Tree-sitting protester
Warbler, 24, has spent more than a month in a ponderosa pine, protesting the U.S. 101 bypass project near Willits, in Mendocino County. (Photo by Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

“Warbler” is a 24-year-old goat farmer who has decided to make her home in a ponderosa pine near the Mendocino County town of Willits in hopes she can help head off a big Caltrans highway project. The agency has already begun preliminary work on a bypass that would shift U.S. 101 from its current route right through town to a new freeway. The Center for Biological Diversity and others are fighting the project in court, saying it would pave over sensitive wetlands, damage streams used by endangered coho salmon, and harm endangered plants.

Warbler–the name used by protester Amanda Senseman–has spent the past month in her tree–fashioning a living room and kitchen in boughs 70 feet off the ground. Her home consists of two wooden 4-by-8-foot platforms and a hammock strung above. Her supporters and other protesters send up supplies via a basket. She sleeps, harnessed to the tree, in two sleeping bags.

KQED intern and photographer Deborah Svoboda visited Warbler/Senseman in her perch earlier this week and brought back pictures of her aerial abode.

(Construction update: The Willits News reports several birds’ nests were found last week in the construction right-of-way, halting construction until at least next week.)

Up in the Air With a Mendocino County Tree-Sitter 1 March,2013KQED News Staff

  • Just a small correction to the picture caption. We have several salmon bearing streams in the Little Lake Valley but no rivers. These streams empty to the north into Outlet Creek and then into Cherry Creek and then into the Eel River. This project would impact those streams and the flow of water to those streams. The impacts would be severe. We are just coming off of two record breaking years of salmon and steelhead runs. Believe this…..that whatever Cal Trans would do to mitigate their disruption of these runs, it would not be enough. On their last construction project, directly over the Eel River at Confusion Hill, CalTrans had over 230 violations do to diesel and oil spills and dumping into the river.

    • It is time all the people of the North State has a say on what those from Sacramento, Las Angles and San Francisco want to do to the North State. It is time again to start a real drive towards The Great State of Jefferson so we The People of the North State controls our area.
      This is our California not the tall Buildings of Rats, and trash. Let’s band together to save Northern California with an enlarged land coverage calle The Great State of Jefferson. Republican, Democrat and Independents all alike working together for a Unity of our area.

  • Thanks to KQED intern and photographer Deborah Svoboda for coming to tell the story with words and pictures. The Warbler inspires courage and creativity in everyone. For more information on our efforts, please visit:

  • Patrick S.

    Fantastic story — and incredible photos!!!!!

  • The people of Santa Clara County and Mendocino County should band together to keep the Government from ruining their beautiful area and Business. That is what By-passes do.. I fought them in the 1960’s and every word I spoke about By-passes. They have killed towns all across America. I am a 48 State Trucker for over forty five tears. I have seen what they do.

  • VeganJessica

    Wonderful pictures with an important story – great job! Thanks for covering this!

  • Liebe

    Thank you for the lovely story about our beautiful Warbler!
    Please, everyone, visit
    Thank you!

  • Jake C

    Very interesting story – I had no idea this was going on! The slideshow made me feel like I was up there with her – no wonder I’m feeling dizzy!

  • Helpontheway

    Go!!! Go!!! Go Amanda/Warbler!!! Support and LOVE from your Utah fam.

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