This bold support for woodlands, wetlands, wildlife & community was held March 23, 2013. Like all TreeSpirit events, it was peaceful and harmless, inspired by the endangered trees, land and water it was designed to draw attention to, in order to preserve them from a disastrous, unnecessary highway project that will destroy 87 acres of wetlands, and much more.
• FEB 17, 2015: Photojournalist Steve Eberhard of The Willits News wins James Madison Freedom of Information Award for his unwavering, not-to-be-thwarted coverage of the Willits Bypass construction despite harassment by CHIPS and Caltrans tasked with blocking media coverage — so the public wouldn’t see the true, environmentally harmful story: READ MORE
• JAN 24, 2015: 150-foot section of Willits Bypass viaduct collapses, adding to delays and cost overruns. STORY HERE
• OCT 2013: WATCH sane, thoughtful, detailed video describing Caltrans’ environmentally devastating actions, with Robin Leler and Ron Lippert.
• SIGN the petition to challenge The Willits Bypass highway project which is destroying 86 acres of wetlands, and more.
• AUGUST 6, 2014 EXPOSE: A chilling, in-depth article by Will Parish on Caltrans’ Minister of Propaganda — oops, Director of Public Relations — Phil Frisbee. For those with the stomach for reading the real dirt (i.e., lies) behind the happy face of a 1950s-style highway-building, environment-chomping machine run amok in 21st century California. Published by the Anderson Valley Advertiser of Mendocino County, CA: http://theava.com/archives/33878
• JULY 7, 2014 UPDATE: Caltrans wetlands destruction suspended by the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers for permit violations:
JAN. 30, 2014: Study of Caltrans reveals it needs revamping from existing old model of highway-building (before sprawl, global warming and environmental degradation of today): READ CBS NEW ARTICLE
DEC. 19, 2013 UPDATE: A federal judge has ruled Caltrans can continue with its massive, environmentally devastating plan to build an unneeded, 4-lane interchange around the small town of Willits: READ MORE
SEPT. 23, 2013 ABC-TV News Story: After months of permit compliance failures, Caltrans is called to task by Army Corps of Engineers in destruction of federally protected wetlands:
Ongoing into October 2013, Caltrans bulldozed acres of land, chainsawed hundreds of mature trees, and is now draining 87 acres (!) of precious California wetlands. Caltrans has ignored community outrage, increasing state-wide concerns, a California State Senator’s concerns, and a pending court challenge. Peaceful demonstrators have been removed by force, and credentialed reporters and photographers denied access to document the massive environmental damage.
• August 24, 2013 L.A. Times news story: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-willits-bypass-20130825,0,3290697,full.story
• July 24, 2013 news story: Caltrans, increasingly worried about public outrage, pressing CHPs to arrest anyone, even reporters: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_23725417/mercury-news-editorial-chp-arrests-journalist-stop-news
• KPFA radio story with detailed, impassioned interviews on KPFA radio (drag playhead to 33 min. mark): http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/90327
More news stories:
• Santa Rosa Press Democrat (4.2.13): http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20130402/ARTICLES/130409922/1033/news?Title=Willits-protester-forced-out-tree-cut-down
• SF Bay Guardian (4.2.13): http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2013/04/02/tree-sitter-shot-70-feet-chp-rubber-bullet
• SF Chronicle (4.2.13): http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Freeway-protesters-trees-cut-down-4403696.php
• Associated Press story in Seattle Post (4.2.13): http://www.seattlepi.com/news/crime/article/6-tree-sitters-arrested-in-highway-project-protest-4404262.php
• KIEM TV (4.2.13): http://kiem-tv.com/node/5152
• KQED video & photos 4.2.13: http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/04/02/willits-tree-sitter-warbler-removed-and-arrested-in-highway-101-bypass-protest/
• CA State Senator Noreen Evan’s update and opinion
• North Coast Journal story: http://www.northcoastjournal.com
• Willits News story: http://www.willitsnews.com/ci_22876886/willits-bypass-construction
Few Californians know about “The Willits Bypass” highway project, a $210,000,000 dollar highway project, and an environmental disaster for Willits, CA (137 miles of San Francisco). Deforestation and 87 acres of wetlands fill-in has begun, even with an environmental challenge pending in the courts.
87 acres of wetlands in Willits Valley, CA will be drained and filled in — the largest wetlands fill permit granted in northern California in 50 years. Additional acres of woodlands and valley streams, salmon and wildlife all face devastation by this massive, unnecessary highway extension.
Learn more, share the facts: Willits Bypass FACTS PAGE
• Center for Biological Diversity PRESS RELEASE
• KQED blog (read this post’s comments, too): http://tinyurl.com/cjq88we
• Willits Valley (SOLLV) website (community updates): http://www.savelittlelakevalley.org
• A brave woman calling herself, “The Warbler,” peacefully perched in a large Ponderosa pine tree for over 2 months until forcibly extracted by Caltrans — and the tree chainsawed to build a highway only profiteers want.
• Her ground support team was arrested, her tree fenced off, and she then began a hunger strike on March 28, her 2-month anniversary, a risky action while 60 feet above the ground.
• Activism, art, community action and legal actions can still save this land — and wasting $210 million California taxpayer dollars. You can help (see bottom of page).
BACKGROUND: On January 28, 2013, a 24-year-old Willits resident, calling herself “Warbler” for the tree sit, lived day and night in an 80-foot-tall ponderosa pine tree. She peacefully, dramatically, called attention to “The Willits Bypass,” a $200 million environmental disaster.
The Willits Bypass is what Caltrans (the California Dept. of Transportation) calls their plans for a new 2-lane, 6-mile highway, routing Hwy 101 traffic around the town of Willits, population 5,000. Caltrans will drain and fill-in in 87 acres of wetlands — the largest wetlands fill project in northern California in 50 years and pave over 6 miles of meadow in undeveloped Willits Valley. And fill in streams. And “relocate” all its fish, including coho salmon. And bulldoze and clear cut acres of oak/pine/madrone woodlands. And level hillsides.
A sonic assault on people and wildlife: 1,600 piles will be driven up to 100ft. deep, from dawn to dusk…over 3 years of construction. Each pile will be struck approximately 2,000 times at 187-220 db (decibels). (A jet take-off is about 140db.)
Out-of-control costs: Caltrans estimates this will cost $210-300 million of CA taxpayer dollars. And that’s without typical cost overruns or likely wetlands fill complications.
Protect wildlife, peace of mind, and Willits Valley (below).
Caltrans claims this massive, wildlife-depleting, polluting and pricey project is needed to reduce north-south Hwy 101 truck traffic through Willits. But the majority of Willits residents oppose the bypass, citing studies that show 70% of Willits traffic is local, not thru-state. More effective, cheaper and more environmentally benign alternatives have been proposed — and ignored. CalTrans won’t budge because their long-term goal is to build a 4-lane highway through California — and award multi-million construction contracts all the way. Big business as usual. Local communities, be damned. YOUR CA state tax dollars hard at work.
The more you learn, the more outrageous The Willits Bypass is. And why 90% of Willits business owners oppose it, too.
In short, CalTrans is acting as if it’s 1950; as if we don’t know, in 2013, the devastating long-term effects of destroying land, forest, meadows, streams, fish and wildlife populations. And the immediate community-harming effects of massive noise, air, land, and water pollution.
Warbler’s tree sit has made local news. You can Google, “Willits Bypass.” Media links and more background info are here: http://treespiritproject.com/willits-bypass-warbler-2/
The issues here deserve state-wide and national attention. The friction between old, environmentally unconscious thinking, and modern environmentally aware thinking is occurring across America. We now understand that humans are part of a larger, intricate and delicate ecosystem that sustains us. To destroy and pollute hundreds of acres of living land and contribute to global warming for a non-essential roadway is actually suicidal.
Additional ways to help:
• Take 30 sec. to sign the petition challenging the sanity (and necessity) of The Willits Bypass.
• More information:
• Learn more, share the facts: Willits Bypass FACTS PAGE