Thursday December 9 8:36 AM ET

Tree-Sitter in Talks to End Her Protest

By Michael Kahn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A woman who has been perched atop a giant
redwood tree in northern California for nearly two years to protest
logging is in negotiations with Pacific Lumber Co. to leave her
bed-sized platform 180 feet (60 meters) above the ground and return
to earth.

Julia Hill, 25, said on Wednesday that her talks with the logging
company were going well, although she had not yet set any kind of
date to clamber down the giant tree.

``I am cautiously optimistic that we will find a resolution,''
she said in a telephone interview from atop the redwood located
near Stafford, some 240 miles (388 kms) north of San Francisco.

Since she began her tree sit on Dec. 10, 1997, Hill has braved
a wicked rash of El Nino storms and endured taunts from angry
lumberjacks -- all from a six-by-eight-foot (almost two-by-
three-meter) platform atop a tree she has named ``Luna.''

Communicating with journalists by cellphone, taking sponge baths,
and subsisting on provisions hoisted aloft by supporters, Hill
has earned news coverage around the world as the latest in a long
line of battles over the last few old-growth groves of redwoods.

Hill said she was working toward an agreement that would protect
``Luna'' and a 200 foot (61 meters) buffer zone around it in

The environmental protester also confirmed that she and her
supporters have offered to pay $50,000 to Pacific Lumber in return
for a logging ban at the site. That money, expected to come from
public donations, T-shirt sales and a book deal that Hill has
concluded, would be donated to a California university for future
forestry research.

``Yes, I have agreed to give $50,000 to see this area protected,''
Hill said.

Pacific Lumber company officials also confirmed on Wednesday that
negotiations were underway, saying the firm was primarily concerned
about Hill's safety.

But the company, division of Houston-based MAXXAM Inc
(AMEX:MXM - news). , also wants assurances that others are not
encouraged to embark on tree-sits as forms of protests, Josh Reiss,
a spokesman for Pacific Lumber said in a telephone interview.

``We have had a number of different discussions with her,'' Josh
Reiss, a Pacific Lumber spokesman said in a telephone interview.
``The difference is this one has become public.''

Both sides declined to provide further details of the talks.

Last March MAXXAM agreed to sell for $450 million several thousand
acres of redwoods in northern California. Under the Headwaters
Agreement, the state of California and the federal government paid
to buy 7,500 acres (4,035 hectares) of the Headwaters Forest -- the
largest privately owned stand of virgin redwoods -- and other, smaller
groves nearby.

But ``Luna'' and the grove in which it sits are not included in that
agreement. For this, Hill said she is ready to brave another winter
atop the tree.

``I am willing and prepared,'' Hill said.

Return to Home