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.
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.