Gina Covina: Bearing Witness to Little Lake Valley Destruction…



Early yesterday morning, standing on the hillside across 101 from the Warbler’s tree-sit, at the south end of the proposed bypass. Orange traffic cones on both sides of 101 in both directions to keep cars from stopping. At the tree-sit pull-out, the many banners and signs of the people who can visualize a much better way, the table with maps and flyers and petitions and the notebook in which visitors write encouraging messages to the Warbler – all that, gone. Replaced with five CHP vehicles, a mix of black-and-whites and those beefy paddy-wagon-type pick-up trucks, a few CalTrans vehicles, a contractor’s truck, and directly under the Warbler’s tree, a clanging backhoe scraping the roadway wider. Way up the tree, the Warbler saw it and heard it loudest and clearest.

Over at East Hill Road the police presence was equally extravagant, with seven vehicles parked along Sanhedrin Way and patrolmen stationed all along the newly erected fence that cordons off the construction zone. Several hundred yards in is a ponderosa grove inhabited by new tree-sitters, Rain and John, one on a precarious-looking platform strung between two trees. Beneath them was the incessant roar and shudder of machinery that witnesses outside the perimeter fence couldn’t quite see. Over the top of the Manzanita/blackberry tangle that borders this woods, we saw the hardhat of the operator moving his machine back and forth as branches cracked. Moving along the perimeter revealed occasional clear views of the result – absolutely bare ground. Off to one side, the pile of trash that used to be a living web of grasses and insects and manzanitas and poison oak and little birds picking their nesting spots.

I hadn’t realized before just how essential the act of bearing witness to this destruction is to the process of change. To simply stand and watch, to allow ourselves to feel the obliteration of life that proceeds via fossil-fueled machinery, in the name of consecrating more ground to the domain of fossil-fueled machinery. Presiding grandmother-in-chief Sara Gruskey paced the perimeter fielding phone calls with tears lining her face. The prevailing mood held great sorrow and wild frustration, and at the same time an ever-deepening commitment. We know that when enough of us stand together, we can change the outcome into a form that affirms our natural and cultural environment, with the valley’s farmland and wetlands intact, the traffic through Willits eased considerably more than with the current proposal – the benefits widen into everyone’s future. The ongoing destruction serves as a wake-up call to all who stop to listen, and will go on until enough of us give it our attention.

Come out and see for yourself if you haven’t yet – today’s program features chain saws off East Hill Road. The Sunday afternoon Bootprint Tour is a great introduction too, 1:00 pm at the Little Lake Grange. More info at


What is important here for government is not the bypass but the opportunity to impose action against public outcry. It is a stand for authority over all else. This is what came of teaching small children to obey authority without questioning.


Thank you for telling the truth. Come out and witness the destruction and you will no longer be able to FEEL that this is the best thing to do to change the traffic patterns in Willits.

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.”
― Mario Savio, U.C Berkeley Student, 1968