WARBLER was extracted with a “Dominator” cherry picker truck from the Ponderosa pine along Highway 101 she'd been sitting in for more than two months to protest the Caltrans bypass around Willits this morning, and the tree has been felled. It took about 30 minutes for the cherry picker to get into place, and about 10 minutes to get her out after that. Willits Weekly has a call in to the CHP Command post about whether Warbler was taken to jail or to the hospital.
UPDATE: Steve Krul, Public Information Officer, returned our call on that question and said: “I can tell you, because of the amount of time she's been up there and on a hunger strike, we have taken extra care to make sure she is taken care of. She was medically evaluated at the scene by a paramedic, and she's in the process of being medically cleared. We want to make sure she's OK.” Sara Grusky and Will Parrish from Save Little Lake Valley were arrested at the Warbler tree sit this morning.
UPDATE: Krul also told Willits Weekly Warbler was arrested for trespassing this morning, and that Sara Grusky was arrested for trespassing, too. Will Parrish was arrested for trespassing and also for obstructing a peace officer. All arrests were misdemeanor offences. Krul confirmed that all charges for those arrested previously during the bypass protests have been dropped. Two other tree-sitters along Highway 101 are currently still in place. One Highway 101 tree-sitter, Falcon, is inside a 100-foot protection zone for birds in a neighboring oak tree. Reports from the #2 tree-sit off East Hill Road say extraction of the two tree-sitters there is taking place now. – Jennifer Poole.
AS OF 4PM TUESDAY, all five tree sitters had been removed from the South Willits protest site. There are unconfirmed reports that CHP officers fired rubber bullets at one recalcitrant sitter as they approached him in a cherry picker apparatus. The trees have all be cut down.
REPORTS CONFIRM that CHP officers did indeed fire rubber bullets from close range at a tree sitter, the sixth and last to be removed from the Bypass protest site.
SIX PEOPLE protesting a freeway bypass under construction in Mendocino County were arrested Tuesday after Caltrans crews cut down two pine trees in which some of them had been camping for weeks, officials said. California Highway Patrol officers fired several bean-bag projectile rounds at two of the protesters, and one of the protesters poured feces on CHP officers before Caltrans chopped down the tree in which they had been sitting, authorities said. Among those arrested was Amanda “Warbler” Senseman, 24, who was the first protester to take to the trees Jan. 28 in an attempt to stop construction of a Highway 101 bypass around her hometown of Willits. CHP officers were hoisted up in a cherry-picker to the tree-branch level and brought her down just before 8 a.m., said Caltrans spokesman Phil Frisbie. A Caltrans contractor then cut down the pine “to prevent any others from using that tree,” Frisbie said. Senseman declared last week that she was going on a hunger strike. Two protesters on the ground who tried to interfere with her arrest were also arrested Tuesday, Frisbie said. Around 11:30 a.m., one of two men living in a nearby tree became “combative” and poured feces on CHP officers when they tried to arrest him and bring him down, said CHP spokesman Officer Steve Krul. Officers fired several bean-bag rounds at the man and hit him, Krul said. He suffered minor injuries and was brought down, and the other man in the tree came down without incident. Both were arrested, and Caltrans crews cut down the tree. Another man caught climbing over a Caltrans fence was also arrested, Krul said. The $210 million bypass is a polarizing project in Willits, a town of 4,800 people. City leaders lobbied for the 6-mile freeway, which would reroute drivers out of downtown. But demonstrators said construction would damage delicate wildlife areas and wetlands nearby. Frisbie said Caltrans is restoring other wetlands in the area and opening streams for salmon spawning. Caltrans crews worked around the protesters for more than a week, but finally decided they had to cut down the occupied trees, Frisbie said. “Up until the last few days they (protesters) had not been holding up progress,” Frisbie said. “But it came down to that time when they were going to be holding us up, so we had to ask the CHP to take action. They needed either to leave or be removed for their own safety.” Michael Foley, a protest organizer, said the two protesters arrested on the ground at Senseman's tree were his wife, Sara Grusky, and Will Parish. He said all three had been booked on suspicion of trespassing. The names of the other arrested protesters and their booking charges were not immediately available. “We expected this to come,” Foley said. “We're appalled at the level of force the CHP used. These were peaceful demonstrators.” Protesters plan to occupy other trees, hold rallies and lobby state legislators in hopes of halting the bypass, Foley said. “I don't expect this to stop,” he said. “We're gearing up for more action to stop this thing.” (— Ellen Huet. Courtesy SF Chronicle)
COMMENT OF THE DAY: Congestion Relief? The Bypass will divert only 20-30% of traffic, including trucks. It will not eliminate stop and go traffic for at least 70% of the remaining traffic and will eliminate only a small part of congestion. An alternative solution could divert almost all truck traffic off of Main St. and virtually eliminate stop and go traffic entirely. The projected future increase in traffic along the 101 corridor (used by Caltrans to justify the Bypass) has not been realized since predicted. Instead there has even been a slight decline. There are also reasons to believe this trend will continue. The congestion at the Highway 20 turn off was introduced about 20 years ago, when Caltrans re-striped the northbound approach to a single lane, eliminating a critical right-turn capability. The backup started the very next day. This has greatly contributed to the perception that we need a Bypass to solve the problem — a problem that was artificially created with poor traffic engineering. A proposal at the Willits City Council to resolve our traffic problems with an alternative route through town by connecting Railroad Avenue to Baechtel Avenue was discouraged by MCOG Executive Director, Phil Dow, with the argument that alleviating the backup would reduce local support for a Bypass. All Highway 20 traffic (including trucks) will continue to use Main Street since there is no central connectivity with the Bypass (and there are no future plans for it either). The southern interchange is designed to require Willits traffic coming from the South to exit the freeway on the right, stop at the end of the off-ramp and then turn left to proceed into town. This will inevitably create a new bottleneck and inconvenience for drivers coming into Willits. The northern interchange will create similar unnecessary inconveniences for vehicles coming in and out of Willits only to go from one two-lane road right back to another.
NEED FOR SPEED, the big budget car chase movie, has begun filming in The Anderson Valley. Tuesday, they were zooming around the Flynn Creek area, and this weekend they'll be up on the Ukiah Road all day Saturday and Sunday.
HAVE THE MOVIE PEOPLE dropped a lotta dough on local businesses? Not a whole lot, but the tech people have spent well in some of our restaurants, although they're apparently staying over in Ukiah, which seems like a terrible way to treat visitors to our fair county, exiling them to the big box vistas of Ukiah's Hampton Inn instead of putting them up in the Boonville Hotel and our many attractive inns. Locals hoping to sign on as temp workers have been told they'd make $150 a day, the hours not specified.
THE MOVIE PEOPLE have made a nice donation to the Anderson Valley Little League and, as we know, have rented the Boonville Fairgrounds for a month where they stash their trucks, fancy high speed cars and that array of vehicles done up as cop cars.
A FEW LOCALS satisfied their own needs for speed (in the sense of locomotion) Sunday at Boonville International as the movie's stunt drivers exercised their horsepower on the airstrip.
A LOCAL GUY said one of the cars hauled in here by trailer from LA “is worth a million dollars.” So's my '98 Honda Civic, the one with the cracked windshield, especially on a frigid morning when I really need it to start up and carry me off. The rest of the time I could probably cash it in for a grand or two.
STILL AND ALL, the claim by Need For Speed's public relations machinery that the film would drop $4-6 million on the County seems wildly inflated.
AND THERE'S still grumbling around Boonville that the Supervisors granted Need For Speed its permission to film the epic before the public was heard from. O well. In the cause of art is any sacrifice too great?
MANBEATER OF THE WEEK, Ms. Kim Garcia, 28, of Ukiah, perhaps the most unrepentant Manbeater yet to grace our turbulent pages. “So I popped the punk in his pork chops and he starts to cry so of course I popped him again. And what does sissy boy do? He calls the cops!"
THE OFFICIAL Pacific Fisheries Management Council's (PFMC) Chinook Salmon count is in. Spawning escapement was 55,939 to the hatcheries, 122,018 “natural” spawners, 13,574 fish recreational catch, 101,476 fish Indian catch, 9,101 fish non-landed mortality for a total return of 302,108 Chinook Salmon. The highest documented pre-dam return was in 1915 with a total in river commercial catch of 72,357 fish and a total return to the egg taking stations of approximately 7817 fish. If we correlate as best possible the 2012 returns known escapement or previous known escapement from 1978 to 2010 meta tables, we can estimate the largest pre-dam run size at 153,000 to 160,000 fish. There was no reliable data before 1913. (John O. Snyder, Cal. Fish and game report #34) Keep in mind in 1915 there was no modern troll fleet or foreign mid water trawlers. With a 2012 return almost double the highest documented pre dam return, it is obvious we must hurry and get the dams removed on the Klamath to “restore” the runs to their much smaller pre-dam size! — Stephen Rapalyea Chiloquin, Ore.