Column One: Victorious `Butterfly' comes down from the trees
Monday 20 December 1999
"I haven't seen one of those in two years," she said, as she was guided into a chair for an impromptu roadside reunion with supporters. "It feels weird sitting down." The environmentalist had spent two years perched in a redwood to protest at the aggressive logging of some of California's oldest forests. She came back down to earth at the weekend after being promised that her tree and surrounding ancient redwoods would remain unfelled.
During her tree-sit, the longest undertaken, Ms Hill, 25, attracted worldwide attention to the activities of the Pacific Lumber company, which has tripled clearance in the past few years, stripping the hills of Humboldt County, north California, of some of the oldest trees on the planet.
Ms Hill's tree, which she called Luna, overlooks Stafford village, wiped out by a landslide three years ago. Environmentalists say it was another result of the company's "clear-cutting" policies, along with threats to endangered species and silting of salmon rivers.
Ms Hill, a drifting preacher's daughter from Arkansas, began her tree- sit shortly after setting eyes on the redwood forests for the first time. With only a 6ft-by-8ft plywood platform for support, she subsisted on an uncooked vegan diet and used layers of clothing to survive the winter winds and cold. Her main link was her mobile phone, which she used for interviews, and a group of supporters who replenished supplies and took away her waste every few days.
"I wanted to do something for the forest,'' she said on Saturday. "There is no way to be in the presence of ancient beings without knowing something about ourselves.''
Her easy charm and remarkably intact sense of humour infuriated Pacific Lumber, which accused her of trespassing and threatened, in the early days, to use violence to remove her. She said they blared horns at her all night to deprive her of sleep and flew a helicopter perilously close to her perch in an effort to blow off her coverings.
But as her fame spread - she was visited by Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez and Woody Harrelson, among others, and inspired several copy-cat tree-sits - the company had to agree to negotiate terms for her descent. Under the deal Ms Hill and an environmental trust, Sanctuary Forest, will pay $50,000 (pounds 31,250) for the right to preserve Luna and a 200ft ring of trees around it. They will also maintain visiting rights.
The money, raised from supporters and the advance on a book Ms Hill is writing, will not stay with Pacific Lumber but be donated to forestry research programmes at Humboldt State University. The only concession Ms Hill made was to agree never to undertake another tree-sit.
- 1 Kylie Jenner challenge: Bizarre lip suction device inspired by Kardashian sister goes viral
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor are reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bruce Forsyth backs assisted dying campaign: 'If I had Alzheimer's or dementia I would do something about it'
- 5 Giorgio Armani criticises the way some gay men dress saying 'a man has to be a man'
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...
£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...