Willits Bypass Protesters Get a New Tree Sitter: Will Parrish…



As of Wednesday, Redtail Hawk landed in Condor’s nest and has roosted there. Condor has gone flying out in the Valley. Redtail brought a 25 foot banner with him that reads, ‘Save Our Water. Stop Caltrans NOW!’ The banner is visible from 101.

Redtail Hawk also goes by the name of Will Parrish. Parrish is a Ukiah resident who has been an instrumental part of the Bypass campaign. He is an activist and well known local journalist, who has written about and worked on forest and water protection, indigenous peoples land rights, nuclear weapons abolition, immigrant justice, and many other issues. He hasi written aabout dozen articles on the bypass and the resistance to it. To read Parrish’s most recent article on Caltrans mitigation debacle, click here.

This tree sit is in an Oregon ash grove just east of Highway 101, roughly a mile north of Willits High School. The tree is perched in one of the grove’s only oak trees. It is a valley oak at least 200 years old, one of precisely 1,815 oaks CalTrans inventoried to cut down.

This is the first tree sit in the wetlands area of the bypass construction zone, and has been strategically nested to bring attention to the activity happening in the wetlands currently. In a phone call with Redtail Hawk, he described the scene he is witnessing: Caltrans has brought in the wick drains and wick drain machine they will use to install the 55,000 wick drains to drain the wetlands, and they have begun test pile driving 100 foot steel tubes into the wetlands.

The current tree sit, and Condor and Redtail’s nesting in it, is to block destruction of this grove of trees in the wetlands, and to call attention to the destruction of the wetlands that is now beginning.

Redtail Hawk will release a statement regarding his motivation in the next 24 hours.

Want to help stop the Caltrans Bypass? Consider attending the Ruckus Society’s non-violent direct action training this Saturday. Click here for more information.



REALITY CHECK many Little Lake Valley residents do not even know about the alternative Railroad Ave route. WHY? Because they think that a bunch of hippy wackos are tree sitting and wasting their tax dollars, unnecessarily.
There is political divisiveness that runs deep, so alternative logic is ignored.
So please allow us to appear more moderate to allow folks to hear us. The ranchers need to know that their wells might dry up for future generations, plain and simple. They might NOT be interested in wildlife or ecology. But the wells on their property are of germane concern. So let us reach the more conservative folks of our valley. ONE BY ONE, by appearing more mainstream, and stating our message in a way that they might hear it.
I have been successful in alerting some anti SOLLV conservatives about the Railroad Ave alternative route. They now know there is a better way. But before this personal intervention, their blinders were firmly set against the bypass protesters.

On April 29, two bills passed the Oregon House that would hit tree sitters and non-violent protesters with felonies and mandatory minimum sentences.

“There’s been a 30-year reign of terror by these people having no respect for the rights of others,” says Rep. Wayne Krieger, a Republican. Krieger says “environmental terrorists” have been “chaining themselves to trees, locking themselves to equipment, and laying down in the road.”

Krieger, a tree farmer and former member of the Oregon Board of Forestry, has introduced HB 2595. It would create a new crime of “interference with state forestland management.” The first offense, a felony, carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 13 months; another offense kicks that up to a $25,000 fine and five years in prison. That’s five years for non-violent civil disobedience.

A companion bill, HB 2596, allows loggers to sue protesters for up to $10,000 in lost income up to six years after a protest ended.

Who are the environmentalists responsible for this terror?

“I coach kindergarten soccer,” says Jason Gonzales of Cascadia Forest Defenders. He testified against the bill and questioned lawmakers’ priorities. “We have students, we are professionals, we meet with governors, we present at panels. And when it’s the last resort we put our bodies on the line.”

Supporters of the bills say they are needed to combat protests against increased logging on federal lands, specifically the tree-sits in the Elliott State Forest. In the absence of real protective measures from the Obama administration or state lawmakers, protests have been escalating. Obama signed off on logging in the Alaskan rainforest (a move later blocked by a federal district court), and activists say his new national forest proposal lacks any real teeth.

“It clearly is targeting speech,” says Becky Strauss, who is legislative director of the ACLU of Oregon. The bills place a heightened penalty on protest because of what is being protested. “It leaves it open to a police officer’s unbridled discretion as to when and how to enforce this bill, and we expect this to be enforced disproportionately based on the content of their speech.”

Corporations should be worked about much more than “interference,” Jason Gonzales says. “Creating a mandatory minimum prison sentence won’t stop us from fighting these projects but it will change the way we have to fight them,” he says. “My very genuine concern is that it will force large sections of our movement to take their actions further underground. Indeed, instead of stopping us, it may encourage us to accomplish more when risking so much.”