From her vantage point in a ponderosa pine, Amanda Senseman—better known as Warbler—can see for miles. Thursday morning she spotted something that made her angry: California Highway Patrol officers arresting folks who share her opposition to a Highway 101 bypass.

A big-rig piled with wood for a fence around the construction site arrived on Feb. 28. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
A big rig piled with wood for a fence around the construction site arrived on Feb. 28. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Warbler said at least one of the protesters was chanting support for the tree sitter, who is hoping that her occupation of the pine will stop construction on the bypass.

“I’m angry because they are not listening and they are going ahead with this project that is clearly opposed by most of the people who live here,” Warbler said.

CHP spokespeople referred questions to an officer who was not available for comment on Thursday morning.

The arrests went along with the construction of a lot of fencing, Warbler said.

“They are definitely making it hard to get access to this area,” she said.

Caltrans is building the bypass around downtown Willits where the highway currently slows down. Opponents say it will damage wetlands, bird habitat and rivers where coho salmon swim.

Warbler has perched 71 feet in the tree for the past 53 days, she said, and has no intention of coming down until Caltrans agrees to consider alternatives to the bypass.

The protests have delayed the project, the Ukiah Daily Journal reports:

Some anti-bypass activists had called for an “occupy-style” encampment starting Sunday night for the area along Highway 101 near the site of the ongoing protest tree-sit, but there was little sign of this activity. More than 50 protesters gathered at the Warbler tree sit protest on Monday. Early Tuesday morning, a number of protesters gathered again at the site, waving signs and singing songs.

Caltrans has already fallen behind in its construction schedule since the first field work started and then stopped Feb. 25 at the request of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The CDFW requested Caltrans improve its bird monitoring protocols before disturbing more vegetation.


Arrests Reported in Tree-Sitting Bypass Protest 21 March,2013Laird Harrison

  • Jack Gescheidt

    I appreciate this reporter’s attempt to be calm and balanced, but to say merely that the $210,000,000 Willits Bypass project will merely “damage” wetlands doesn’t do the scale and scope of this BIG highway project justice. 87 acres of wetlands will DESTROYED. (And many more acres of woodlands will be clear cut.) Meaning these wetlands will be DRAINED OF WATER with thousands of “wick drains.” Then over 1,500 piles will be driven into the ground for over 3 years of construction. Read some FACTS: As more Californians learn how – and how many – of their tax dollars will be wasted here, there will be outrage. You can participate in a PEACEFUL, ORGANIZED, & DRAMATIC demonstration to preserve Willits Valley — and precious greenspace in America — this Sat., March 23rd, at 3pm in Willits:

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