The Maine Woods

A Publication of the Forest Ecology Network

 Volume Five     Number One                           Late Winter 2001

 Luna - Illegally Cut and Endangered

by Dana Stolzman

Luna, the ancient Coast Redwood where Julia Butterfly Hill lived for over two years has been illegally cut and endangered.

The small hamlet of Stafford, California is the site of a landslide that originated on Pacific Lumber/Maxxam land that destroyed seven families' homes. Stafford is also home to the Stafford Giant, an ancient redwood tree now known to the world as Luna. The tree was named Luna by forest activists who used the light of the full moon to rig a treesitting platform 180 feet high in the redwood in October, 1997.

Luna atop ridge above Stafford, California, June 1999. Photo by Paul Donahue.

On December 10, 1997 Julia Butterfly Hill climbed into the tree to protect the magnificent redwood and to help make the world aware of the plight of the ancient forests.From her perch she carried out a tremendous amount of outreach to politicians, religious leaders, school children and citizens worldwide. After two years of risking her life, Julia, with the help of members of the US Steelworkers of America and other forest activists, successfully negotiated the permanent protection of Luna and a nearly three-acre buffer zone.

The tree was protected by a Deed of Covenant, similar to a conservation easement that is held by the land trust Sanctuary Forest. The Luna Preservation Agreement, signed by Julia Hill and PL/Maxxam Corp., was designed to protect Luna in perpetuity so the tree could live for another millennium.

On Thanksgiving weekend it was discovered that a critical cut had been made into Luna by a large chainsaw. The perpetrator made one deep and precise cut that went through significant portion of the tree. While the tree is still alive and standing, Luna extremely vulnerable to a windstorm. Judging from the precision of the cut and the fresh sawdust, the criminal action appeared to have been committed by an experienced treefaller within the past few days.

Julia Butterfly Hill grieving over the cut in Luna, with the braces put in place to help stabilize the tree. Photo by Shaun Walker/Otter Media.

Julia Butterfly was devastated to learn of the injury to Luna, "Luna is the greatest teacher and best friend I have ever had. I gave two years of my life to ensure that she could live and die naturally. But two years is nothing compared to the thousand years she has lived providing shelter, moisture and oxygen to forest inhabitants. It kills me that the last 3% of the ancient redwoods are being desecrated. I feel this vicious attack on Luna as surely as if the chainsaw was going through me. Words cannot express the deep sorrow that I am experiencing but I am as committed as ever to do everything in my power to protect Luna and the remaining ancient forests."

There is a criminal investigation at the crime site for clues as to who may have committed this spiteful and malevolent action against this permanently protected tree.

The forests surrounding Luna are sacrifice zones that were not protected under the Headwaters Forest Agreement. Other sacrifice zones include the old-growth Douglas fir forests on Rainbow Ridge in the Mattole River watershed. Police convoys are actively trying to stop forest activists from defending these forested steep slopes that are slated to be clearcut during this rainy season.

See in this issue: Maxxam Out of the Mattole! by Circle of Life Foundation and The Cabling of Luna  by Paul Donahue

Also see the Circle of Life Foundation's website for letters and photos about the attack on Luna.

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