private property in order to protest.
Pacific Lumber believes that the controversy surrounding timber companies and environmentalists on the North Coast must stop, and that it is imperative that common ground be forged between these two groups. It hopes and believes that the Preservation Agreement will work toward this common ground, and help create a peaceful dialogue between two groups who ultimately care about the same thing -- the future of the North Coast of California.
John Campbell, president and CEO of The Pacific Lumber Company said,
"We have reached this Preservation Agreement in order to end this controversy and focus positive public attention on Pacific Lumber's very real commitment to the environment, the community, and job preservation. As part of the landmark Headwaters Agreement we are very proud to be implementing an HCP that contains the most comprehensive and sensitive environmental protections ever approved for a private timber owner in U.S. history. The HCP provides assurances to the Company and our employees that we can harvest our property consistently with these protections. We are reaching out to the environmental community with an outstretched hand, and hope that they will join us in an effort to work together to preserve 1,300 jobs and protect the environment."
Humboldt County media:
Pacific Lumber Company
Mary Bullwinkel, 707/764-4200
All other media:
Shelly Sullivan, 916/448-4234